Working form home can be a huge blessing and for stay at home moms it is a great way to generate supplemental income, but how should business be conducted? I discussed Ideas for home business in previous articles but what I want to address here is helpful tips that will assist you with your home based occupation.
Obviously the industry you are taking part in will have a huge role on how your day to day will look but if you are serious about succeeding with your home based business you need to treat it as serious as you would any other business. The home based business market is huge, people everywhere are doing business out of their homes, but not everyone is treating their business with the severity it demands.
Take Your Home Business Seriously
Take the term “you get what you pay for” This phrase is from the consumers perspective, but as a business owner you should also think about it from the suppliers perspective. If you are to provide a product or service and require people to pay for it, it is your responsibility to deliver.
By taking the time to set up policies, procedures, and designated schedules you are minimizing variability which in turn will increase your quality. You will have a happier customer base which will be much more likely to come back to you time and time again. I am not saying you need to nail everything down but I am saying the more you can define about how you provide your product or service the higher your inherent quality should be. That said do not compromise your product or service for the sake of policy, there are times when it make sense and times when it does not.
Keep in mind, the second you think you have the right to slouch off is the second your company starts its trend into the red. Maintaining a method of continuous improvement is the first defense against failing to meet customer’s expectations.
Separate Personal and Professional Life
I use to have a representative that worked out of his home in Alabama and he told me that every day he awoke at the same time, conducted his morning routine, and got dressed in his suit just as if he were headed to the office. When I asked him why he said if he didn’t he mentally did not feel as though he was going to work. Not everyone will need to go to such great lengths to get into the right mind set but once you find the groove that allows you to separate your personal and professional life, stick with it. A home office is nice until the kids and dog come running in during a conference call with a potential client.
Pay For Quality Recourses
For some reason people tend to believe that simply because business is conducted at home it must also operates on a shoe string budget. While it is wise to keep an eye on your expenses and not overextend yourself, don’t be afraid to pay for quality recourses. If you are looking into graphic design, get the nice computer with the benchmark software. If you are looking into landscaping, stich with industrial level products like Toro and stay away from the consumer products found at the local hardware store.
This can be used to your advantage. If the market you are involved in is saturated with home based businesses and you go the extra mile to print on your own letter head or send personalized swag as a thank-you your customers will recognize your efforts. Being home based does not mean unprofessional or cheap! If anything it will require a more intentional approach to how your company is perceived.
Having a dedicated cell phone, land line, or answering service would be prudent move for most. As a bootstrapping small business you don’t want to pay a ton for any of these but you want to make sure customers can get a hold of you. Land lines can be as little as $20.00 a year, and as stone age as it may sound a having a fax machine on a land line adds to the professional ambiance of your company.
Call everyone back regardless of the issue. Your customers are coming to you because you offer a value they can’t find down the street. Calling customers back, building report, and staying in touch lets them know that you are there and that you care. I would also suggest making phone calls in response to an email. If someone sends you an email regarding an issue, respond in an email and follow up with a phone call.
As a small business one of the biggest things your customers will be looking for is a quick response or a fast turnaround. Having a fast lead time is part of small business and is essential if you want to succeed in the long run. In many industries a faster lead time may be all you have over your larger competitors.
It can sometimes be difficult to handle many inquiries for your product or service but the more you define and redefine your system the faster you will be able to get back to your customer base. This won’t apply to everyone but as a rule of thumb; if you find yourself repeating a process over and over again, write a program. Computers are great at handling repetitive and semi repetitive tasks.
The longer you provide your product or service the more intuition you build and ultimately the faster you become at meeting your customer’s needs.
Add More Value
The smaller the business the more it should be positioned to offer custom solutions. If your operation consists of only you it will be your job to tailor your solutions to your customer’s needs. Little things like sending flowers to a client in the hospital, or fixing a problem that you weren’t hired to fix can speak volumes about you and your company. This will also set you up for a customer base that is willing to refer others to you.
The more value you provide and the more relational you are, the more your customers will love doing business with you. Let us know your experience regarding home based businesses, we are here to help.