Whether you’ve been laid off, furloughed, are self-isolating or just sent home for a few weeks, plenty of people have time on their hands and skills going to waste. Enter a new generation of home businesses, from money-making hobbyists to high-end consultants to art and design sales, from cake making to accountancy, but how do they get up and running efficiently?
Setting up A Home Office
Every entrepreneur needs a nest to work from. Many workers are happy with a laptop on the kitchen table, but having a dedicated desk where your things or tools of the trade are always to hand is key for working in good order. Having a door that can separate you from the rest of the house is also a great bonus, with a “busy” sign to prevent interruptions.
A tablet or laptop like a cheap Chromebook help keep your schedule, project details, production order and other information all clearly visible. it can provide call alerts, appointment reminders and prevent your work/home life getting mixed-up on your existing smartphone. The technology and the cloud apps and services you can use help to remove a lot of the admin and daily grind feel about working from home.
Remember to keep receipts for the tech, online services and those essential stationery items you pick up. In fact, anything you get as you build your nest. Develop a business-first approach when it comes to scanning receipts or costs into your accounts package or spreadsheet before anything else so they don’t get lost to time.
Use Cloud Apps and Services, and Bots to Automate Tasks
The cloud is the home workers best friend, offering easy email, office, accounting, customer service and other tools with no tech skills needed to get going. The basics are well known, just create an account with Google Docs or Microsoft Office 365 and get going.
Low-cost some subscriptions for advanced services like Adobe Creative Cloud or some CRM or accounting tools are commonplace, but there’s plenty of choice to find what you need. On the new and useful list are apps like chatbots that allow you to quickly create a point of customer engagement, working on your behalf 24/7, and are useful for when you are not at your desk much to answer queries.
Bots can also link to calendar apps to create appointments, to sales stores and stores to generate orders, just make sure you have at least one way for customers to get in touch directly as your business grows. AI can help chatbots function in any language, helping expand your business if you can operate globally.
Investigate popular apps and services through the product pages or check out YouTube videos if you are in a rush to see how much you can speed up or automate for any particular task, most people are amazed at what can be accelerated using modern tools or AI-powered apps.
Teamwork Makes Home Working Better
If you have a team of coworkers, affiliates or other people to look after, ensure you schedule time to interact with them, holding quick meetings. There are many collaboration tools on offer, either built into office apps or as bespoke services like Slack and Basecamp, pick one that is simple for everyone to use and not bandwidth-intensive, as this resource may be throttled during the current crisis as more people log on from home.
The key to successful home or remote working with a team is trust, built up by on-the-job experience - learn what does and doesn’t work across your team. With a dash of project tracking or management tools to ensure everyone is up to speed and delivering at their end.
Hints and Tips
The best way to focus on your home business is to treat it like a real career. Create a routine, starting with planning your day or week. Then arranging supplies or deliveries, appointments and meetings, before getting on with the bulk of your day.
While any routine in the current climate can be interrupted, try to stick to it as best you can, setting aside time for breaks, be it coffee time, walking the dog or interacting with friends and family.
While the workload for any new business can be slow to start, people shouldn’t get disheartened and learn to promote their business locally and then wider as best they can. Online marketing and social media are great ways to get started by finding customers and an audience outside your immediate friends.
As the business gets going, always ask for feedback on what you can do better, and look for unique features or services you can offer, use simple tricks to build word of mouth and customer loyalty:
- Consider putting a treat in every delivery or a small discount coupon to keep customers coming back.
- Make sure your marketing is about giving customers what they want or solving your problem, small businesses shouldn’t go high concept.
- Partner with other companies or home businesses to spread the load and share clients or prospects.
Once up and running, the business can soon get all-consuming and people need to avoid key danger signs, that can instantly sour the joy of running a home business, like:
- Feeling lonely, ensure you keep your social circle.
- Chasing money, don’t go after bad or poor quality deals that could stop you from getting more valuable work.
- Competing for competition’s sake, there are often lots of similar operations within a region or market, and plenty of work for all. Focus on selling your services not battling perceived rivals.
In the current climate, there is lots of bad news that can leave people feeling isolated and depressed. But many are turning their skills or a hobby into a blooming career opportunity and making the most out of their day. Using technology is one of the key advantages that can speed up your working day and leave you to focus on the important tasks.