Hi All! As you know I made the leap from Corporate America to working from home and as a result I learned some valuable lessons and gained some great insight from others who are further along in their Home-Based business than I am. I have compiled sixteen (16) down to earth, common sense tips that I used to help me set up my home-based business. Hope they might help others too!
Time Blocking. I have always been good at making “To-Do Lists”, but getting everything on them done was a problem! Abby from “justagirlandherblog.com” helped me overcome this problem. I bought her ebook “Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook” and in it she mentions “Time Blocking”, a tool she uses to help her effectively manage her To-Do list. She creates her list and then assigns each task to a certain time of day, planning everything out hour by hour. Once I read this I just went DAH!! That’s what I need to do. For me it made sense because I tend to work on one project for 12 hours and then at the end of the day, I have only accomplished one thing. What makes me feel the most productive is to accomplish a variety of things, some big, some little, some hard and some easy. Below is an example of how I took Abby’s concept and used it to schedule my day. (Please note, I’m and Early bird!)
5:00am: Give Thanks then check emails, blog and my ETSY site
5:30am: Spend an hour in my craft room. I do this before I do anything else. It really is my favorite time of the day. Everyone else is still asleep and its just me and my craft room working in harmony!
6:30am: Make sure kids are up and getting ready for school. Take Jack and John to High School; remind Joely to hurry up; then the both of us read for about 15 minutes and then off to Joely’s school.
9:00am: Read other blogs and connect with other bloggers
10:30am: Write and/or research posts
12:30pm: Short break for lunch
12:45pm: Craft room time. Good solid two hours to work on my projects
2:45pm: Keep up with industry trends.
3:45pm: Pick up Joely from school, make dinner, spend family time with my kids and husband.
9:30pm: Review “To-do” list and prepare for the next day. Preparing for the next day really makes Time Blocking even more effective. This is the time that I decide what I am going to do in those pre-defined Time Blocks and prepare for it. For instance, I block 1 hour a day to keep up with industry trends. This involves reading periodicals, magazines, ebooks, etc. However, if I have to spend 1/2 of my hour trying to find something to read then my time blocking isn’t has effective as it could be so I make it a point to have these resources available.
10:00pm: Give Thanks!
Set up a Home office: This is key to starting successful a home-based business. It helps to limit distractions and set boundaries. When I first started my business, my “office” was my kitchen table. There were so many distractions that I found myself doing laundry, cleaning closets, walking the dogs, everything except working on my business. The best thing I did was to set up my office in a corner of my craft room. It was where I loved to be anyway! After that, my productivity skyrocketed! The other thing I did was to never never never turn the TV on! I am a TV junkie so having it on took my focus from growing my business to wondering just what was behind Door #1 on the “Price is Right”. I still miss Bob Barker!
Have the Right Tools: I am a huge shopper, so any excuse to run to the store is a good one! Steve, my husband, has a different philosophy. He makes a list and goes once. This is a bit unsatisfying for me but when working from home, going to the store five times a week is a REAL distraction. So limit your trips to the store, make a list and get everything you need in one trip. If you do find that you need something, it doesn’t mean you need it RIGHT NOW! Write it down on your “list” and get it next time you go out.
Set Limits: Your time, work area and tools are important components to being successful. Something I learned was, don’t let you kids or significant other use your work computer. In the beginning all three of my kids had accounts on my laptop. I was constantly looking for it as one of them would be playing games on it or doing homework. When I finally tracked it down, the battery was, of course, at 2%. If you can, get them one of their own. If not, then set time limits. For instance, from 10am to 4pm, the computer is off limits. These time limits also come into play when your kids are home, they know Mom is working and from 10am to 4pm, she is (for the most part) off limits.
Enjoy your Flexibility: One reason so many of us are working from home is to be able to spend more quality time with our families. This was one of the biggest reasons I left corporate america. I wanted to be a better Mom and Wife. I know that sounds so 1950’s but its true. Its important for women to not devalue the roll we play as Moms and Wives. When I started working from home it felt so good to actually make dinner for my family. While working at my corporate job, I would get home too late to make dinner so many times we would end up eating cereal or have some sort of frozen meal that Steve would start. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated Steve for helping but I love to cook and I always felt like a ‘bad mother” when my kids had to eat crappy dinners! Now I make a home cooked meal every night……..well almost every night!
