Here are some guidelines for home entrepreneurs to achieve success in their enterprise.
Staring a home business is both exciting and scary. Exciting because you are venturing out on your own, doing something you love, and the world is your oyster – there’s hope on the horizon. But it’s frightening too. You are giving up the assurance of a monthly pay cheque, you are sinking your own finances into a venture and there’s always the fear of failure looming large on the horizon.
However, look around you. There are so many people who have started small and are now flourishing. So, there’s always hope. Have faith and confidence in yourself and your venture. That is the first step. From there on, take it a step at a time. Be prepared for hiccups on your journey but tell yourself that you will do your best and not give up.
Here are some tips to help you succeed.
1) Know your product or service: By that we mean that you should know every aspect of what you are offering. Do extensive research before you embark on your business. Know the competition, know what kind of customers you are aiming for and fine-tune your product or service. For example, if you plan to sell cupcakes from home, master the art of making cupcakes till you can do it in your sleep. Figure out the options you will be giving your customer – five variants, ten variants, will you customize, etc. What is the competition like? How should you price your cupcakes?
2) Treat your business like a business: Just because you run your business from home, that is no excuse to slacken. You need to set yourself goals and work hard towards them. Set aside a space in your home that will act as an office. Draw up a schedule for work and stick to it. You can’t work three days and decide you want to take off the other three to relax or have fun! Invest in all the equipment you require to get your business rolling. For instance, if you plan to have a home boutique, you need a space to showcase your products, you will need racks, shelves, a cash machine, storage space, etc.
3) Formulate a business plan: You may think it’s not worth the time, but it is. This is one way to set goals and work towards them. Draw up a plan with short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. For example, if you are a freelance wedding photographer, initially you may get a negligible amount of business. But your investments in equipment will be high. How do you recover those costs? Do you plan to stick to photographing events in your city? Or do you want to also offer services in other cities or even other countries. If so, can you handle all this on your own once your business grows? Would you need assistant photographers so that you can handle multiple events? If so, you need more money for salaries and extra equipment. Drawing up a firm business plan will help you plan for the future.
4) Charge as per your worth: A solid business plan will help you in figuring out how much you can charge for your product or service. Don’t undersell yourself; however, don’t overcharge either. If you are confident about what you are offering, and you are able to deliver a quality product or service or something that is unique, customers will be willing to pay. For instance, if you are selling aromatherapy products and your USP is that you use only natural oils and not synthetic ones, you could charge a premium because natural oils cost more than the synthetic ones. But be sure that your customers are apprised of the effort and materials that go into your product.
5) Manage your money: Many home entrepreneurs I know find it difficult to ask for money from people they know. Or are stumped as to how to react when people ask them for discounts. Remember, you are putting in time, effort and materials into your business. You have to be firm. Try not to allow credit; this can boomerang on you and lead to fractured relationships, especially with friends and family. Stay on top of your cash flow because unless that is tiptop, you can’t reinvest in your business.
6) Build your customer base: What is the point of having a business with no customers? So, that is a crucial aspect of your business. You could start with word-of-mouth. Then start a WhatsApp group and get onto Facebook and Instagram. But finally, you will need an online presence in the form of a website. This is what will help you gain a wider audience. In the initial days, it is crucial that you get repeat customers. Treat your customers well and also ask them to spread the word about your business. Reward loyal customers – you could give them discounts, have special offers, throw in a freebie here and there…basically make them feel special.
7) Deliver on your promises: Trust is valuable and once that is broken, you lose that customer forever. If you have promised delivery, ensure that it goes out on time. Let’s say your business is baking fancy birthday cakes. You cannot deliver a birthday cake one hour after the birthday party has started. Always be prepared for emergencies. The power may go; your oven may pack up. What do you do? Whatever you choose to do, do not let your customer down.
8) You need to learn to sell: Yes, to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be able to sell your dream to your customer. Don’t feel shy about selling your product or service or hyping it up. Unless you can convince customers to sample your offering, how will you grow your business? If you are shy or believe you have no selling skills, then hone up on them. Read books, go for public speaking classes, find a mentor who will help you – do something about it.
9) Be professional: You may be a home baker or a dog groomer, but when your customer comes to your home, you need to look professional. Make sure you’ve showered and are dressed suitably. You don’t need to be in suit or a fancy sari. Wear clothes that are comfortable but look presentable. Women could wear a smidgeon of makeup – some eyeliner and a lip gloss will certainly brighten your appearance!
Remember, the road ahead will be bumpy, but it will be an exhilarating ride too. Ride the roller-coaster to success. You will have to work hard but it’s a dream that can be fulfilled!