How to Get Serious With Your Home Business

You’ve made it through the hardest part—your home business has had a few customers, and a small but steady revenue stream. Your business is mostly a hobby, and it pays for itself, but not much more. When most people reach this point, they realize that their home business isn’t paying the bills, enthusiasm wanes, and many drop out; but if you have a good idea and the willingness to see it through, you can build a business that provides real independence. Here are some steps to get you started.

1. Make time for marketing

If your entire marketing strategy consists of occasionally mentioning your business on Facebook or Twitter, it’s time to get real. Conventional marketing is costly and time-consuming, but there are dozens of free ways to build a name for your business online without beating the streets.

  • Create a dedicated, professional-looking website for your business. Hiring a web designer is a great idea if you can afford it, or you can take your pick from the thousands of free themes available online.
  • Set up business accounts on Google Places, Yelp, Yahoo Local—especially if you’re a local, service-oriented business. They’re the easiest way for customers to find you.
  • Keep your blog updated regularly, and start swapping posts or guest contributing on sites in related fields to get your name out. A little SEO homework goes a long way here.
  • Consider creating an affiliate program: it’s a great way to get the benefits of a commission-based sales team without having to actually manage employees.
  • Incentivize word-of-mouth by offering giveaways or raffles for referrals, Facebook likes, or reviews.

2. Have specific short- and long-term goals

Being your own boss demands vision, since no one else is going to lay out your tasks for you. Every week, take an hour or so and decide what you’re going to accomplish, whether it’s selling a certain quantity of your product, connecting with a certain number of clients or customers, or posting daily updates on your blog. It helps if these goals are numerical, because they’ll be easier for you to track over time and stay accountable. If you’re going to be your own boss, be a good one—do whatever it takes to encourage yourself, and always recognize and reward success.

3. Start taking credit cards
If you do any face-to-face business, you’ve run into the thorny problem of accepting payment. The average customer doesn’t carry cash anymore, and most of us have thought twice about making a purchase after realizing we’d have to go to an ATM first. The threat of a bounced check is even more problematic; but you can make transactions easier on everyone involved by accepting mobile payments from your smartphone.

Square, PayPal Here, and Intuit GoPayment all provide a free cell phone credit card reader and smartphone app with your merchant account, and you pay a percentage on each swipe (around 2.75%). With more and more people paying with cards, or mobile services like Google Wallet, your small business can’t afford to insist on cash.

4. Give yourself a workday, and pay yourself a wage

The liberated, self-directed quality of home business is the main source of its appeal—but it also makes it easy to shirk or procrastinate, and projects that should only take hours can stretch on for days. If you want to put in the kind of work you’ll need to build a real home business, this approach will leave you exhausted and burnt out. That’s why it’s vital to schedule a workday, and stick to it.

It doesn’t have to be 9 to 5—and if you’re like most home business owners with family and work obligations, it won’t be—but set aside a couple hours a day exclusively to build your business, and pay yourself a steady wage for the work that you do. Establishing a clear routine will help you stick with it when discipline and excitement start to break down.

Shawna Davies is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has a talent for organization and helping people navigate new technology. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and young son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.

Featured image on home page courtesy of nikcname.

Filed in: Home Business, Marketing, Technology
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