Category Archives: Personal Development

Vision and Self-Discipline: How to Start a Home-Based Business

It’s the dream of countless people who sit in a cubicle or office every day wondering what it would be like not to worry about getting to the office by 8 am and not having to feign enthusiasm during company meetings. According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, plenty of Americans have decided to find out for themselves what it’s like; today, home-based businesses account for 50 percent of all companies in the United States.

Some find out the hard way that it’s a serious personal challenge requiring lots of hard work and determination, as opposed to a way to sleep in late every day. What’s more, it’s not for everyone. A home-based business requires tremendous self-discipline and concentration. Consider the following points and whether this sounds like something you’d like to pursue.

Getting Off the Ground

Maintain your perspective if you’re determined to give it a try. Would-be home-business owners often get too caught up in the trappings of owning a business and focus solely on coming up with a clever name, a jazzy URL, fancy logo, business cards, and so on. Always bear in mind that drive, passion, and a strong work ethic are what see you through.

Others focus on a business niche they have little experience in because it sounds cool.

As you consider where to focus your efforts, keep a firm grip on common sense. If your background is in accounting, quitting your eight-to-five gig and becoming a public relations professional probably isn’t going to be your best bet. Instead, concentrate on your personal competencies, as well as strengths you can leverage and build on.

You’ll also need to determine what business niche makes the most sense for you. This is a decision that requires plenty of homework so you know what potential customers are looking for and what makes other businesses in this niche successful. Bear in mind that in the beginning, most of your customers will probably be people you’ve known, worked with and represented in the past, individuals who know what you can do. This is especially important if your intention is to become a consultant, so focus in an area with which you’re very familiar.

Your Target Market

Determining your target market will confirm whether there’s demand for what you’re offering and help you fine-tune a business model. Figure out who’s most likely to want/need your service or product and begin narrowing it down from there and determine your demographics (i.e. age range, income level, gender, etc.). Once you’ve worked out a target market, you can focus your marketing efforts and figure out what differentiates you from the competition.

Start Planning

A well-conceived business plan will help you secure the funding needed to start your business. It should address operational and financial matters as well as plans for outreach and growing your business. When you have these aspects hammered out, a professional, easy-to-navigate, informative, and responsive website should be the next order of business. However, unless you’re very computer savvy or have design experience, seek a professional web designer who can put together an attention-grabbing site that makes an indelible impression on prospective customers. This is your digital storefront, primary marketing tool and a chronicle of your business, so it needs to be very well thought out and beautifully executed.

Being Productive

Working at home takes some getting used to. Focus and discipline are important, so set up a home office that’s free of distractions. Keep TV screens, gaming consoles, and wall clocks out of view, and establish specific work hours each day.

Persistence can carry you a long way as a home-based business owner. It can take a little time to get any business off the ground, so don’t get discouraged in the early stages. Stick to your game plan and believe in your idea. And if you begin to lose motivation, think back to that cubicle, office politics, and the eight-to-five grind. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

4 Ways to Reduce Stress at the Work Through Practicing Self-Care

Work is the biggest source of stress for most small business owners and busy professionals. As work piles on and the stress starts to bury you, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, check out some self-care practices below to help you prevent work-related stress.

Blow Off Steam
When you are not working, it’s important to leave work at the office. Give yourself time in the evenings where you are not checking email and not trying to cross a few more tasks off your list in your home. It may sound counterintuitive, but letting yourself unwind decreases stress and anxiety, according to Healthline.

Find ways to help you relax. Though it may be tempting to grab a few beers with some friends, be wary. Alcohol and substance use can actually increase stress and anxiety. Instead, turn toward healthy self-care practices. Find a hobby such as reading, running, knitting, or cooking. Spending time with friends and family can also greatly reduce stress.

Make Lists
Staying organized is a great way to reduce stress. At the start of your day make a list of the things you would like to accomplish by the end of the day. Entrepreneur recommends ranking your tasks and put the things you need to get done that day at the top of the list, this way at the end of the day you’re not scrambling to get things done. Plus, as you start to cross things off you’ll see how much you’ve gotten done.

If there is a particularly overwhelming task you’re expected to get done, try breaking it into smaller, more manageable steps. This will help you feel like you’re making progress. It is also a good idea to figure out what type of worker you are. Some people feel better knocking off a few easy things right away, while others prefer to tackle the biggest task first thing. Do what naturally works for you.

Walk Away
When your to-do list is growing so long you feel as though you are drowning, sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away. Go on a quick walk around the block to clear your head. Giving yourself distance can help you relax and allow you to come back to work refreshed. Much like exercise, your mental health needs time in between tasks to recover. Sometimes even five minutes surfing the Internet can be enough.

Learn to Delegate
The idea that ‘No task is too small’ may sound like you should be able to handle everything, but this mentality can quickly lead to a burnout, and your quality of work may suffer. If you have the time for something small, that’s great. But when you don’t, it’s OK to say no. Your boss and co-workers don’t want you taking on more than you can handle. In fact, that they’ll respect you for knowing your limits.

