Updated: Dec 4, 2020
The world is changing. It’s a great time to explore how to run a home based business successfully.
It’s an exciting time. With more people taking that brave step away from the security of traditional employment and into business for themselves. There is a lot to consider when going out alone. But none is more important than setting yourself up to not only survive, but to thrive.
Folks, the gig economy has created a delicate ecosystem of meritocracy. So, it’s not just enough to decide to go into business for yourself, you need to stay on your toes. (Produce or perish as they say.)
Now, I could dedicate an entire book to this subject, but here are some ideas to consider when thinking about how to run a home based business. They apply whether you’re a virtual assistant, creative, freelancer, business coach, photographer, service provider or sell products online.
How to Run a Home Based Business
First and foremost, when running a business from home you MUST create a space to work. True, having a remote or virtual business means that you are portable. However, as a business owner you must carefully consider whether your space is the optimal environment to produce your best work.
Having a dedicated workspace not only allows you to find inspiration without distraction, it also creates a physical boundary between your personal life and your business life. (Believe it or not there is such a thing. And if this is of interest to you, check out my post on work life balance.)
I have worked out of my home for close to a decade now (ranging from a home office for my providore, to a direct sales side hustle, to senior leadership positions). I have tested many work settings and have honestly found the solution which ticks all the boxes is to have a dedicated room as my office. (And yes, I call it an office, not a study.)
Simon Sinek became the purpose peddler with his Ted Talk and book, Start with Why. (A great read, by the way, along with his other book, Leaders Eat Last).
Purpose is the link between your passion, talents, values and mission. And, in fact, it’s one of the five core elements of psychological well-being and happiness (PERMA) according to Martin Seligman (the ‘father of positive psychology’).
So, if you’re not clear on WHY you do what you do, this is something you should consider. Your purpose will shape your decisions, propel you forward and underpin EVERYTHING you do.
Lastly, and most importantly, when it comes to staying on course, your purpose will also be your greatest source of inspiration and motivation. This is especially so when you are in a tough place with your business.
PROCESSES AND SYSTEMS
Routines and habits are often coined as the secret source of top performers. Most successful people are ritualistic in the way they set up their days. And let’s face it, thriving organisations are rich in procedures and processes, too.
I know for myself when I don’t follow my own morning processes, the wheels quickly fall off. It’s up to you to create a system that works for you, but here is an example of mine.
Wake up at 6am. I usually lay in bed for 15 minutes, quickly check my Instagram account and map out my day ahead. It’s usually around 6.15am my kids climb in with me. We snuggle and chat until around 6.30, which is when we all get up and get ready for the day.
The first thing I do is make the kids breakfast and their school lunches. Then I walk around open the blinds, make all of the beds and tidy the kitchen etc. My reward for these efforts is my first coffee of the day (ALWAYS bulletproof). And then it’s time to get myself ready.
Even though I work from home, I always do my hair and makeup. I then make sure all other chores are done and everything is in place before I run the kids to school. When I return from the school drop off, I am all good to start my work day.
The key to success here is to treat my morning as if I am going ‘off to work’. Mess, cooking, washing are all distractions for me. So, if this has been dealt with first thing in the morning, then my head is clear and I am ready to produce. In an ideal world I would add in some meditation or journaling. (I will get there one day.)
I also allow 30 minutes somewhere in the middle of the day to get some ‘me time’. This is when I take a break from my desk. Sometimes it’s a quick workout downstairs, walking my dog or playing with him in the back garden.
The last thing I do before my workday ends is write a TO DO list for the following day. That way I can park my business and be present with my family. And I can also hit the ground running the next workday. (Everything I do is about being my most productive self.)
“LEARNING IS NOT ATTAINED BY CHANCE, IT MUST BE SOUGHT FOR WITH ARDOR AND ATTENDED TO WITH DILIGENCE.” ABIGAIL ADAMS
As a self-professed learning junkie, I cannot express how important it is to continue to learn and work on yourself (both professionally and personally). Having spent the past few years in the coaching and L&D space, I experienced first-hand just how critical it is to continue to learn and evolve. This is quite possibly even more essential as a solopreneur. First, because it keeps you relevant. And second, because you are not being advanced by an employer, so in order to grow your skills you need to take ownership of your own development.
In the digital era, there is an abundance of ways to learn. Here are some of my favourites.
University publications – Harvard Business Review and Stanford Magazine are great examples.
Online business magazines – I personally read Forbes and Success.
E-learning – There is a huge number to choose from. I am a fan of Coursera (a platform founded by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller).
Books – An oldie but a goodie.
YouTube is an awesome resource to deep dive into ‘How to’ videos.
Instagram + Pinterest are great places for inspiration and learning about the latest trends.
LinkedIn is a treasure trove of professional content and articles.
Peer learning – Get out and network and learn from others doing well in your industry.
I strongly encourage you to commit to learning every single day. BUT remember learning without execution is a waste of time. You must take the learning and put it into action, especially when working out how to run your home based business well.
“YOU ARE THE AVERAGE OF THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU SPEND THE MOST TIME WITH.” JIM ROHN
Be sure to spend time with supporters not detractors. Now, your friends needn’t be your customer, but they should be supportive of what you do for a living. Here are some things to consider when it comes to deciding WHO to spend time with:
1. Do they support your goals and aspirations in work and life?
2. Do you feel energised after spending time with them?
3. Do you FEEL good when you are around them?
4. Do you trust them?
5. Do they have a positive outlook? Because positivity breeds positivity.
And for bonus points
6. Do they give you honest feedback (from a place of love and support).
It’s no coincidence that relationships also form part of Martin Seligmen’s PERMA model. As human beings we have a deep need to have meaningful relationships and social connections.
And, lastly when it comes to people, make sure you get out and network face to face. When you’re working alone, behind a screen all day, it's even more important to get out and meet with likeminded business owners. Not only will you meet some great people, it’s an excellent way to get leads for your business.
OVER TO YOU
I would love to hear your top tips for how to run a thriving home based business?