Your Own Small Business
By Laura Benjamin
you think you want to start your own home-based
business? Do you dream of sitting in front of
your computer in a bathrobe, revel in the idea
of calling your own shots, and laugh out loud
at the morning traffic report?
a business from home is more of an option than ever before.
Massive downsizing, early retirements, and access to technology
have fuelled a trend that continues to grow.
how does one begin? There are numerous books that outline
the practical issues of starting and running a business,
which include whether to incorporate or work as a sole-proprietor,
what equipment to purchase and the pros and cons of hiring
is all valuable information, but what about the other issues?
You know, the things nobody tells you in advance - the things
you learn only through experience, including:
3 a.m. and you can't sleep. Your expenses are high, accounts-receivables
are low, the computer just crashed and your teenager needs
braces. Cash flow is always a juggling act. You never know
when you'll get sick in the midst of a critical project,
or discover your invoice was lost on someone's desk and
payment won't happen for yet another two weeks. This is
the way it is!
used to experiencing gut-wrenching fear. If you allow yourself
to be paralyzed by it, you won't see the resources or options
at your disposal. (It's hard to be resourceful when you're
curled up in a fetal position!) Admit it's there, identify
why, ask yourself what's the worst that can happen; then
brainstorm solutions. Fear can be a powerful catalyst on
the road to new discoveries.
myth of being an "expert."
because you haven't worked in a particular industry or career
field for 25-plus years doesn't mean you haven't accumulated
knowledge others would find valuable. Don't fall into the
trap of thinking you have to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning
"expert" to grow a successful business. There
will always be those who know more than you, but there are
also a significant number who don't and are willing to pay
you to help them learn.
time to inventory your talents, skills, and knowledge. Make
a master list of what you've learned and accomplished over
the years, then categorize them into functions. Just this
process alone will give your self-confidence a boost.
to succeed - no matter what.
the battle of making a business work is the determination
to hang in there, no matter what! Many of those who fail
give up before they've really given themselves a fair chance
to succeed. It's a different mindset than thinking, "Well,
I'll give it a try, and if it doesn't work I can always
go back to a regular job." It's not always fun, it's
definitely not easy, and it takes grit and persistence to
stay with it for the long haul.
benchmarks for yourself along the way to provide inspiration
and motivation to continue, and as a way to look back and
take pride in your accomplishments. They could be chronological,
financial, or other goals, like professional recognition,
a patent or expanding your business into another state or
country. Celebrate your successes by issuing a press release,
hosting an open house, or giving yourself a promotion!
how to fire a client.
room for the right work to come into your business. There's
an interesting dynamic at play here. If you are so busy
handling clients who are low-paying or troublesome, you
won't recognize the right work when it does come your way.
It's similar to the trapeze artist who learns to let go
of the bar and hangs briefly in mid-air before grasping
hold of the one that swings to meet him.
annually, take a hard look at what you're doing, for whom,
and for how much. Be willing to decline the work or refer
it elsewhere. It's a leap of faith, but a necessary one
if you plan to grow and develop.
underestimate the power of "word
are going to hire you because someone recommended you, they
know you, like you and trust you. Cold calls work if you
don't mind playing the numbers, but it's a brutal way to
build a business. Instead, spend your time and energy cultivating
long-term relationships with no expectations of WIIFM (What's
in it for me?). Be a resource for others with a generosity
of spirit and an "abundance" mindset. Offer free
information, support or advice when asked. Focus more on
how you can be of service to them.
no such thing as balance.
won't ever have enough time, money, or energy to do it all.
As with anything, it's a minute-by-minute choice of how
best to allocate your resources. Working from home allows
you the freedom to "blend" and overlap tasks vs.
compartmentalizing work and family. But it also offers distractions
that sometimes make it difficult to draw boundaries. A private
workspace, flexible schedule, and allowing yourself the
"luxury" of time off from time to time will help
balance the scale.
of the biggest benefits of overlapping work and home is
the ability to model a self-sufficient lifestyle for your
children. They see firsthand how to drum up work, troubleshoot
equipment problems and deal with the disappointment of losing
an important piece of business. They learn what it's like
to be resilient, resourceful and self-reliant through the
best and worst of times.
and running a business from home can be the best of all
worlds. It opens up a new way of living, working and thinking
that transcends job descriptions, performance reviews and
benefit programs. You gain flexibility, independence, a
wide range of experiences, and become keenly aware of how
short the distance is between choices you make today and
income you earn tomorrow. For those who do more than just
dream about it, nothing compares to owning your own business
for sharpening your creativity, determination, decision-making
skills, humility and confidence!
Benjamin speaks, writes, and consults
internationally on Human Relations and
Business Development issues. She is a
BBB member and 2001 President of the Colorado
Springs Society for Human Resource Management.
Her clients include FrontRange Solutions,
the United States Army, and the United
States Olympic Committee. To subscribe
to her free email newsletter, visit her
website at www.laurabenjamin.com
or call 719-266-8088.
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