- It’s quite common to think of someone who owns a home business, as someone who works alone all the time. The image of a bright driven person, who is sitting at their kitchen counter or perhaps at their dining table, trying to call their logistics service to ask why delivery of products is late. Well, that’s not the entire picture at all. Most of the time, home businesses are just like any other e-commerce company. They operate online, but they have lots of real-world operations. They aren’t sitting at home all day either, they are out and about, having meetings with clients, customers and investors. So in actuality, the truth is that home businesses are just like any other business, except the majority of the time they are being run from home. But wait a minute, isn’t this what every business has been doing lately? So what is the difference?
Does A Home Business Mean You’re Alone?
Meeting service providers
Everyone who is thinking of starting their own home business, has to be aware that one of the first hurdles they will have to jump over is, selecting service providers. Here are a few lists of services you will need.
- Business internet. This type of internet is more reliable, faster and has a wider bandwidth for multiple data collection points. Contact internet providers near me for more information.
- A manufacturer. If you are creating products you want to sell, you’ll need to work with a manufacturing company that can make it for you.
- Raw materials procurement. You will need to work with a procurement service that can get you and your manufacturer the materials you want. Sometimes, manufacturers will use their own procurement contacts, but you have to agree with them i.e. their materials suit your needs.
- Storage. Many people believe that a home business owner simply stores inventory in their garage. That kind of image is something that only exists in the movies. Home businesses require storage space just like any other business, so working with warehouse storage providers is vital.
- Logistics. This is perhaps one of the more complex things, as you require a delivery service that is reliable, and operates in your area of custom.
- Distributor. If you’re working with large wholesale brands, you will find it easier to sell your products nationally and internationally. The trick is to decide who is best to distribute your product and how much of a cut they want.
They don’t work with anyone?
On a day-to-day basis, the majority of home businesses are just like any other small or micro business. In that, they work on their own. The owner of the business will be doing the usual things, responding to emails, analyzing how their campaigns are going, what improvements they can make, engaging with customers, social media etc. it’s just like a startup or an entrepreneur working on something, it’s a lot of focus and time on managing their business.
But to think that they are working alone is nonsense. A micro business can have 1-10 people. A small business is 10-50 people. So as long as the business stays within 1-10 people, the home business will not get put into a category of a small business. You can hire people to work with you, either in your own home office, or remotely. People work remotely now anyway, so why not hire someone who can fulfill a role you need while not worrying about buying or renting office space?
Not to mention, outsourcing is very common for home business owners. If you need a logo made, a marketing campaign designed, or perhaps you need a team of data analyzers to show you where you could improve things like customer retention schemes, then just hire freelancers or work with companies.
So what if you are alone?
In some cases, yes you will be working alone. This may be the case if you own a home carpentry service. You’re going to be working on the order you have been given, mostly alone; if that is your wish. It will be just you, your tools and the materials you are working with.
However, this is not exclusive to just retirees or people who are older and want to spend their last few working years, being their own boss for once. Millions of entrepreneurs are working alone right now. So many people with a vision, a great idea and a laptop, are sitting in their home offices, slowly improving their services and products. Yes, it can get lonely, but it doesn’t have to be something you dwell on. Think of it as something that will be temporary before you move onto the next stage of your business which will involve expansion.
If you ever do feel alone, you can always go onto forums for people who work alone and meet some like-minded people who are in a similar situation.
Can’t respond to everyone
One of the major challenges of owning a home business is that you have to wear many hats. You have to be the customer service, the marketing team, the designer, the accountant and the risk analyst, etc. this is why so many home businesses are turning to live chat services for their business. They can use this to give customers an answer to a frequently asked question, or perhaps, use it to give them further information on something. You can drill the chat service to respond to certain questions, but also give them a brief of what you are doing so that more in-depth questions can be answered.
The chat service has automated responses that flow like a conversation, but also, real people that can answer a question on your behalf; working from your brief of course. It also allows customers to feel as if they are not being treated as another number. Not to mention the fact that it makes your business seem like it has a professional front, and it’s run by more than just one person. This can give confidence to people to purchase something from you.
Data backs up your viability
Storing your performance data is vital to your success personally, but also to attract investors. It’s going to help you see where your business plan is lacking, what key performance indicators are suggesting you do about your controls, and also, help you to understand how you can track and report the growth of your business.
But how can one person do this? It’s easier than you might think. There are plenty of online free tutorials of KPI reporting. It requires you to make a story from your raw data. This can be done with Google Sheets, Excel, Power BI or other software specifically designed for KPI reporting.
Key performance indicators also have to be selected wisely. For example, if you want to see your performance regarding revenue, you need to ask yourself some questions.
- By what metric will you measure? Will it be a percentage, a number, fractions, decimals?
- What will you measure? This is the most important. If you want to measure revenue growth, it has to be compared to something. Will it be last month, last quarter, last year?
- Relevant data. When you are measuring something, make sure it’s relevant data you are using. This could be, only using the revenue which you made during normal working circumstances, not including times of economic uncertainty, crash of your IT system and perhaps failure of your service providers.
- What will your dashboard show? Will you break the data down into each metric or will you use charts to show the overall picture?
When you have great performance reports, you can show your investors or partners what you are capable of and how well things are going. Of course, KPI reports are the language that they will understand the most and saves you from having to rely on your presentation skills too much.
To be a home business owner, you have to be tough. Mentally, you will go through some challenges. You will ask yourself periodically if it’s worth it, are you ‘normal’ working by yourself or in a small team from your home office, should you just stop the fear of financial loss and work for someone, etc. these are normal questions and honestly, quite healthy things to be thinking about. The trouble is, you should never overthink, allow your doubts to become your true thoughts and give in.
Working for yourself is going to be tough, but it’s going to be so worth it in the end. If you enjoy what you do, you don’t have to reach a million in the next few years. A home business can just be a comfortable way to make a decent income, get a great work life balance and satisfaction of being your own boss.
Working from home sometimes means working alone. But millions of people who are starting their own business, do this all the time. It’s quite normal these days, now that most of us are working from home anyway. Thanks to our guest writer for these tips.