You have thought, from time to time, of starting a business you could run from your home, but now you’re serious. The broad areas of service, sales, or manufacturing all lend themselves to home-based businesses, and within those categories you could do anything from writing and social-media marketing to cutting hair or making and selling jewelry or clothing items. Once you know what you want to do, you can start building a business plan and hammering out the details.
Some people want to focus only on their kids during their first years, but chances are if you’re reading this, you’re willing to juggle.
Plan for success. Realize that while caring for kids is often less focused on schedules and deadlines, work often requires a very different kind of focus. Lay out what is available to you in terms of child care. Switching back and forth between a kid’s schedule and what the business world expects can be tiring, but there are ways to make it work. Commit to a realistic business schedule from day one so you don’t overstress yourself.
What times will your kids be around? Keep a list of what can be done while they’re home. Set a strict work schedule. You can let your kids know when you will be working. When they sense a routine, they will know when to expect to spend time with you.
If you do have child care, consider getting some shared office space. Sometimes it’s too crazy to completely separate home life from working time in the same space. Separate office space means you’ll be able to escape to a place you’ve dedicated to getting work done.
Plan regular tasks you will complete and when you will do them. Consider planning different parts of the day or week for blog writing, social media, following up on sales leads, networking, etc.
If you can keep some ground rules, you’ll prevent yourself from running into the ground. Consider rules like, “I don’t work on weekends” and “I won’t work after the kids are in bed.” Remember to take lunch breaks and make time for family holidays.
You can use a project management tool to save time and keep everything organized. Keep everything related to one client together so that you can solve clients’ concerns rapidly.
Streamline your workflows by getting the computer to take over the little things. Consider automating email responses with a simple “Thanks for contacting us, we will get back to you in the next 48 hours.” This is an easy way to boost customer trust.
Plan to use cloud-based software like ZipBooks to save time and effort. You don’t need to download or upgrade anything, just sign up for online accounting software to lessen your load. You can send invoices online, track time, record quotes and project work, and keep track of client information. Plus, you’ll get paid faster when you streamline the billing process.
Finally, you’ll probably want to find a trustworthy CPA in your area almost as soon as you’re up and running. Payroll, taxes, and similar tasks require a certain level of expertise, and hiring a CPA can free your time to focus on what you’re good at. Local accountants are usually very affordable with no minimums—they’ll grow with you without costing too much up front, and can be valuable advisors.
Don’t forget to look outside of what’s right in front of you. Ask friends, neighbors, and other business owners how they have solved issues. And look to business bloggers and advisers for tricks of the trade. Other people are a powerful resource, and most are more than happy the share their best tips.
Brad Hanks is in charge of Growth at ZipBooks.