8 Tips to Improve Your Home-based Business
Starting a business is not an easy undertaking. Entrepreneurs are taking the plunge in growing numbers and hanging out their own shingles. There are veritable benefits such as working as your own boss, increased work-life flexibility, and no one or two hour drives to work in rush-hour traffic.
Seeking to keep costs under control, many entrepreneurs opt to run it from their home office. But as is the case with virtually any business model, doing so comes with its own challenges. Home and work life can quickly encroach on each other. Home offices don’t come with the various business accoutrements of a professional office. Working from home day after day can become professionally isolating. Many other limitations could be cited.
The upside is that entrepreneurs can offset many of these by following a few recommendations. The following are a few of the ones that are cited most often.
1. Get a Virtual Office Address
Use of a home address for your business is a bad idea for numerous reasons—from professional presence to heightened legal risks. This is where a virtual office address—or mailbox—service such as Davinci Virtual Offices is key. There are various use cases for using a virtual address: a) stop the business mail at your house, b) make first impressions count—professional presence, c) limit your liabilities by using a virtual address for business licensing and registration, d) connect with search engineers and internet directories for enhanced web presence, e) get mail receipt and forwarding, f) have a location to meet customers, and g) flexibility for expanding a business quickly and easily into new locations.
2. Build and Maintain a Website
One final note on websites: customers expect to find digital engagement when they come to a website. This is critical even for websites where e-commerce is not in purview. This is where live web chat provides entrepreneurs with a mechanism to proactive engage with website visitors. And as most entrepreneurs are too busy building their business and interacting with customers, they should look to outsource live web chat to on-demand live web chat service providers such as Davinci Live Web Chat services.
3. Leverage Your Social Media Channels
Just as a website is a nonnegotiable for a small business, so is social media. Nearly every business recognizes that social is important to their overall marketing programs. But many struggle to make it effective and finding they spend an inordinate amount of time on it with minimal results. There are numerous recommendations here that are helpful: a) pick primary platform and focus your time and energies there (viz., where will you find the bulk of your customers?), b) never stop building your network, c) position yourself as an influencer (viz., posting useful and interesting content), d) make sure your social imagery is compelling and professional (and formatted to size correctly), and e) ensure you consistently post. There are numerous other tips when it comes to social media, but these are a good starting point.
4. Creating Marketing Content—Blog Posts
Solopreneurs likely don’t have the time nor budget to build a huge marketing program and content to go with it. A company—or even personal—blog affords most solopreneurs a low entry point and a channel for telling compelling narratives about products, services, customer experiences, and more. Mountains of research and recommendations have been compiled over the years on blogging, and there isn’t room to go into those here.
Following are a few rules of thumb that provide a solid foundation: a) figure out an editorial calendar for posts and stick to it, b) maintain a regular cadence of posts (don’t let cob webs accumulate on your blog), c) understand the basic nuances of SEO and ensure those best practices factored into how you approach each blog post (backlinks, keywords, etc.), d) write about interesting topics and provide content that educates, inspires, or challenges your readers, and e) include images and videos in your posts, which will make them more compelling and engaging to readers.
5. Building and Nurturing Customers
Maintaining visibility and presence with customers requires a multi-pronged approach. There is where an effective email marketing system comes into play. There are numerous DIY Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools available, which give entrepreneurs a channel to build their customer database through subscriptions while affording them with a tool to automate email communications—whether in the form of newsletters, offers, and nurture programs, among others.
6. Finding Workplace Flexibility
Sometimes, working from a home office every day doesn’t make sense. A change in scenery can help entrepreneurs get out of ruts and prompt them to think differently and work differently. Noisy coffee shops and public spaces typically are a bad idea—lacking privacy and creating distractions that often decrease productivity. Rented day offices give entrepreneurs an affordable, on-demand option that they can use regularly or sporadically. And for those seeking a chance to interact and collaborate with other like-mind entrepreneurs, coworking spaces—also available on-demand and at a low cost—are a great option.
7. Creating Impressive Customer Meetings
Without a physical office, entrepreneurs need a location to meet with customers. Coffee shops and public spaces are almost always bad choices. They lack privacy, are noisy, and present numerous distractions and interruptions—not to mention the fact they create a poor professional impression. Hotel conference rooms are expensive (upwards of 50 percent more than a rented meeting space), and they don’t come with the presentation and business administration services typically needed in a customer meeting.
This is where rented meeting space such as Davinci Meeting Rooms enables entrepreneurs to look and act like a much larger counterpart. As first impressions and experiences are critical, skimping on a meeting location rarely ends well. (BTW: Do not forget that preparing for that important meeting is just as important as the meeting itself.)
8. Leveraging Virtual Assistants
Keeping all the balls in the air is not an easy undertaking for an entrepreneur. Dealing with incoming phone calls, emails, and texts—not to mention live web chat—can quickly become overwhelming. Most entrepreneurs fail to think about the possibility of engaging on-demand services such as Davinci Live Receptionists to help manage these communications. Not only can such help ratchet up productivity and prioritize communications, but the use of virtual assistants can also improve customer experience. (Get a list of the 25 tasks an entrepreneur can outsource to a virtual assistant.)
Many more recommendations could be added to the above. One recent article delineated 101 tips for improving a home-based business. But starting with the eight above tips will get most home-based businesses—and entrepreneurs—well on their way to success.