home business, small business

Are You Ready to be a Small Business Owner?

“Darn….I am fed up with my boss, and there are no jobs in this stagnant economy! I’ve always dreamt of doing something of my own, and maybe that time is now!”

Does this sound like you?

Starting a small business is something that perhaps most of us dream about. After all, what’s not to love about being the boss or not having a 9 to 6 routine.

But, are you really ready to dive in?

home business, small business

Are you ready to become a business owner?

One of my favorite shows on TV is the SharkTank, where small business owners pitch their products/ services/ and new business ideas to established business moguls such as Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban. As per Ivana Taylor, founder of DIYMarketers, the entrepreneurs who appear on the show Shark Tank are perfect examples of entrepreneurs who “are so driven by the need to solve a problem that they devote their life and savings. They can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Starting a small business will require time and energy, and all the positive attitude, and creativity you can muster. The answer as to when is the right time to start a small business, is akin to asking someone, “Whom should I marry?” The decision of when to begin has to be made by you.

However, as with evaluating whether or not you ready for marriage, you have to assess some do’s and don’t before deciding to become an entrepreneur. Before you start your business, spend considerable time scoping the market opportunity, identifying what makes your business idea unique, and whether you have enough savings to support yourself for at least two years without a paycheck.

 

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Answering the following questions will help you to arrive at a decision if ‘now’ is the time to start a small business from home.

1. Are you passionate about what your business idea? At the very least, is the business idea something that you are really interested in starting? Do you believe that this is something you will enjoy or be good at?
2. Do you have the experience, skills, or professional network to succeed in the marketplace? Has your existing profession prepared you for success in the industry you plan to start a business? Have you spent considerable time reading up on the industry and the opportunities it presents?
3. Can you commit the money and time needed for the venture? Do you have access to the funds to get started? ( e.g. for procuring the raw material, manufacturing the product through an off-site business partner, or maintaining a minimum level of inventory to start with).
4. What customer problem are you going to solve? Or how will you be different from the competition? You don’t necessarily have to start something groundbreaking, but you do need to offer a real value for your customers, be it pricing, quality, or overall customer experience.
5. Have you tested your business idea, product or service? For instance, you could have helped a friend with a business problem and discovered that you have a marketable skill. Maybe you designed something that your friends appreciated. If you aren’t convinced, it may be a good idea to hold your day job as you launch your business on a small scale to test the waters.
6. Have you done your preliminary research on demand ( especially local demand if you plan to sell a product), customer needs, suppliers, pricing, and local competition/ business trends?
7. How good are you at taking decisions alone? Because you will most likely be working alone in the initial phase you must be decisive on what you need to focus on at any point in time.
8. Do you have the ability to persuade people? For instance, your skills of persuasion will come in handy when negotiating the price with a customer, or cost with a supplier. You may need to persuade an old friend to work with you on the project.
9. Do you enjoy multitasking and working towards goals? As the sole business owner, you must be a highly organized person to ensure that you focus on every aspect of your business.
10. Are you comfortable working in an unstructured environment, where every day will present its unique set of challenges? Are you an eager learner and someone who enjoys being out of their comfort zone?

It may not be the best time to give up your steady job and start a small business if you have a new baby in the family or if you have a just bought a home on a mortgage. Don’t start a business because you are fed up with your current company and boss; maybe what you need is a new job. And don’t start a business unless you feel genuinely excited and convinced that you have a viable business idea.

 

small business start up

There may never be a perfect time to start your business.

On the other hand, as you contemplate starting a small business, there will always be ‘ifs and buts’. The competition will always seem tough, and despite all the market research, there are no guarantees of success. If you are looking for the perfect time and opportunity to start your small business from home, you will be left waiting and wanting.

Starting your small business could be the most rewarding venture of your life; but before you make a start ensure that you have the resources, support, the risk appetite, and the determination to persevere.

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What is Meant by a ‘Small Business from Home’?

The dictionary definition of a home business is a business which is primarily run from home. A small business from home would mean that you are making client calls, meeting business associates, answering emails, monitoring your website, pitching new clients, all of it while working from a room in your house.

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Basics of starting a home business

Your study room, the garage or a spare bedroom could well be your small business office space. Before you decide that starting your small business from home is the best option for you, you must assess a few critical things.  These are –

1.Is it legal to work from home in your area of residence? Check with your local homeowner association on what commercial activities may be operated from home. While some housing societies may have a strict rule forbidding owners from operating any type of business from their home or the garage, others may allow the running of small businesses.

2. How convenient would it be to operate from home? In the suburbs where the houses have large areas like a garden or an independent garage, the comings and goings of your business associates/ clients are unlikely to disturb the neighbours. If you work as an income tax consultant, you will certainly need a room with an independence entrance so that your clients can meet you without feeling that they are infringing on your family’s home. If you plan to operate as a freelance graphic designer, most of your client meetings will take place at the client’s site, which means you don’t need a dedicated room for your business at home; a small dedicated area to place your computer and printer would suffice.

