How to Launch a Startup From Your Home Office

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.

Startup at Home

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.

Ready? Go!

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.

Author byline:

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

8 Simple Motivational Tips to Get Ahead in Business

When I started my first online business – self motivation was a bit of a problem. I hadn’t been someone who’d had problems meeting deadlines or getting work done in previous jobs when I was working for someone else – but with no clear deadlines in place for a lot of what I was going to do – it became harder. Self-motivation is one of the hardest things to master when it comes to setting up your own business – but if done right, it could help you take a step up to the next level.

If you’re looking to get motivated so you can make your business-life a success, hopefully these 8 simple tips will help you like they did me.

1. Do the hardest task first

A lot of people start small to build up momentum. While this can work, I found that I was often really just putting off the hardest, most important tasks. Do them first, then they won’t play on your mind for the rest of the week, and your other (easier) tasks should fall into place.

2. Find a dedicated workspace

It’s all very well working from home – but try not to work in front of the TV or in a room you use for loads of other things. That’s an in-built distraction factory you could do without. I actually started renting a little remote office-space in my local area. I didn’t use it all the time – but when I knew I needed to completely cut out distractions I’d work from there. It made it feel like I was going to work again, which I think gave me the will to act a bit more professionally and get more done.

3. Have a clear plan

Plans are important. If you know exactly what you’ve got to do that week – you’ll be able to stick to it much more easily. Don’t simply do tasks as and when they come – not only is it easier to forget things, it’s also easier to ignore important stuff.

Work through your plan in order, even if you don’t really feel like doing one of the tasks when you get to it. Doing it and not putting it off will actually make you feel better and increase confidence, making the next tasks even easier.

4. Take regular breaks

Working solid through the day isn’t a great idea. Give yourself a break to walk around and get a drink. Just make sure the break isn’t something like watching a bit of TV, where a few minutes could turn into a few hours of procrastination. Grabbing a bit of food and a drink is fine, but don’t use your breaks as an excuse to do something major that’s going to take more than 5-10 minutes. When you’ve built up a head of steam in your work, you don’t want to lose that because you’ve been doing something else for too long. But you also don’t want to burn-out through being too overworked.

5. Avoid distractions

This one kind of ties into a couple that we’ve already looked at – but distractions are bad news.

I used to take my laptop to the local coffee store and do some work there. While I thought the change of environment and extra caffeine was helping me – I was wrong. There was always something going on, something to look at, and something to interact with – and plenty of noise, too. Coffee shops might be fine when you’ve got a few light and easy tasks – but not if you’ve got serious work that needs doing. Leave them as a treat towards the end of the working week when you tie up some loose ends, rather than a regular thing.

If you’ve got a roommate – make sure they know when you’re working so they don’t disturb you. Switch the TV off, and avoid social media. If you use it for work, fine, but there’s a fine-line between productive social media marketing and an excuse to procrastinate. Don’t log-in to your personal accounts.

6. Hold yourself accountable

Tell people what you’re going to do so that they’ll hold you to it. Since you don’t have a boss – give yourself other people to make you accountable to.

7. Listen to music at the right time

You probably don’t want to be listening to music if you’ve got something important to think about. But if you’re on to your easier tasks and what to lighten the mood and give yourself a change of pace – some music could do the job. But don’t let the music become a distraction.

8. Meditate before you get started

5-10 minutes of light meditation at the beginning of the day really helped clear my mind from distractions and get me in a relaxed mood for working. I was no meditation expert – I just looked up a couple of newbie guides online – but it helped get my head in the right space for work and it’s something I continue to use regularly. Give it a try for a week or two, even if it’s not something you’d normally go in for.

 

About the author

These tips were by Keith Elton. Keith has years of experience in the business world and enjoys sharing his motivation tips with those new to the industry. He also recommends looking up some motivational quotes online if you’re looking for even more inspiration.

What Professionals Working Remotely Need to Know About Marketing

Self-employed workers and freelancers have long enjoyed the affordability and convenience of remote work. To begin with, they reclaim the hours that they would otherwise daily spend commuting to and from a corporate office. As a result, they have more time to spend with their family and friends and enjoy a healthy work-life balance. Now, professionals who work for companies or corporations increasingly also can work from home and enjoy a healthier work-life balance.

