Home-Based or Small Business: Staying Focused

It’s wonderful to have the dream of building your own business and finally see it through. After the first blush wears off though, some people have problems staying on target. It’s especially true if you’ve been working for someone else. Once you become your own boss it can be hard to stay focused and disciplined. Now it’s all up to you to make the rules and stick to a schedule. Here are some suggestions to help keep you motivated.

Make a List
There are undoubtedly some good reasons why you decided to start your own business. Maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to do or sell. Maybe you’re sick of commuting. It could be that you’re just tired of working for someone else and playing office politics. Whatever your reasons, write them down. You may think that sounds crazy, but you’re sure to run into some bad days. You’ll be asking yourself why you came up with such a stupid plan in the first place. If you have your list handy, you can read it over a few times to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.

In fact, you should print them out, frame them, and put them up on the wall of your new home office. These are your goals and no one else’s. These ideas are what gave you the courage to become your own person and you should never lose sight of them.

Make a Schedule
Unless you’re the most organized and dedicated person in the world, you should really make a schedule…and stick to it. During the first few weeks and months you may feel like you have all the time in the world to get your work done. Since you aren’t punching that time clock anymore, you may have trouble working without structure.

Or maybe in the beginning, you’ll be so excited to be doing your own thing that you’ll put way too much time in. You’ll work day and night because you want everything to be perfect. Even more important is the fact that it’s your very own to work when you want. The trouble with that scenario is that you’ll soon burn out and might even resent your new business.

In actuality you might have to work a little harder for a while, but as soon as you can, set a reasonable schedule for yourself. As time goes on you’ll be able to tweak it so that you work the hours that are best for you. After all that’s usually one of the perks of doing your own thing.

Short Term Goals
You wrote your business plan so you’ve done your homework. It would be a good idea to go a step further and set out monthly goals. If you’re selling a product, you’ll know from your projections that you need to move a certain amount. If you meet your first month goal, increase it by five or ten percent the next month. Do this even though you may have done a six month projection that reflects less. If you didn’t make your first month goal, try to figure out why and make some changes in your selling approach.

Other short term goals might have to do with your daily output. Even though you’ve made your schedule, resolve to stick to it. If you have an easy day, you might decide to knock off early. If you do it one time, it will be a lot easier to do it the next. Pretty soon you’ll talk yourself into doing it several times a week. So, one of your short term goals might be to work your full day…one day at a time.

If you’re selling a service, figure out how you can make every order a little better. For instance, you might be providing desk top publishing from your home. One of your goals could be to deliver the finished product a day early next time. Possibly you could add some free business cards as an incentive. Going the extra mile will make you feel like a winner and it will keep those clients coming back for more.

Long Term Goals
What do you hope to achieve in the end from your home-based business? Do you want to nourish your creativity and make it grow? Maybe you want to retire at a young age. Perhaps you want this business to turn into an international enterprise.

The goals you make for the short term get you through the days and weeks and keep you on the right track. However, if you don’t have an ultimate goal, you’ll end up feeling restless like you may have in your job “working for the man”. Put some thought into the big picture as well as what you plan to accomplish today.

Customer Service
Business these days is all about service. The people that take the best care of their clients and customers will come out ahead. Keep yourself in the running, by treating your buyers (and vendors too) better than anyone else. If someone has a complaint, don’t just apologize and move on. Listen to what the beef is and decide whether it’s valid or not. We all know that some people just like to make trouble no matter what. Even if you run into someone like this, smile and promise to do better next time; unless their business isn’t worth keeping. In any event, they might have a valid issue with you and you want to stay humble enough to hear legitimate criticism. Remember all those old sayings about learning from our mistakes.

Pretty soon, no matter how much you wanted your home-based business, it will be a drag if you don’t build in some rewards. Going back to sticking to your schedule; if you put in full days four days in a row, maybe you can take Friday afternoons off. Each week that you at least break even, splurge on a special lunch. Take a week-end getaway or buy something affordable that you’ve been wanting the first month you show a profit.

Even if things are rough for the first year, you still deserve some breaks. If you use up your last reserve of energy, you’ll soon suffer from burnout and never get your business off the ground.

Something else to think about is the isolation factor. If you’re used to working for a company where you’re surrounded by co-workers, the working at home thing could become pretty lonely for you. Be sure and schedule time to socialize with family and friends. Even if you’re somewhat of a loner, evaluate how you’re feeling every week. Sometimes we feel off, but we’re not really sure why. A lot of people think about working at home, but they’re afraid they’ll cut themselves off from the world. That’s something that’s definitely in your control. No matter how busy you are, be sure to take time to interact with people and to have some fun. And this leads us to the next topic.

Have Fun
One reason you probably opted out of the corporate world in the first place is that it stopped being fun. A person once said, “Why do you think they call it work?” meaning work isn’t supposed to be fun. Not true. Sure we have to work hard to stay ahead in most cases, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time doing it.

Don’t start a home business just to escape another situation. Plan to do something that you really like. We all have fantasies about how we’d like to earn money. Before you even start write down all of your ideas and research their feasibility. We spend most of our time working, so we should make it enjoyable.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for your own business, do some Internet surfing. You’ll be amazed at what people have come up with to earn their living while staying home. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of creative plans for online or on-ground businesses. If you are thinking about something you’re not sure will be a go, reading some of these great ideas may give you the inspiration you need to give it a go.

Be Passionate
The most important rule you can follow is to be passionate about your work. To make that happen it has to be something that you care about. When we’re honest with ourselves, this usually isn’t about money. Yes, most of us love to spend and we love our “things”, but those things don’t really inspire an inner passion. That doesn’t mean you have to set out to save the world. It just means that whatever you do must turn you on. Tune into your heart and base your business on something that starts there.

Categories Home Business

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