Starting A Business At Home Is A Family
by Theresa V. Wilson, M.ED.
The level and quality of family input and support are often ignored when starting a business. Even with money and inventive ideas, family backing and emotional support are primary ingredients to success. This article provides questions which must be considered before embarking on any business venture. Don’t let your initial responses, however, disappoint or persuade you to change your mind before you begin. They are meant to encourage you to be creative, think beyond the box, eliminate “tunnel vision,” and to master the possibilities of being an independent self-starter ready to be a successful entrepreneur.
Do You Have Family Support For Your Home Based Business Idea? Starting a business is challenging and difficult. Even with money and inventive ideas, family backing and emotional support are primary ingredients to success. Home based in itself means that more than one person will be affected by changes in environment and living conditions. Many home based businesses falter because owners fail to take into account the adjustments that naturally occur when working out of the home. Before embarking on any “at home” business take the time to explore the idea with all involved. Make a list of advantages and disadvantages together. Especially when children are involved, be sure to include them in this important phase of planning. Discuss “do’s” and “don’ts” when the parent is on “work time”. Clarify “quality time,” so that you diffuse resentment of changes in lifestyle patterns. Make sure everyone “buys in” to the concept of a work at home business. Most importantly, develop marketing strategies and projections so that each family member has assignments and business related “jobs” that encourage a sense of shared business ownership. Remember succeeding in business is difficult enough without the certainty of family support.
How Will You Know If You’re Ready? Home based businesses are more than a run-of-the- mill idea. One important consideration is selecting something not only of interest to you, but is also something you are capable of doing. It should be a business for which you have a high level of expertise as a result of professional and/or career interests and abilities or because of a hobby you’ve practiced over the years. Never elect to start a business based totally on new untested ideas or based on a dependency on the ideas of another. If you have not fully developed your idea, take the time to investigate and explore it from various viewpoints. Take the time to research your topic and write a vision for your business plan. It might also be worthwhile attend seminar or workshop training sessions on developing and writing a business plan. Keep the family involved in these early stage development plans. Remember, two heads are better than one. You also encourage continued family ownership in business development.
How Much Money Will You Need? The amount of money needed for starting your home based business depends on the product or services you are selling. Bridal consulting businesses, for example require low overhead costs. A computer and printer, telephone, file cabinet, paper, pens, etc. are some of the basic start up materials needed. However, arts and crafts, floral arrangements, or gift baskets will demand purchase of items needed to prepare the products for sale. With proper planning and business projections, you will be able to develop financial projections based on beginning inventories, expenses and estimated sales. Planning business income strategies and cutting costs for inventory investments can create a need for additional family discussions. What luxury items must be sacrificed or detoured during the business start phase? What family vacations will be delayed or eliminated and for how long? Up front and open family conversations at the beginning of business planning can help eliminate unnecessary disappointments later.
Do You Have A Product or Idea Worth Selling? This is where a family’s input becomes an immeasurable tool. Your family is your first line of prospecting and sales. You can start by presenting your idea as part of a family meeting. Your presentation should be as thorough and professional as if you are about to make the most important sale of your career. Encourage them to role play customer questions and responses. This strategy serves a dual purpose. You gain from a critical “in-house” critique of your product or idea before it goes public, and you gain family members with a broader perspective of the company and their role as marketing advocates or potential sales representatives.
Do You Have A “Niche” Market? Who are your customers? A niche market is a small group of people who have a particular interest in what you are selling. It is important to develop a description of people you feel will purchase your product or will be receptive to the services you offer. Your marketing plan is developed based on the identity of your niche market. Your niche market will be composed of people buying products and service that will benefit them. Look closely at your product or service and make a list potential customers. Remember, people seek to buy things that will help them or make them or their loved ones feel or look better. Your goal is to have your business viewed as offering something of benefit to others. Take the time to evaluate your product or service then decide what type of people will benefit the most by using it. They will be your niche market.
Can You Afford a Marketing Strategy? You’ve developed your business plan, secured start up financing, identified your “niche” market and are ready to sell. Implementing a marketing strategy is an area where we all have made mistakes. Often we assume the only way to get an idea, product or service recognized is to invest large sums of money, the lack of which means no success. Don’t forget to think out of the box. With just a little exploration in basic marketing techniques, you can get into the competitive arena on
a limited budget. Instead of spending an enormous amount of money, you will reinvest energy resulting in better use of quality time.
You can invest in low cost e-commerce web sites to advertise and market your product or service. It is best to research and select web site programs that allow you to prepare, edit, add and delete content and pictures at your own pace. Take the time to learn how to manage your own site and save money. Publish articles on the web, so that you can attract customers to your site. Establish auto responders on your web pages so that people can interact and learn more about your products. Family input is key. Let them participate in this process. Encourage them to share ideas and include them in the step by step planning and development process.
Will You Be Successful? Your level of success in working at home is measured based on the amount of input and time you invest in your business. It will be enhanced by the quality partnerships you develop with people as close as the kitchen table. If you include your family in the very beginning of the planning process, they will be your foundation of support and encouragement. They will be key assets for promoting and marketing strategies. They will be your first line of defense and support during those challenging “lean” times every business experiences. Starting and running a business is a family affair. If you can find their comfort level of involvement, you will help increase your chances for success.
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