Meanwhile, clients and employers increasingly embrace remote workers as a way to cut costs. For example, companies that utilize remote workers require less office space and, therefore, can reduce their rent, insurance and energy expenses. Additionally, clients and employers can access talent from practically anywhere in the world. Furthermore, home-based workers offer high levels of productivity and efficiency.

As a professional, your opportunity for working from home has no limits. Thanks to technology, you can collaborate and communicate with people and work with teams regardless of their location. You must, however, have a productive office environment to work in as well along with a well-defined and promoted personal brand. Here, you will learn about the important considerations you must make and activities you should engage in to build a successful career as a home-based professional.

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1) Build A Landing Page

Like any business, you can use the internet to promote yourself so that the companies and clients that need your services can find you. By creating and publishing a simple, easy-to-navigate landing page, you can showcase your experience and talents. In many ways, your landing page should function as a business card and as a place where clients can schedule and pay online for your services.

Important elements of your landing page include the title, primary tagline and description. You should also carefully choose your keywords and tags. Of course, the main content of your page should concisely introduce you and explain why businesses should choose to use your services.

2) Pick Your Apps and Online Services

Place a high priority on choosing the applications and services that best support your business. As you search the internet, you will find myriad options that seem attractive, but you should resist the temptation to try to use too many applications and tools because they can become a distraction. Use customer reviews and free trial periods to narrow your selection and only choose the ones that contribute to your productivity and efficiency.

Tools and services for task management, web page creation and SEO, project management and accounting are categories of apps and services that almost every home-based professional will need. Additionally, you might need to look for tools and services that support the creation of documentation as well as those that facilitate copyrights and trademarks.

3) Be Serious About Your Social Media Game.

Social networks continue to attract millions of users, making it the perfect place to promote your professional services. Furthermore, you can use social media to connect with other professionals, influencers and vendors who can contribute to your business. Still, social media can become a liability if you fail to properly manage it. For example, if you never engage users, you might damage your reputation just as severely as you would if you communicated with the wrong vocabulary or attitude.

Although you might feel tempted to open accounts on every popular social network, you should focus your efforts on only one or two of them so you can minimize the drain on your time and avoid management complications. Also, place social media tools on your landing page so that your website visitors can easily follow you as well as “like” and share your content. Additionally, you should always respond to comments and questions left for you on social media and consider using social media to post articles and display your work.

4) Create A Productive Home Office

As has been noted, your home office should rank near the top of your priorities. For the most part, alternative arrangements such as working on your bed or at the kitchen table will not allow you to achieve high levels of productivity. Instead, choose a little-used section of your home and remodel it as your office. Make sure that it has boundaries so family members can avoid encroaching on your space and vice versa.

Your office should have ample lighting and easy access to power outlets. It should also host essential equipment such as a printer, networking and video conferencing gear, a telephone and office supplies. You should also equip your office with an adequate amount of storage space and work surfaces. After all, clutter can lead to wasted time and confusion and destroy your creativity and enthusiasm. Also, you should make sure to do home maintenance tasks, just like you do with the rest of your home.

5) Give Without Asking Anything in Return

Offering value to people with no strings attached can effectively promote your business and build the authority of your brand. To demonstrate your communications skills, you should use social media to converse with users. Similarly, you should share content posted by other users to emphasize your commitment to the community. Furthermore, you can emphasize your expertise by publishing tutorials and holding question-and-answer events.

In many cases giving back to the online community can extend beyond simply sharing information and solving problems. For example, giving away useful freebies that include your contact information can promote your brand and demonstrate your generosity. Organizing contests with meaningful prizes give people an incentive to return to your profile and stay actively engaged. As you give, however, always ask for feedback regarding your ideas, designs and strategies. Such free guidance can become invaluable as you fine-tune your brand and messaging.

BONUS TIP: Use Influencer Outreach

After tending to the basics of building a home office, creating a presence on the web and social media, and interacting with your audience, start connecting with influencers. This group of people might include politicians, professors, celebrities and business icons as well as other popular people. Such people can influence the decisions people make, including choosing to use your professional services.

When you make contact with an influencer, try to make a deal where they give you exposure to their large audience in exchange for reaching yours. For instance, you can offer influencers guest-blogging opportunities on your website and ask them to endorse you as a professional. Every time you get an influential person to recommend you or associate with you, their audience takes note and will naturally turn to you when they need your talent and skills.

