Taking the plunge and starting your own business can be a scary (and exciting) thing! If you’re going to be running this business out of your home, that can be great! Who doesn’t like working in their pajamas? In fact, I wish I were wearing mine right now. However, there are some things to keep in mind if you want to be successful and run your business smoothly from the comfort of your own home!
Focus your energy one or two products that you really believe in. At least in the beginning, this will help you get a work rhythm and not feel too overwhelmed when you are the only person in the office.
Afterwards, you can add some more products to your product line. However, when branching out, try to find/create products that complement your first products. For example, if you sell t-shirts, add a hoodie to your clothing line. If you sell coffee beans, start offering a coffee grinder. Make sure the products go well together and you’ll increase the chances of selling them together and/or winning over a repeat customer.
Recommended reading: How to start selling online with a single product
This could easily be number one on this list. “… but websites are not for every business!” you say. Some small business owners often focus on their brick-and-mortar shop or the outdoor markets that they go to weekly.
That’s all well and good, but I’ll say this: wherever you prefer selling, you can always use a website. Even if you’re not selling anything directly on the website, this can be a reference point for anyone who’s heard about your products and wants to know more. You can let shoppers know where they can find your products.
However, I’d still recommend trying to sell online. The tendency for people to shop online is going higher and higher. Why limit yourself to the neighborhood or city that you work in? The beauty of the internet is that the whole world is now your potential customer. There are a lot of shop softwares out there that make the process easy, like Magento or Shopify.
Getting a website up to promote your business is a great step to getting found by your customers. However, to really get found, you’ll have to promote your website. If you didn't know it yet, Google and Facebook are the powerhouses of online marketing. If you don’t have a big budget, decide what your priorities are. As a general rule of thumb, Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) helps your customers find you and Facebook ads help you find your customers.
Besides paid ads, you can also create social media accounts to connect with your customers. Create a Facebook page and an Instagram account and update them as regularly as you can. Just a few minutes every day can help build an audience and increase conversions.
There are a lot of legal issues you need to concern yourself with when starting a business. For starters, you should definitely make sure that it is legal to run a business from your home. Some municipalities and neighborhoods don’t allow this, so check that this is legal first. Secondly, make sure that your homeowner’s insurance covers this as well.
Other legal issues that you’ll want to think about are your terms and conditions. If you sell internationally, you should know that shoppers are protected by the consumer rights laws of their country of residency.
These countries might have some special laws that you’ll want to be aware of (i.e. the Abmahnung system in Germany) before entering that market. Hiring legal specialists (like the ones at Trusted Shops) is one option, but either way, make sure you do your market research before agreeing to sell to international customers.
Okay, this might be the most boring tip of all, but it needs to be said. If you’re working from home and you are your own boss, make sure that you keep records of everything. Your accountant will thank you and hopefully you won’t have to deal with the tax authorities, but in case you do, you’ll be prepared.
In general, you can look at this tip as an organisational one. Create a system to keep your paperwork, emails, and vital information easy to access and easy to organise.
Working from home has its advantages. Working in your pajamas can be fun, but it might not really set the right tone for working efficiently. Make your bed in the morning, get dressed, set up a routine, and make sure your friends and family know your business hours to remain undisturbed. Also, you might want to consider setting up a work space for yourself (e.g. turn that guest bedroom into an office). Having a dedicated “office” for yourself can really help you stay on course.
Working from home takes real discipline, and remember, you’re the boss now, so you make the rules.
Your online presence is growing. You’ve got a website and you’re advertising. You’re getting lots of visitors, but perhaps you’re not closing as many sales as you’d like. This could be a trust issue.
As your website is new and relatively unknown, you’re going to want to build yourself up a reputation. Online reviews have become today’s version of word-of-mouth.
Shoppers have come to rely on each other for advice and opinions on products and services and writing reviews is exactly how this happens today. Having a review system that reminds your shoppers to leave reviews and then forwards these to Google to show off your star ratings is a great way to bridge the trust gap that exists when shoppers visit an unknown site.
Additionally, you might want to consider a trustmark, a 3rd party certification, which tells customers that your shop follows best practices and is trustworthy.
Working from home can be one of the most satisfying endeavors you ever take on. However, it comes with its own challenges, all of which can be conquered with the right mindset. Stay motivated, stay disciplined, but don’t stay in your pajamas!