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

Simple Tips for Handling a Business Expansion

Running a small business is nice, but there comes a time when every business owner wants to expand their business into something bigger and better. However, there are certain pitfalls that make it really difficult for businesses to handle their growth, especially if the growth is a rapid one. With bigger business come bigger responsibilities, and your ability to delegate them properly to competent managers. This is why it’s important to have a strong plan in place before even thinking about business expansion, and this guide will help you find out some of the best tips you can apply to your business in order to grow it successfully.

Focus on the Customers

One of the most important things when it comes to expanding a business is to understand and keep up with current market trends. If you fail to satisfy some of the basic customer demands you will never be able to grow your business beyond a certain point. This is why it’s vital to know as much as possible about their potential demands, as well as what’s trending and what your customers might be after. Whether it’s great customer service or a competitive product that can match any other out there, you need to know what to focus on.

Plan Your Marketing Campaign in Advance

No small business has ever expanded into a large one without investing heavily in advertising their brand. However, many business owners make a mistake and don’t actually factor in how the marketing itself needs to change once you start expanding, which can lead to a total crackdown of your expansion efforts. This is why it’s important to plan your marketing campaign in advance and try to cover all stages of expansion and how your campaign is going to adapt to meet the demands of an expanding business.

Running a business today means being online, which further means that investing in SEO is clearly something you should consider if you’re planning to expand. More traffic means more conversions, which will not only increase your revenue – but also boost your reputation as a brand.

Identify New Groups of Consumers

Expansion basically means moving past your existing customer base and thinking about how to attract new customer groups to become loyal to your brand. To do this, you need to diversify your products and/or services to better match the new groups you’ve identified. If you manage to do that, while also retaining your existing customer base, you’ll effectively have multiple income streams which will push your business forward. It’s always best to design new products to match what’s trending right now, so it’s important to constantly analyze the market for opportunities if you’re to get an edge over your competitors.

Get a Bigger Office

If you’re caught by surprise by your sudden expansion and you’re all of the sudden in a dire need of getting a new office, you might lose valuable time and money at a point in time when you need to be focused on the expansion. That’s why it’s crucial for you to identify when the expansion is going to happen and expand your workspace beforehand. While you might love your small, sturdy office, it’s no place to be once you start growing. Companies like Pinkjunk Rubbish & Junk Removal Company, 1800 Got Junk, Junk King, and numerous others, can get rid of the extra stuff you no longer need and save you a ton of time when moving an office.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Social media is a powerful marketing tool today, one that’s also the best marketing platform for many consumer groups out there. Be super-active on social media channels that best fit your industry. So if you’re in the business of interior design – Pinterest and Instagram might be your best bet. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to social media promotions, so pay attention.

  • Always Reply to Comments – There’s nothing users hate more than their comment staying unnoticed, so have someone vigorously answer everything that needs answering on your channels.
  • Deal with Negative Feedback in Private – If a customer had a bad experience with your service or a product, the last thing you want is to start a discussion for all the public to see. It’s bad for business, so always try to contact the user privately and settle things over there.
  • Fresh Content – Try to actively post fresh content, as that’s one of the best ways to get you traffic and conversions, as well as affect your SEO efforts.

Conclusion

Many businesses in the past decade failed for the sole reason of being unprepared for their expansion. Every small business owner wants their business to expand, so the more you’re ready for it – the better chances you’ll have to stay ahead of the game. By following these tips you’ll have a greater understanding of what awaits you and how to tackle it if you wish to successfully grow your business.

Guest author, Chloe Smith, is a cycling enthusiast, business consultant, and a part-time writer always willing to share tidbits of advice. She believes that passion, courage and, above all, knowledge breed success.

Give Your Small Business A Professional Makeover

As the owner of a small business; you’ll already be aware of how tough the competition is out there. To succeed as a company in today’s market; you’ll need to be a more appealing option than your competitors, for your potential consumers and clients. If you’re struggling to progress, grow, and keep the momentum high of customer traffic; it might be time for a business makeover. Putting your efforts into a fresh start, while sticking to your brand identity and online presence, will give you and your company the boost it needs.

Consumers will always take note of what, and who, is new on the scene, and are always investigating into the latest places to invest their money, especially if they’ve been let down by another brand. Therefore, you can make the most of your current customer base and following, and push your business forward with a relaunch and new outlook. The following are some areas to consider, tips, and ideas for those who need a helping hand with their company’s makeover, to boost their sales.

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Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/arrangement-bloom-blossom-bouquet-395132/

A Look At Your Branding

 It’s worth thinking about your brand, logo, and the aesthetic of your business’s identity. If you’re not a whizz when it comes to graphic design and tying a company together with colors, shapes, and images; you might want to do your research online, and also employ the help of a designer. Take a look at sites like fast.company to discover the main principles of great branding and design; you can begin thinking about how these might apply to your business.

Check out what your competitors have done, and how it works for them; it’s not about copying others, but you can boost your ideas and thought process regarding what you want to achieve. You’ll need branding that can work across all your online platforms, from your website to your social media; you’ll also want something that looks great in print so that you can hand business cards out with pride. A rebrand and relaunch will give your business something to shout about, and there’ll be an instant boost in your customer traffic and sales.