Define Your Own Success. In many situations working in Corporate America, someone else decides if you are doing a good job, if you get a raise or promotion and they can decide when you are no longer needed! By having your own business, you are in charge. You define the rules, goals and guidelines for success. For me, working harder in Corporate America only meant I that more projects could be put on my plate. I couldn’t get ahead. The more I tried to get my arms around everything I had to do, the less I saw my family. Even when I was home, I was worried about work, checked emails constantly and never relaxed, not even for a moment. I was stressed and very unhappy. So when I decided to start my own business, the first metric I decided to track was my own Happiness! I knew that having my own business would be hard, really hard, but I figured as long as I was happy, everything else would work out.
Set Goals with Deadlines. Setting goals for your business is essential but goals with out deadlines doesn’t ensure success. You need goals big enough to get excited about and deadlines to keep you focused. One isn’t much good without the other, but together they can be powerful! Spend some quality time developing goals with deadlines, it will pay off in the end.
Get Tech Savvy. This has been a challenge for me. For 20 plus years I had the benefit of an having an IT department only a phone call away. The only thing I needed to know was their number! So when starting my business, especially when setting up my Blog, I was clueless. The first thing I did was find a good resource. I searched and found Abby of Justagirlandherblog.com. She had written an ebook called “Building a Framework – The Ultimate Blogging Handbook.” I read it from start to finish….a couple of times. In the beginning, I felt like such an idiot, even the simplest IT terms were foreign to me. But I kept at it. I kept reading and working through the book, until I slowly began to understand and was able to set up my blog. Wow! I was so proud of myself! It was a great feeling! This small success helped me to keep going! Mark Twain said it best, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Remember, the internet is a great place to find resources for just about anything including technical assistance! Keep at it, don’t give up, there is a resource out there that will help you!
Be in Charge of Your Schedule! Schedule appointments at the beginning or end of the day. One thing that completely throws my day’s plan in the trash is having an appointment right in the middle of the day. I don’t want to start a project, only to stop in the middle of it to take the kids to the dentist. Plus, I never seem to get back in the “groove” after the appointment. I either end up in the kitchen or watching TV!” For me morning meetings or appointments work best. Remember you are in charge of your schedule, make it work for you.
Stay away from the Kitchen! Before I set up my home office, I sprawled out on the kitchen table so whenever, I got a bit bored or had a creative block I would get a cookie or even worse I would make cookies! This didn’t help my business or my waistline.
Stay Connected. Staying connected to the outside world is key to sanity and inspiration! Connect with others in your same niche or industry. If there are local groups or clubs specific to your business, join them! If your business involves Blogging, building relationships with other Bloggers is essential! Find Bloggers that you admire and start following them. Watch what they do, learn from them. They can help you in your journey and can provide advice, encouragement and support. They’ve been through it!
Dress For Success! Get ready for work everyday. This is really important and something I didn’t do in the beginning. The first week I was at home I went five days without showering!! Seriously! I quickly learned that starting the day like I was going to work outside the home, made me more productive! The only difference is I don’t have to wear hose!
Start the day with inspiration! I love a good quote and try to start each day with one. I post them on my site and love for my readers to send in their favorites as well. I also make it a point to have a notebook with me no matter where I am. I always want to be ready to jot down an idea, thought or inspiration. You never know where they’ll come from.
Be Thankful. Giving thanks is so important to me. I thank God everyday for well…..Everything! The hard times, good times, my kids, my husband, blue skies, indoor plumbing, flannel pajamas….everything. After living through a really rough year, I don’t want to take anything for granted, no matter how big or how small.
Money doesn’t Grow on Trees. Watch your Budget. In the beginning I wanted to fully equip my office with all the latest gadgets and technology. I also signed up for every class, tutorial, webinar, and ebook I could find on blogging and running home based businesses. This is not a bad approach but know when enough is enough! Make sure that what you are buying is really what you need and not “fluff”. Take this same approach when signing up for classes or webinars as well.
Just Do It! When I first decided to start my own blog, I signed up for every webinar and bought every ebook I could find on the subject. After awhile, I realized that I was buying the same information only packaged differently by different people. What I needed to do was just take the plunge and get started! As Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go”. Or if you want it in more direct terms, Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group merely said, ……“Screw it, let’s do it.”
I hope you find these tips helpful whether you have already have a home-based business, in the process of setting one up or are just thinking about it! Just remember, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Colin Powell
Subscribe to IzzySwankStyle
Sign up and get a free tutorial on how to make this fun and funky shoulder bag made from recycled t-shirts. The tutorial describes how to make this bag using a serger but you can easily use a traditional sewing machine too! To see other completed bags go to my ETSY shop at IzzySwank!