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Working at home as a professional helps you benefit from the modern trends in employment. Increasingly, people are working from home and therefore enjoying an improved balance between their work and personal life. By choosing the right apps and services, creating a productive work environment and building a landing page and social media presence, you lay a solid foundation that will help you provide high quality work to a steady stream of clients.

 

Jeff E. Brown Photo
Guest Author, Jeff Brown, is a freelance writer from Oregon with a knack for lifehacking and DIY projects. Based out of his home office where his two dogs keep him company while he types, Jeff loves writing about home improvement topics, teaching others all the tips and tricks he has learned since he moved out of an apartment and into a house. When he’s not writing, he loves organizing barbecue parties in his garden.

Working from Home: Pros and Cons

Making the decision to really give up a high flying job with potential, and give up the 9-to-5 office-based job is a lot harder than you might imagine. Sure, if you guaranteed anyone that it would 100% work, then making the decision would be simple. Most people working in offices want to be elsewhere, let’s face it, and it was the same for me.

So what are the hurdles you have to overcome to make it work? The cons? These can be summed up as:

  • Distractions from your home life – TV, social media, friends, and family
  • Loneliness
  • Distance from colleagues – if you have colleagues
  • Discipline – you need to self-motivate
  • Blurring the line between home life and work life

However, get these things right, and there are many, many pluses to working from home including:

  • Flexibility to design your own schedules
  • Ability to take more time off
  • No commute
  • No micromanaging bosses
  • You can work where you want
  • You can wear what you want

You can read my full article to find out more about my pros and cons of working from home.

Jenny Holt is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and aging, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

Sit At Home Or Sit In The Office? Weighing Up Where To Go For The Benefits Of Your Business

Home working has its positives in many different aspects. If you’re running a business, then It can be argued that there are positives to working in an office environment. When it comes to the employees perspective, working from home can have more positives than working in the office. From a startup point of view does it have any impact on the business? Weigh up the pros and cons between home working and working in an office environment. Which one do you go for? Here we will lay out both aspects and see which works best for your business.

Productivity

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It is far easier to maintain productivity in an office environment because you are closer to your employees. You can make more efficient contact with them, as they are in the vicinity. When it comes to staffing in the workplace, it is easier to exert authority over your staff. But this depends on the environment in which you operate and what kind of boss you are. If you are an employer that likes to rule with an “iron fist”, then working in an office environment will be suitable to your needs.

Working from home from an employee’s perspective has benefits with regards to business cost. From a startup perspective, finances are easier to maintain, but the communication is limited with regards to your staff because they’re not on site. Ultimately, productivity is something that needs to be maintained, and this can be achieved.

So how can this be achieved? There are ways to improve communication with home workers using contemporary technology. For example, the VoIP system Is something that is used in many businesses now. It is a phone system that connects to the Internet.  This saves you money as you don’t need to install a phone line in your office. The benefits of having this system include access to home workers through their cell phones. So, connectivity and communication are at its fullest. However, this does rely on being in an area that has good internet connectivity. If you do not have this, then it can cause issues.

As far as maintaining productivity for your business is concerned, it is something you need to weigh up.

Finances

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As an employer, this needs to be something that is high on your priorities. Having employees work from home is a great way to conserve finances for your business. But, as previously mentioned they are a divide between the employee and employer so this can be an issue concerning business cohesion.

It can be argued that productivity will increase if an office environment is more workable, such as the layout of the office or the morale of the staff. If you are looking to improve the layout of your office, look online at websites like arnoldsofficefurniture.com. But this is something you need to think about and if it has a detrimental effect on your workforce.

Productivity and finances are two sides to the same coin when it comes to business.  Look carefully at which one you need to focus on at this moment in time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Miss Some Home Business Deductions?

travel_blogDo you enjoy all the perks that come with running your own home business?

If so, then you’re one of the millions of people nationwide that call home their workplace.

With all the positives that come from working out of one’s home, there are some perceived negatives too.

Worse yet, missing out on a number of home business deductions when it is time to do your taxes can be frustrating on several levels, most notably your pocketbook.

Know What You Can Deduct

So that you can be sure you have hit all your home business deductions for this tax season, did you include the following?

