How to Start a Successful Business from Home 1/3 – Deciding if it’s really for you

How to Start a Successful Business from Home 1/3 – Deciding if it’s really for you

 In this series, we look at what you need to know about starting your own successful business from the comfort of your own home. In the first installment, we’ll consider the very important matter of whether it’s actually the right option for you.

Running a business can seem glamorous and exciting, but it’s also very hard work, and it requires a very specific mindset. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. So without further ado, let’s look at what you should be considering.

Do you have the practical skills?

When you’re getting started, you probably won’t have the cash to outsource many of your tasks. You’ll be a one-man band, and that means that you have to be able to do pretty much everything on your own. Carefully consider whether you’ve got the skills to deliver high quality products or services to your target market. So, suppose you’re thinking about becoming a copywriter. Will you be able to churn out masses of strong content that gets results for your clients? You can of course learn new skills, and your previous work experience will stand you in good stead. Even trainee jobs could have taught you a lot, but always make sure you’re up to speed before rushing in feet first.

Do you have the personal traits?

After the initial honeymoon period has worn off, you’re in for one of the toughest challenges of your life. Not having a boss breathing down your neck, for example, might seem like a dream come true, but can you really force yourself to get out of bed at 6 am or work well into the small hours when you have deadlines looming? Business owners need tremendous amounts of motivation. In addition to this, you’ll need to be resilient and prepared to deal with your fair share of knock-backs.

Can you deal with the uncertainty of self-employment?

It takes time to build a business, and the reality of the situation is that you probably won’t be making much cash in the early days. When you have a mortgage and bills to pay, this can be problematic. It requires strict budgeting, and possibly a very understanding and supportive partner. It takes a certain type of person to be able to cope with these circumstances, and you need to think about whether you’re happy to live through uncertain times while pursuing your goals.

There’s no doubting that fact that entrepreneurship sounds appealing at first glance. The chance to do work that you love on your own terms is something that so many people dream of. Before taking the plunge though, think long and hard about these areas that we’ve outlined. They’ll help you to make a more informed decision.

In the next installment of the series, we’ll look at what opportunities are available to budding entrepreneurs.

This article was brought to you by Ruth Hinds on behalf of AllTheTopBananas. ATTB allows you to search for and browse through UK jobs in one place, from London engineer jobs to Liverpool receptionist jobs. You can also upload your CV to increase your chances of being headhunted. 

Make a Change: Champions of Change: Entrepreneurship Mentors

Make a Change: Champions of Change: Entrepreneurship Mentors

This is not a new a video but in March 2012 the White House honored local leaders for their work as mentors to entrepreneurs and small business owners. I thought you might find this interesting and consider what you can contribute to your community

Wendy Mason is a career coach.  She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

Valpak® Searches for North America’s Favorite Small Business

Valpak® Searches for North America’s Favorite Small Business

Selected company will win inaugural $10,000 Dough to Grow Award

In 2 years, 170,000 small businesses in North America  have fallen in recession. @ValpakCoupons is doing its part to fuel growth.

Valpak, a leader in print and digital coupons, is searching for North America’s favorite small business to win its Dough to Grow Award, a contest for small businesses across North America. The winning small business will receive a grand prize of $10,000 from Valpak – and will become the titleholder of the 2012 Dough to Grow Award.

Businesses may be nominated at DoughtoGrowAward.com from October 1 through November 30, 2012. During that time, nominees must receive at least 100 votes to win. Business owners and entrepreneurs are encouraged to get friends, family and supporters to vote for them. Anyone can cast votes for their favorite nominees.

“Valpak is committed to moving businesses forward, and with the Dough to Grow Award, we’re proving it. This embodies Valpak’s core mission of supporting local businesses to help them grow,” said Michael Vivio, president of Cox Target Media, providers of Valpak.

“We’re excited to hear from businesses  who are the backbone of communities across North America. We also encourage anyone who supports local business to show their support by voting for their favorite nominees, ” said Vivio.

Valpak launched the Dough to Grow Award because it is keenly aware of the obstacles small business owners must overcome to grow their business. Valpak franchises in more than 170 cities in 45 states and four Canadian provinces partner with tens of thousands of businesses to help them reach new customers and increase the bottom line through print and digital direct marketing products.

How to Get the Dough:
If you, or a business owner you know, think you are North America’s favorite small business and could use $10,000 to grow your business, nominate yourself now for a chance to win the cash.

The process is simple

You can find out more at this link

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach
Wendy Smith, Principal Coach, WiseWolf Life and Career Coaching

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link

         

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Entrepreneurs Growing Forward

TEntrepreneurs Growing Forward – today our guest blogger Lindsey Harper Mac writes about the choices  small companies may have to make to survive the economic winter.  Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.

Entrepreneurs Growing Forward

When a business has been in existence for a few years, has solid cash flow and all is running smoothly, the life of the business owner can look easy to outsiders. But chances are, getting the company to that point required the owner and founder long hours of hard work and great financial and lifestyle sacrifices.

