Home offices used to be an anomaly. Today, they are quite common. Constant development in tech and the digital economy has created many remote jobs. Professionals can work online, full-time or part-time, from any location.
What was once a home study has now developed into a functional office. Working from home makes sense: low expenses, no commuting, no dress code and in many cases, flexible working hours.
Many startup businesses have discovered the perfect HQ location within the comfort of their founder’s home. But, it’s not something you can do in one click. Launching a startup from your home office is a step-by-step process.
Let’s walk through the basics. Learn about each step you have to take, and don’t any shortcuts, because that can make or break your business.
To understand your business, know your clients
What sort of startup are you launching? Are you leading a team of app developers, producing a new gadget, or offering creative services? More importantly, who are your clients?
Knowing your clients base is crucial. It defines the nature of your startup as much as the type of business that you conduct. You need to know who you are addressing.
Find out as much as you can about the type of clients you are targeting. Age, income, location shopping habits, online habits – learn the demographics of your client base. If you are presenting your startup to the wrong people, there’s no way you can become profitable.
One of the best ways to discover the characteristics of your clients is to look at your competition. Those businesses who are closely related to your own.
Who are their clients? They are most likely the same people who would be your clients. Find out what they love about your competitors, and what they wish was better. That way, you can gain a market advantage from the get-go.
Plan out everything. Create a business strategy
Set your goals in advance. Not just your ultimate goal, but smaller ones you need to achieve on your way to your end goal. No startup can reach its maximum right off the bat, which is why a growth plan is necessary.
What should you do on the day of your launch? How does your startup have to look like after a month, or two months in business? To take the pressure off, consider each step an achievement you have to unlock, just like in a video game.
These can be small tasks that have to be completed, or bigger assignments. Each time you ‘unlock’ an achievement, you can move forward. By using this method, your startup will have a stable growth.
Get the right people for the job
Your startup needs a team. You need to get the right people on board. Depending on the size of your office, you could have others working at your side, a remote team, or a combination of both. Either way, you’ll need to recruit team members.
Recruiting can be difficult process. Searching for reliable freelancers who are willing to work in a remote team is a good idea. Most likely, you’ll need developers, but also content writers, marketers, accountants and more.
Luckily, the Internet has made recruiting employees much easier. Sites (and their accompanying apps) like Guru or LinkedIn can help you find the perfect people. Additionally, you can conduct your search on social networks, specialized forums or even larger communities, such as Reddit.
This has to be emphasized: Your screening process has to be thorough. Interview each potential candidate and test their skills. Never hire anyone you can’t completely trust. Your team has to care about your startup as much as you do.
Your home office has to be like a corporate office
Sure, you’ve heard success stories about businesses that were started from someone’s basement or attic. But, that probably won’t work today, especially for startups who face incredible competition.
If you are launching a startup from your home office, it’s a given that your office is fully equipped and functional. That means you have already found the best spot in your home for an office, and it is in use.
It has everything an office needs: gadgets, IT support, a reliable source of energy plenty of light. Can it host more people than just you?
Even if it is a small space, big enough for you and maybe one or two associates, it still has to function like a corporate office. No distractions from the rest of your home! Yes, a home office is a more relaxed setting, but it has to be productive.
Apart from typical business tasks, you still have to manage the appearance of your office. Don’t allow clutter to dominate your work space. Clean up, do regular maintenance, make sure everything is tidy.
Make sure you have the right apps and software
We’re talking about software solutions and apps. These days, you can find an app for any task. Those team members we were talking about earlier? Some of them can be replaced by apps. Additionally, you can also find an app that can help you manage a remote team.
Accounting? There’s an app for that. It’s up to you and your budget to decide whether you need an app, or a hired professional. But, there is much more that you can do with the help of apps.
Talk to your team with an app like Slack or Trello, share and save files with an app like Dropbox. You can manage your social media accounts with HootSuite, and handle electronic documents with PandaDoc.
But, don’t overuse them. Get the ones that you think are necessary, based on the features of your startup.
Build a landing page for your startup
Every business – even freelancer working solo – needs a landing page. It’s your online starting point. And it has to be designed in a way that will hook first-time visitors into staying on your page and learning more about your startup.
Remember, when browsing online, people have a very short attention span of only ten seconds or so. That’s the time you have to showcase what your startup is about. Your landing page has to explain everything instantly, but also look professional.
There are many ready-made web design services that offer great landing pages. If that’s your industry, you can design one yourself. Or, if your budget allows, hire skilled web designers to deliver what you need.
Present your business in a couple of words and pin that to the top of your page. Use keywords you want associated with your startup. Make sure your contact options are clearly visible to visitors. Everything has to be one click away: blog, more info, your about section and social media pages. Keep it simple and functional.
Maximize social media presence for better exposure
How can your potential customers find you if they don’t see you on social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Having a landing page is necessary, but so are social media profiles.
Unlike landing pages, social media profiles need a more personal approach. This is where you need to showcase your startup as if it had a personality of its own. Ask yourself: If my startup was a person, what sort of personality would it have?
Based on that, create a ‘voice’ for your startup. A voice you want to be heard across social networks. A personality that will communicate with fans and followers. Interact with your audience, ask for feedback, participate in discussions.
People love feeling as if they are a part of something, and they react to brands that have online personalities. That’s what you need to utilize. Remember – you need to be consistent. Post content on social media based on a previously determined schedule. You have to be in your fans’ newsfeed regularly.
What started as simply working from your home office has grown into a potential startup. You don’t think you have what it takes? Take it one step at a time, as presented here, and you’ll discover that you too can launch a successful startup from your home office.
Josh McAllister is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. Find him on Twitter @josh8mcallister