Home-based businesses have never had greater potential. There was once a time where running your business from home threw up so many problems that the growth of the company would undoubtedly suffer as a result. But now, modern technology and new ways of working have combined to make running a business from home not only doable, but actually a very compelling option. As limitations are lifted, more and more entrepreneurs are planning to start their empire behind their own front door.
If you’re looking to shake up the world from your living room sofa, it’s important to get to know the essential tips for running a home-based business:
1. Give a professional impression
Your clients don’t have to know that you’re operating from a one-bedroom flat. In most major cities, renting office space comes with a price tag far too high for most startups or SMEs. That’s why starting a business from home can be a smart move — you save a fortune on rent and general overheads, and can potentially feed those savings directly into your new company. But, depending on the type of organisation you’re setting up, being registered with a home address can give a bad impression of your enterprise.
To create a professional veneer, many home-run businesses are investing in virtual office space. According to office space providers Landmark, businesses often opt for a virtual office in London because physical space in the capital is eye-wateringly expensive, yet creating the impression of a metropolitan base can be the best thing for a company’s appearance and reputation.
Virtual offices can offer your business a bespoke package, with different features such as call forwarding, call answering and a registered business address available on an a la carte basis. This allows you to tailor professional services to your company’s specific needs.
2. Keep your focus
Focusing on providing a single service or product is often a good decision when a business is still in its relatively early stages. This will allow you to form a coherent brand and hone your expertise. It may feel counter-intuitive to narrow down in order to expand, but rest assured, this tactic has been tried and tested to great effect.
Focus doesn’t just apply to what you’re producing, it’s an important mentality to bear in mind in the general, day-to-day running of a home-based business. When you don’t have swathes of employees to delegate to, sticking with a single task can be surprisingly difficult.
Emails need to be answered, payments need to be made, orders need to be placed. It can be all too easy to flit between activities and develop an inefficient working strategy. But just because you’re running a business from home, doesn’t mean chaos should reign. Focusing on individual demands until they’re met will serve your business well in the long-run.
3. Grow your social media presence
These days, a strong web presence incorporates more than a good website. Your business’s social media habits should be tailored to your key demographic. Who you’re aiming to market towards will inform your social media strategy, whether you place the thrust of your energies in Facebook quizzes, or Twitter shares, Instagram, Snapchat, Linkedin or Pinterest.
A brand which generates a lot of readable content might want to share things via Facebook, a food-based or design company will be best placed showing off their aesthetic on Instagram, while a company in search of business clients will want to target Linkedin. That said, it can’t hurt to have as many social media bases covered as possible—so long as your profiles are properly maintained.
There are many guides to social media for business online, but the important thing is to maintain brand consistency, and to find and connect with your audience. Getting this right can take trial and error, but it is more than worth it for a home business hoping to spread its wings.
4. Take advantage of the freelance economy
If you don’t have the funds or the means to employ full-time staff, your business can benefit from the freelance economy. You can hire talent on an occasional basis meaning that you’re saving on payroll taxes, medical benefits, employer liability and the many heavy costs of hiring full time staff.
Mark Kirschner, a neighbourhood directory publisher In New York, who employs dozens of freelance writers, explains: “Bringing in outside help gives you someone else to bounce ideas and strategies off […] It prevents you from feeling you’re going it alone.” Freelancers, willing interns, or independent contractors can offer home business owners invaluable support at relatively low expense.
Making sure that a home business takes off requires patience, perseverance and indefatigable self-belief. But, once you’ve learnt how to create a professional impression, take advantage of marketing opportunities and deploy economic know-how, your home business will be able to grow far beyond the boundaries of your own four walls.