3. Would you be able to project a professional image? If your small business idea involves meeting customers at your place of office, ensure that the room is well-lit, airy, and looks clean and professional. At the very least give your new office a paint job and arrange for necessary office infrastructure ( table, chairs, an internet connection, seating space etc.).

There are a few other things you can do to let people know you are serious about your home-based small business –

  • Have a dedicated phone number for business calls.
  • Use professional looking business stationery, including business cards, letterheads, business envelopes and invoice book. You can easily design and order these via online sites such as Vistaprint.
  • If you don’t have access to an independent room at home, you can always arrange meetings at an off-site location.
  • Using a co-working space a few days a week may be a good idea if you have young children at home. Booking a day office is ideal for brainstorming with your business partners, conducting meetings with your suppliers and important customers, or for networking with other business owners using the co-working space.
  • While you may be working round the clock trying to turn your business idea into a reality, set regular business hours for your customers.
  • Be professional in your email communications; follow these 12 email etiquettes

The journey of starting your small business from home is not going to be an easy one. For the small business owner, the stakes are always high especially when you are the primary bread- earner of the family, or if you plan to dig into your savings to fund the venture. If you are lucky, your business will break even in the first year. The transition to business ownership, therefore, must be made with a clear understanding of what your business stands for, who are your customers, how you will sell, and how will you ultimately make a profit.

Deepali

‘Small Business from Home’ Owner Deepali Dobhal launched her brand Indy Hue (an Indo-Western designer brand for women) a year and a half ago. She says, ” Finding time for my business, as I juggle home and kids, has been one of my main challenges”

#SmallBusiness; #SmallBusinessIdeas, #StartUps, #IndyHue; #HappyWomensDay

‘Home’ image source

10 Tips For Publishing Your First eBook on Amazon Kindle

I published my first eBook in April this year. Getting it from the ideation to publishing stage, was a superb learning experience. Publishing the eBook on Amazon Kindle taught me so much about the eBook publishing business, and (unexpectedly) made me a more confident writer.

stacked books with a tablet on top

Tips on Publishing on Amazon Kindle

Here’s what I learnt from writing and publishing my first eBook on Amazon Kindle. I hope you will take away something from my experience.

1. Choosing the topic

The topic of your eBook will depend on your motive for writing it. Do you want to write an eBook because you want to make money or do you want to share your knowledge? Ideally, the aim is to do both.

When I began researching my eBook topic, I realised that I should write about what people are looking for online and that I should write in a niche that does not have much existing material.

My eBook called ‘ Guide to Becoming a Freelance Writer-  How to Use Freelancing Websites to Source Content Writing Jobs and Make Money from Home‘  is on a topic that did not have many online searches in the Indian market. But it is my understanding that more and more Indians are looking for a work from home option, especially young mothers and able retirees, and I felt that my eBook will certainly help this section of people outsource their talent.

Also, when I looked online, there were plenty of native English writers who had written eBooks on freelancing websites, but very few well written consolidated guides existed from an Indian writers perspective.

2. Incorporate keywords

Having decided what topic you want to write on, search for keywords ( or phrases that people looking for that information may be using on search engines). Use these keywords in your eBook title, table of contents, subheadings within the eBook, and all through the content.  Also, ensure that your ebook description carries the right keywords.

3. Platform for publishing eBook

After a lot of research, I found out that Amazon Kindle was the simpler platform to use compared to Google Play, so I opted to use Kindle as the publishing route. And having gone through the different stages of publishing and eBook promotion on Kindle, I would recommend it to any first-time self-publisher.

4. Hire a professional for the cover design

People judge a book by the cover, and especially an eBook. I hired American graphic designer Christopher Trimble, who for a very affordable price gave me three to four cover design options. Once the design was finalised he also gave me free bonus images for promoting the eBook on social media. I will certainly use his design services again and recommend him to anyone looking for a professional graphic designer.

5. Formatting your eBook for Amazon Kindle

Ensure that the word document is ready to upload to Kindle. For instance, all images must be in the JPEG format.  Also, it’s advisable to compress the pictures to web resolution once pasted to reduce the digital size of your eBook.  You have to insert a ‘Bookmark’ that allows your readers to move up to the table of contents from anywhere in the book.

Formatting the eBook is easy. Use this link on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing on how to get your eBook published on this platform for free.

6. Write a book description that sells your eBook

Write an eBook description that immediately tells a prospective reader what it is about and why they should download/ buy it. Include an author bio to sell your credibility as the author. Let readers know why they should take the time to read your eBook.

You don’t have to be a roaring financial success for people to buy your eBook. The fact that you have gone through something similar, or made big mistakes and learnt from them, can be motivation enough for someone to download the eBook.

Think about it – if you have lost a job or gone through a bitter divorce and come out of that experience stronger, isn’t that something worth sharing? In my case, it was the transition from a banker to a freelance writer that I knew would resonate with others looking to make a career change.

7. Include a professional author photo

If it’s a self-help book, ensure that the author photo you upload to Amazon Kindle exudes confidence and professionalism.

8. Final editorial check before uploading

Before you upload your eBook on Amazon Kindle, read the document on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet; this help you spot grammatical and typographical errors. Also, use tools such Grammarly and HemingwayApp to improve the ease of reading of the content.