Independent small business owners often start their businesses by investing their life savings, taking out small business loans and even maxing out their credit cards to get the company started until funds from client billings start coming in. Many don’t even give themselves a paycheck for the first year or longer. This is a huge risk and sacrifice they and their families make. Even if the business succeeds, it means that numerous purchases, vacations and any spending that is not absolutely essential must be put on hold until the business gets on solid financial ground.

Likewise, the new business owner must often work long hours to get the business running smoothly and to get enough client billings in the pipeline so there is sufficient cash flow. This can take several months and sometimes years, creating an unbalanced lifestyle that is essentially all work and no play. Not everyone is willing to make these sacrifices. They aren’t willing to work that hard, that long or do without the things they want to make it happen.

But, if they don’t, and the business should fail, all the money they borrowed to invest in it is gone and must still be paid back.

Entrepreneurs Growing Forward –  established companies must make hard decisions

Additionally, even owners of established companies must make hard decisions when the economy takes a downturn, or when a major client decides to cut costs and do in-house what they had been outsourcing to your small company.

One small company, Quality Environmental Professionals, Inc., or QEPI, headquartered in Indianapolis, had tough decisions to make late in 2008 and early 2009 when the economy took a downturn.

QEPI owner, Deb Peters, cut her company’s reliance on color copying, which was costing $9,000 every quarter, and implemented sharing files electronically, and using black and white copies when paper was necessary. Another change she made was in the employee break room, where she stopped buying employees’ coffee in individual packets and began purchasing large cans of coffee from Sam’s Club. By making these and other cuts, Peters was able to keep all of her 34 employees instead of making cuts by layoffs.

Other small businesses cut back on hiring cleaning and lawn care help and asked their employees to help with those tasks to prevent in-house layoffs. A survey of 100 human resource executives conducted by consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas found that more than 66.7 percent of these companies cut travel expenses, and more than 6 percent began letting their employees telecommute to cut office space expenses. Work instead could be done through online conference calls and other technology, such as instant messaging, to communicate with their customers, materials suppliers, vendors and with company employees in satellite offices. In some cases, the satellite offices were dispensed with altogether, resulting in even more savings, and employees in those offices now work from home.

Working together to get through lean times usually strengthens a business overall and positions it for growth during the next economic boom.

About the author: Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.

Also by Lindsey Harper Mac

Why “be the best” when you could be the one making the rules? | WiseWolf Talking – the WiseWolf Coaching Blog.

The Makings of a Great Leader | WiseWolf Talking – the WiseWolf Coaching Blog.

 

Recessionary Boom for Small Business

Today we have a guest post from Carlo Pandian who is a freelance writer based in Toronto.  He blogs about small business, accountancy and technology covering everything from Mac accounting software to cloud apps.

Recessionary Boom for Small Business

Times are tough for businesses of any size but it seems that the small business is having the better time of it.  Not only are small firms negotiating the perils of recession in Canada, but it is a trend that is being repeated globally.  In addition, the number of small firms being established is growing to record levels.  While this is partly an effect of the recession, as more people simply turn to themselves for employment, it’s also a great deal to do with technology.  Recent developments have made setting up and running a small firm far easier than in the past and the ability to run your own company is no longer limited to those with large amounts of cash or previous business experience.  Whatever the size of firm you run, using the following tools can allow you to grow and succeed, despite the difficulties of the recession.

Ancient Technologies

The internet is already beginning to seem old hat and that makes it easy to overlook as a key business tool.  Back in the nineties it was the biggest technological advance for possibly a century.  Since those days of creaking, bleeping and occasionally blipping modems we’ve come a long way.  The internet can even seem a bit boring; the reason being that it’s no more than a tool to many of us. We’ve become used to its presence and it’s now the way many of us shop, find entertainment or chat to friends.  The internet offers a solution for many things in life and for business this particular tool should be an essential one.

Forget Blue Skies; Clouds are Better

There’s a massive range of software available – much of it in cloud computing form – that can offer almost limitless benefits to your business.  Key online software includes accountancy software, HR software and CRM software.  Many of these tools are available on free trial basis and with the online versions you don’t have the hassle of installing, updating and fixing the software if there are problems.  Using cloud based software can free up hard drive space and relieve you of the IT maintenance duties that in the past may well have kept you up all night!

The art of getting paid

One area of concern for any business, but particularly small businesses, is payment.  Clients can be strangely payment averse occasionally and this trait holds some rather unpleasant pitfalls for small or new businesses.  Large firms have often more room for manoeuvre in this case, but small firms need cash flowing in faster than it flows out.  Again, advances in technology have meant that it doesn’t matter how micro you are, you can still have access to major payment solutions.  These involve simple online card payment tools and mobile payment solutions.  In Canada one service, GoPayment, enables small traders to turn their mobile phones into a card reader and take payment on delivery, rather than several months and a couple of legal letters later.  It’s a simple solution that no small firm should be without.