Do not be shy about delegating either. Save your energy for the big things. Administrative tasks, social media and payroll are easy things to give to someone else, especially if they do not fit into your specific set of skills. Think of it as playing to your strengths. You will be more productive and less stressed if you are doing what suits you best.

Take Care of Yourself
Above all, you need to take care of your well-being. Do not let stress and anxiety rule your life. Practicing self-care is a great way to tune into your needs. Allow yourself time to unwind, don’t take on more than you can handle and fine-tune your body.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Five Steps to Turn Your Great Idea Into a Profitable Business

Image via Unsplash

Is entrepreneurship calling your name? Starting your own business is a rewarding way to earn a living, but it’s not as simple as hitting the market with a great idea. If you have a brilliant idea you want to turn into a profitable business, take these five steps before you launch.

Know Yourself

A business may be a good idea, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you. Explore your interests to discover the type of business you’d like to run. Then, explore your strengths to decide how you’d like to run it.

For first-time entrepreneurs looking to save on overhead, gig economy businesses are a good choice because you don’t need a brick-and-mortar presence. For example, a dog walker can set their own prices and schedule and be selective about the animals they work with. That said, it still takes great organizational skills to operate an on-the-go business.

Complete Market Research

You have a great idea, but who is going to buy it? If your problem doesn’t meet an identifiable need, you’ll have a hard time finding paying customers. This is where market research comes in. Market research shows you what unmet need exists in your target market, how you can meet it, and how much people are willing to pay. For a step-by-step guide to completing your own market research, read the guide from Envato Tuts+.

Write a Business Plan

The business plan is where you synthesize everything you’ve learned about your business idea and market into an actionable plan. The business plan details:

  • What you’ll sell (description of products or services).
  • How you’ll produce it (funding, suppliers, manufacturing, and staffing).
  • How you’ll sell it (pricing, sales strategy, and marketing plan).

A business plan should also outline your mission, values, business structure, and financial projections, among other components. Basically, anything you need to know to run your business should go in the business plan.

Craft a Brand

This is the fun stuff — picking a name, designing a logo, and choosing a color scheme for your brand. However, it’s serious business too. Your brand has a huge influence on how customers perceive your business. Your brand’s image and voice should be consistent across all platforms, including website copy, social media messaging, images, and in-person communication. Learn more about developing your brand at HubSpot.

Register Your Business

Before you launch your business, there are a few legal steps to attend to:

  • Choose a business structure and register your business with the state.
  • Apply for sales tax permits.
  • Apply for a federal tax ID number.
  • Apply for licenses and permits if your industry requires them.
  • Apply for a zoning variance for home-based businesses.

In addition to these legally required steps, knock these administrative tasks off your list before starting up:

  • Purchase a domain name and create a website.
  • Create social media profiles and content calendars.
  • Establish record-keeping systems.
  • Order business cards.

Once you’ve finished all these steps, you’re ready to launch your business! As you operate your first small business, remember to stay disciplined so you don’t fall behind and take time for self-care so you don’t burn out. There’s a lot to do when running a business, but with focus and dedication, you can get the job done.

Ideas For Employee Recognition

Sales organizations use a lot of tricks to motivate their sales professionals. However, although most companies have employee recognition programs in place, too many of them are simply based on tenure. That means, even the most successful salesperson only receives kudos from the company whenever the calendar shows another five or 10 years has passed. This approach can work, but it’s also not the most effective way to show appreciation for a high-performing sales professional. Building an employee recognition program that responds to the significant contributions salespeople make on a regular basis has been shown to be much more successful at motivating employees and keeping them engaged. By praising the individual’s performance rather than marking milestones, employees feel as though the company truly pays attention to what they do and appreciates their efforts. Naturally, a salesperson who has been with the company for 20 years is an obvious asset. Though by honoring that employee only every five years, the company misses the opportunity to reward and motivate that salesperson more frequently.

Although many companies might think about implementing a more active employee recognition program and reel at the potential costs, the truth is such a program can be easier and cheaper to implement than they may believe. There are many techniques companies can use for employee recognition programs that don’t have to cost a lot of money or require significant efforts. Even these small gestures, when properly applied, can have a substantial impact on an employee’s engagement; communicating to that employee that his or her contributions to the company’s success have not gone unnoticed.

For example, a basic “wall of fame” concept enables managers to applaud individual performances in a public setting. A points-based system allows employees to cash in points they earn for perks such as time off or gift cards. Even something as simple as a “thank you” note left at an employee’s workstation can be a powerful reminder that what he or she does every day matters to the organization. There are countless other ideas that can be used to build a successful employee recognition program. The following guide lists many of them. Take a look and see if any of these ideas might work well for your employees.

20 Creative (And Affordable) Ideas For Employee Recognition created by Point Recognition