If you operate a home business, you are more than likely taking advantage of the many tax deductions available for a home office, like utility payments and depreciation on your vehicle. However, it is important to remember that taxes are not the only area you need to pay attention to when you want your company to grow. These four practices are often ignored by home business owners, yet they can be critical to your success.
Take Time for Marketing
When you operate a home-based business, you usually do not have a sign out front letting people know your business is there. Marketing is more critical for home-based businesses than it is for other companies as people won’t know you exist if you don’t tell them you do. Just like any other business, you need to create a marketing plan and update it annually.
Set a goal to contact ten new clients each day, five days per week. You can do that through email, social media, fax, letter or phone calls. Send coupons, brochures, updates or thank-you notes each day. Printing and mailing five letters will cost just $2.75 while phone calls or faxes cost less than a quarter. If you do use email to reach clients, keep your message to less than 250 words and use a subject line that catches attention.
Sometimes, it is not what you purchase for your business that makes a difference, but how you make those purchases. In some cases, you may be able to avoid spending cash by using barter with another company. For example, you could provide your accounting services to a web designer who agrees to setup and maintain your website.
Check to see if suppliers offer discounts for early payment. If not, pay them as late as possible without incurring a late fee to keep your money in your account as long as possible. Seek three bids on purchases, even small ones, to be sure you are getting the lowest price. Even small office purchases can lead to big expenses. Use recycled printer cartridges or print your own forms. If you need a floor mat under your desk chair, simply purchase sheet plastic from a supplier, like Plastics For Industry Pty Ltd, as this is less expensive than pre-made floor mats from an office supply store.
Manage Your Time
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they run a home business is blurring the line between work and home. Schedule set work hours whenever possible. For example, if it is easier for you to work from 10 AM to 3 PM when the children are at school, make those your set work hours. Be at your desk at 10 AM and, at 3 PM, shut everything down and leave work for the next day. At the end of the day, write down a to-do list of what you want to accomplish the next day. Prioritize all tasks by asking yourself:
- Is this task critical to my business?
- Is this task going to increase my income or get me more customers?
- Is this task helping to achieve my goals?
- Could someone else handle this task?
If your answer was no to any of those questions, make that task a lower priority or assign it to someone else. If you are finding yourself getting behind on a regular basis, keep a log of what you do each day for one week. At the end of the week, sit down and evaluate where you are wasting time and how you could adjust to accomplish more.
Another mistake that home-based business owners make is to use their entire house as their “office.” If your dining room table is your desk, requiring you to clear it every night for dinner, you are probably having difficulty creating set work hours. An office does not need to be an entire room. You can create an office space in a corner, such as the corner of your family room or your bedroom.
Put a small table or desk in the space you want to use, add a few baskets or shelves and a comfortable chair. Explain to family that when you are at your “desk,” you are working and should not be interrupted. If your home-based business requires inventory, store it in just one location in your home or garage to avoid “home inventory takeover” throughout your house.
These are just a few tips that can help you keep your home-based business on track and could help you grow your business more quickly.