Oh, yes, phones

Talking of phones, where would any of us be without the Smartphone?  These have taken over our lives and offer small businesses the opportunity to go truly mobile and stay flexible.  Of course it doesn’t matter what size of firm you run, without a smart phone you are doomed to failure.  OK, so that’s going a little far, you can still succeed in business without the latest model.  However, it’s surprising just how much time your phone can save and combined with simple tools such as GoPayment, mentioned above, a phone can be just about all you’ll need in the way of office premises.

Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer based in Toronto and blogs about small business, accountancy and technology covering everything from Mac accounting software to cloud apps. Despite tough economic times, small businesses are thriving.  Technology that allows them to be more flexible than larger competitors is a crucial part of this recipe for small, but perfectly formed, success.  From online accounting to mobile payment solutions, technology is driving change in the business world faster than ever before.  

BBC News – Money Box Live: Small businesses

BBC Radio 4's Money Box Live Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 1502 BST On Radio 4 and Online

Are you an independent contractor or a manager in a small business or perhaps you are involved in a business start-up? If so, you will be interested in today’s edition of BBC Radio 4’s Money Box Live

You can find the BBC Podcast at this link

Despite the challenging economic conditions, the number of small businesses in the UK continues to grow.

A number of Government initiatives were launched earlier last month aimed at helping small firms.

The National Loan Guarantee Scheme will aid businesses with cheaper finance by reducing the cost of bank loans under the scheme by 1%.

Key announcements for business in last month’s Budget include:

  • A cut in the main rate of Corporation Tax from 26% to 24% next month;
  • The Enterprise Management Incentive scheme will provide additional help to start-ups;
  •  The Government is consulting on how to make it easier for sole traders and small businesses to calculate their taxable income.

Topics considered include;

  • Are you starting a small business and want advice on the best way of going about it?
  • Do you run a small business and want help on calculating your tax?
  • If you are approaching your bank for a loan what must you bear in mind?
  • What are the biggest issues facing your business?
  • Are you struggling with unsecured or secured debt?
  • Is the Government doing enough to support small business?

Vincent Duggleby was joined by:

Iestyn Davies, Federation of Small Businesses

Mike Warburton, Grant Thorton

James Henry, Business Debtline

Peter Ibbotson, Natwest/RBS

Presenter: Vincent Duggleby

RELATED INTERNET LINKS

HMRC

HMRC Budget 2012

DWP

Federation of Small Businesses

Business Debtline

National Loan Guarantee Scheme

Businesslink

WiseWolf Talking and the BBC are not responsible for the content of external internet sites

via BBC News – Money Box Live: Small businesses

3 ways you can develop the confidence you need to become self-employed

confidence

Today we have a guest post from Antoinette Oglethorpe.  Antoinette  specialises in helping business leaders and professionals take control of their careers and realise their ambitions. Her special report on “How to become self-employed confidently & successfully” is available at www.takingtheplungeseries.com

3 ways you can develop the confidence you need to become self-employed

To move successfully into self-employment you need to believe in yourself, your capability and your ability to make things happen.  In essence, you need to know you can make it a success whatever happens.

No-one is going to be totally self-confident all the time.  As a very successful business man once said “If things are going really well you can’t get over-excited because you’re not a genius; but if things get difficult you can’t get too downhearted because you’re not a fool either”

Sometimes the biggest risk is doing nothing and without risk there is likely to be no reward.

Here are 3 ways you can use a simple 1 to 10 scale to develop the confidence you will need to become self-employed.

  1. Personal reflection.  Thinking about a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is that you have total confidence you can make a success of self-employment and 1 is no confidence at all, where would you put yourself today?  Now the typical inclination of most people is to then focus on all the reasons they’re not at 10.  Instead of that, I’m going to suggest that you think about all the things that put you as high as you are – however high that is – and not lower.  What knowledge do you have that will help?  What skills do you have that will help?  What experience do you have that will help?  What aspects of your personality will help?  What other transitions have you made in your life in the past?  What helped in those cases?
  1. Feedback from others.  Think about all the feedback you have had from others – friends, family, colleagues, and previous bosses.  What do other people know and say about you that gives you confidence?  Ask them for their honest answers to the above questions.
  1. Focus on small steps.  Focussing on trying to get to 10 can have the opposite effect to the one you’re trying to achieve.  It can seem such a far way off that it paralyses and demotivates you.  So don’t worry about 10 for now.  Instead, think about what would be different if you were just one point higher up the scale.  Would you have developed a particular skill? Would you have obtained feedback from other self-employed individuals?  Would you have researched your business idea or something else?   What needs to happen to increase your confidence by one point?  What small first steps could you take to move towards that?

By thinking about what’s already giving you confidence, getting feedback from others and focussing on small steps you can break it down to some immediate, manageable actions that you can take to make progress.

Antoinette Oglethorpe specialises in helping business leaders and professionals take control of their careers and realise their ambitions. Her special report on “How to become self-employed confidently & successfully” is available at www.takingtheplungeseries.com.