  • Home office – The notable deduction should be the space set aside in your home for work. While you can’t deduct the entire residence, you can declare the space where your office is (note the approximate square footage). Most people working out of their homes have a small office area set aside for work only, though others will incorporate their work into a portion of a living room, kitchen, bedroom etc.
  • Office supplies – There is little doubt that you will need supplies to run your home business, so always take stock of them when doing your tax prep. From paper for the printer to pens and notepads, those trips to the supply store add up over time. In order to save some money during the year on some purchases, look to buy in bulk. Some dealers will give you a discount when doing just that.
  • Communications – Given you likely talk to clients on a daily or weekly basis, be sure to include charges for your phone and Internet service dedicated to work. If you spend time and money (mileage, gas etc.) traveling to meet with clients, be sure to note such trips. No, you can’t deduct the ice cream cone you may have purchased on the way home from a client meeting, but you can write-off a business lunch etc. In the event you are traveling to conferences and/or networking events to meet with prospective clients, that can also be noted on your tax preparations.

While there are some other tax deductions you can look into, those mentioned above are the main ones to not drop the ball on.

Speaking of taxes, while no one ever wants to get that letter from the IRS, there is always the chance of an audit.

In the event that happens, having a New York tax attorney or one closer to where you reside on your side is a good idea.

With an experienced tax attorney in your corner, you can feel more confident in stating and winning your case.

If by chance you do get audited, be sure that you have all your records in place (you should do this anyhow) so that you can back up what you originally stated on your tax forms.

Another area of importance added to your tax situation over the last few years is health insurance.

Given you are running your own home business; you in all likelihood do not have an employer-sponsored health insurance plan covering you (unless you have an outside FT job and do the home business on the side).

The government now requires that individuals be able to prove they have some form of health insurance covering them. For those individuals who are not covered, they are subject to a fine. That fine has increased rather substantially in the last year, so being covered certainly makes sense in more ways than one.

Running a home business opens myriad of doors for men and women all across America.

Yes, there are issues like not having co-workers around to mingle with, not having an employer paying for your health insurance, and not having someone to handle other H.R. related tasks.

On the flip side, you don’t have someone standing watch over you eight hours a day, your commute is literally from the bedroom to your home office, and you don’t have to deal with the office politics that encompass so many offices on a daily basis.

If you’re running a home business, make sure you get each and every one of those deductions coming to you.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.

 

 

Is It Time to Open a #Home #Business?

homeofficetRunning a business from home can be an extremely rewarding experience.

However, there are numerous challenges you might face while setting up and opening your home business.

With a 9-to-5 home life in mind, here are just a few hurdles you might need to overcome when opening a home business in 2016:

Set up a Suitable Workspace

One of the main challenges of starting a home business is setting up a suitable workspace. Not all home environments promote productivity, which is why it’s so important to take the proper time when arranging your workspace.

Choosing a space that’s separate from other living areas is ideal.

For example, an upstairs spare bedroom or basement space proves both suitable choices. If neither of these is available, make sure the space you choose can at least be closed off from the rest of the house.

In addition, you’ll want to choose a space that is relatively quiet.

A room that’s right next to or shares space with your family room or other communal areas is not ideal.

If you’re unable to find a quiet area for your workspace, consider soundproofing your space with sound deadening panels or use noise-cancelling headphones while you work.

Separate Work and Home Life

Separating your work from your home life is hard enough when you work a regular office job, so you can imagine how difficult it might be separating the two when you work from home.

In the article “Expert Interview Series: Susan Rakowski About Starting a Business from Your Home“, Rakowski describes the importance of separating work and family life.

Fortunately, it’s easier than you might think to accomplish this.

By simply having a discussion with your family members and setting boundaries, you can run a productive home business without affecting your home life and familial relationships.

This may take time, so make sure you’re vocal about your home business with others in your family to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Create a Routine

After you’ve chosen a workspace and discussed your home business goals with your family members, you then need to create a routine. Remember, just because you work from home doesn’t mean you won’t have business hours.

Choosing business hours that take place when your house is empty and quiet is the most effective way to go.

However, if your home is occupied around the clock, make sure you establish “quiet hours” with others in your family.

This should be a designated time where no one bothers you in your home workspace.

Avoid Distractions

No matter how isolated or quiet your workspace is, there will always be distractions in your home. Whether it’s your cable package and your flat screen television, household chores, or snack food in your kitchen, household distractions can ruin your productivity.

That’s why it’s crucial to remove all distractions from your workspace.

If that means removing the television from your home office and getting rid of that junk food in your pantry, then so be it. Fewer distractions will result in a successful home business.

If you’re considering starting a home business, then keep in mind some of the pointers mentioned above.

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including home businesses and workplace productivity.