9. Copyrights and Feedback Page

Place a Copyright page before the table of content stating the explicit ownership of all content. There are various formats in use; formats for eBooks by US authors tend to be a lot more elaborate. I found this basic version apt for my requirement.

Copyright © 2016 by Rhea Gaur

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced, or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

First Printing, 2016

For further information, contact

www.ladybirdink.net 

At the end of the eBook, encourage readers to leave feedback on Amazon Kindle. Also, include your website address so that they can contact you for more information.

10. Social media promotion

Social media promotion requires regular and targeted efforts.  You need to have enough content ( both type of content and volume of content) to create an online buzz, as well as be consistent with the quality of content.

If you have the funds, I suggest you hire a social media manager (SMM) to execute the online promotion strategy for your eBook. If like me you can’t afford an SMM, here are a few tips:

  • Have a social media strategy in place well before the launch date. Experts suggest at 90 to 60 days. But since I didn’t have the time to develop so much content, I started creating teasers only a month prior to the launch date.
  • Customise your existing business page, or create a new social media page, to promote your eBook. Use a social media cover showcasing your eBook.
  • Schedule posts about the eBook – Some posts could focus on why they should buy the eBook, and others can be about the contents of the eBook.
  • Create YouTube Videos – Talk about the chapters of your eBook. Building following on YouTube takes time, so if you can, start filming your videos several months ahead of launch.
  • Become active in social media groups on Facebook and LinkedIn –  Participate in conversations and offer help. Then when the time comes, post updates on your eBook with catchy images, tag lines, and contests.

Publishing an eBook on Amazon Kindle is an excellent calling card letting people know that you are confident about your knowledge in a given field.  Also, as I see it, publishing and selling eBooks on Amazon Kindle becomes easier with each book that you write.

So don’t put off the idea of writing an eBook any further. Start today by listing the table of contents and write the first chapter within the next one week. All the best.

 

 

6 Tips on Launching Your Facebook Business Page

A Facebook business page is an excellent way to reach your existing and potential customers. You can share updates, sell products, and engage with people interested in your brand. If you are just starting out, here are a few tips on creating your Facebook Business Page.

Facebook is for every type of consumer business, regardless of your size and the product/ service you are selling. Business-to-business brands ( B2B) use Facebook as well, but probably not to the same effect as a business that is selling directly to the consumer.

Some Facebook pages seem to catch on like wildfire, especially ones that relate to popular topics like parenting, motherhood, baking and  DIY creative ideas. That’s because almost everyone is a parent at some stage in their life, and most of us want to learn new ways to cook food quickly.

If your product/ service does not fall in one of these traditional categories, don’t worry. Your Facebook page can still attract the intended audience.

When I started my Facebook page, I did not have a strategy. And I still don’t make a concerted effort to increase the number of followers. But if I have certainly learnt over the last one year, what works and what does not while maintaining a Facebook business page.

So here are my basic tips on creating your Facebook Business Page (FBP).

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1. Personalise your profile picture:  For a long time, I used my business logo as the profile picture on my FBP. Then one day, I took a still from a YouTube video I had created and posted that as the profile pic and voila!  All of a sudden, I saw a surge in the number of people outside my social network who became followers.

2. Hire someone to create a Facebook cover photo: The Facebook cover photo for a business page should look professional. You could try creating one with the help of free cover- image creation sites such as Canva, but I think it’s a much better idea to hire a graphic designer on Fiverr or on Upwork to create a few images that are the right resolution and format for Facebook.

3. Post and schedule updates before you invite people to like your page: I have seen friends start their FBP and immediately invite people within their network to like the page. Stop! Even though I am a friend, I will choose what information I want to be fed. So if I don’t see a clear ‘About Us’ description or a few Facebook posts to get an idea about the type of content you will be sharing, I am not going to like that page. Also, to ensure that you keep the momentum going, schedule posts on FB. You can choose the date and time of publishing.

4. Add an action button:   The action button is one of the business promotion tools available on your FBP. You could encourage users to ‘visit your website, watch a video, shop now, call now, contact us, play a game, sign up, request an appointment, or send an email.’

5. Videos perform better than text posts:  Create a few videos about your business, on information that’s of interest your 1, or your promotional offers. In my experience, video posts perform far better than text posts when you want to share something important with your followers.

6. Customise and personalise posts: Your FBP page is about you, but the content has to be tailored to the viewing interests of your target audience.  So don’t feed them content only because you liked reading or watching something. Personalise your posts to the extent possible to make your followers feel that it’s an individual ( with a personality) who is creating the posts and whom they can relate to that’s creating the post, and not someone sitting behind a business desk.

Your popular posts can also be converted to Facebook Ads. You get to choose how many days you want to run the campaign and how much money you want to spend. The exciting part here is that you get to test the demographics of the people you think may be interested in your content. Facebook gives your options of city, age, postcode, interests and gender to target ads.

Have you created your Facebook Business Page yet? If not, you could be missing out . Contact me for a free consult on your Facebook Business Page.