Admit it — you’ve often considered creating your own small business after spending day after day inside a tight-packed cubicle under fluorescent lights or watching hours and hours of daytime television after the kids have gone off to school. Or, you might have always had the entrepreneurial spirit and are looking for just the right need for the right customer base. Or, maybe you’ve always dreamt of rolling out of bed in the mornings, grabbing a cup of coffee, opening your laptop on the dining room table, and starting work.
So what’s stopping you?
More than likely, it’s the fear of failure and the reality of what it takes to start and run a small business from home. That’s perfectly normal. However, don’t let that fear stand between you and your dreams. Here are a few ways to get started.
Start with a Side Gig
While it’s tempting to just walk out of your job one day and start your own business the next, it’s definitely not a good idea. Realistically, you should work your way into your own small business by starting with a side gig, where you use your skills (or even a hobby) for projects outside of your normal working hours. Sometimes, the side gig might not even related to something you already do to make a living.
One side gig to consider, especially if you’re a stay-at-home parent or even recently unemployed, is pet sitting, where you provide basic pet care services such as walking, playing, feeding, and giving medication for pet owners who are gone for most of the day. You can set your own schedule, prices, and decide which types of pets you work with.
You can’t just sit behind your laptop and wait for business to come to you. You need to build a network and develop connections. These connections can come from many places: professional organizations, your place of worship, monthly chamber of commerce meetings, social media, or even other co-workers who are also working a side gig and need others to join their teams. You should also create your own business card and even consider having your own website. Potential customers can’t connect with you unless they know who you are and what you do. So, network and make yourself known.
Gather Your Tools
As you develop your home-based small business, you’ll need tools to help you keep track of billable time, organize contacts, develop leads, and manage the business finances. Fortunately, many of these tools are available for free. Plus, there’s always Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. You truly don’t need to spend a lot of money on essential software to start and maintain your business.
However, there are two essential items you’ll need to pay for as your business takes off and thrives: an accountant and a lawyer to guide you through all the financial and tax issues, as well as any contracts. Find ones that specialize in small, home-based businesses.
Even if you start your business as a side gig, be sure you keep enough work in the pipeline for yourself that once an assignment stops, you’re not spending a lot of time hunting down another. If you spend all your time looking for business, you’re not making money. Some consultants use the 10 before 10 rule: contact 10 new people each morning before 10 am. Generally, the more people you call, the better you have a chance at securing work.
Consulting can be a highly profitable adventure. Just remember to start small, build a network, get top-notch tools and resources, and keep yourself busy.
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