The Professional Touches

As a small business; you probably won’t have access to all the very latest in technology and services that a bigger company may have. This doesn’t mean that you can’t give your customers plenty of professionalism, and utilize what’s on the market for your size of brand. Take a look at sites like merchants.services and decide on which merchant service is the right one for you; allowing customers to pay by card at checkout, both in person and online, will be an appealing attribute to your business. If you utilize trade fairs, markets, and events where you sell your wares or services; you’ll need the ability to let consumers pay with their card, so they don’t go elsewhere due to lack of cash.

Keep a supply of business cards or flyers on you at all times; nothing says “serious business person” more than the ability to provide your contact details at a moment’s notice. Let your followers know about all your changes, and build excitement about your business and its fresh start, for plenty of future growth and success.

Improve Your Work Habits With These Tips

The workplace seems like the last place where you’d expect to find any form of habitual behavior. However, just like in our personal lives, they vary, and transcend the mere basics like washing your mug every day, reviewing the morning paperwork, or keeping your productivity up for eight hours.  Work habits range from politeness and socialization, to staying focused on a single task. And to ensure the best results, here are our tips on how to improve your work habits. Acquiring work habits can be difficult, as they didn’t have a lifetime to become automated in our daily lives. That is why we offer five simple tips that might help you out.

Small beginnings

No matter what you choose as a habit to build, you need to start small. A lot of your current habits took years to turn into a kind of automatic behavior, with most of them hardwired into your brain without you even remembering how it happened. So in order to put new habits into place with active effort, you will have to start small. For example, if you want to stay more focused on a single task, try focusing on it for five minutes. Then, after a week (or when you feel you can), extend that time to ten minutes.

Merge the habits

Say that the new habit you want to put in place is to keep a cleaner desk. You want to stop seeing piled up papers and wrappers at the end of the day. What you can do is to use every bathroom break to pick up the scraps of trash and toss them on your way there. If you want to be more sociable with coworkers, use every water break, or visit to the copier to stop and exchange a few words with someone. Tying a new habit to one of your old ones can help maintain the cycle of its occurrence.

Accountability

This goes for all those who feel like procrastination and difficulty focusing are habits that are hard to break. What you need is a sense of accountability for your work. Far-reaching deadlines are hardly going to keep you motivated on a daily basis. If possible, find a person: a colleague, or your team manager, to whom you will deliver daily reports. Knowing that your work performance depends on that end-of the day report will boost your focus. Also, keeping a to-do list, or a specific but simple checklist can go a long way. If possible, talk to the person reviewing your reports on a daily or a weekly basis, to see how well you are doing.

Organization

Organization has to be one of the most common ailments of the modern worker. From their desks and cubicles, to their offices, people tend to pile up things they don’t need. Old projects bulletin boards that they’re too busy to take down, broken down printers or piles upon piles of archives that are not a necessity right now. The habit of keeping your space clean starts with cleaning it out completely. If you have a problem giving up certain things that may be of use later, you can always look for some supercheap storage. Geelong, for example, has numerous storage offers where you can store whatever you feel could be necessary, without cluttering up your space.

Use a reward system

Lastly, employ any kind of a reward system. To truly motivate yourself, you need to know that after those ten minutes of hard focus, you will have five minutes of distractions. Or, after drinking the required goal amount of water for the day, you can treat yourself with something sweet, and so on. This part is crucial for the creation of a habit, as it hardwires your brain into linking the new behavior with some kind of gratification afterwards. Since no one gives pats on the back for achieving these small goals, a self-reward system is a perfect replacement for a positive affirmation.

Lastly

The best possible way to observe and approach habits is to see it as a kind of behavior that needs practice. It is not about a person’s laziness or inability to perform or follow through with a habit. It all comes down to how the human brain works. Most people won’t form a new habit of working 30 minutes with an unrelenting focus from day one. It takes practice and reward. Get your colleagues in on the “project” and you’ll see how fast the habit sticks.

3 Critical Things Your Startup Business Needs!

Startup businesses are a risky thing to own as it’s the phase in a business’s life where it’s most likely to fail! The key to avoiding failure is to be properly prepared because startup businesses face many perils that can finish them without a seconds notice, so we have to get ready for these things and avoids the pitfalls that await us, but what can we do to avoid these failures from happening? Well, if you read on, you’ll find out!

Hire Website Developers

Your website is your businesses face to the world, it’s where people come to your business in order to use your services so it has to be a good one! The problem with most startup businesses is that they don’t have a proper website; they have one that the owner has made themselves, and this just isn’t going to cut it if you’ve not got professional skills! If your website is poor, it’s going to put people off your company, so how do we get around this issue? Well, it’s simple; you get professional skills in! By hiring website developers, you can be safe in the knowledge that your website is going to be unique and easy to use, so you can captivate customers and get them to buy your services.

Target Only Your Demographic

Most big businesses will only advertise to their target demographic and no one else, why? Because if you’re advertising to people who aren’t your target demographic, you’re simply not going to get anywhere with them! You need to know what the best ways are to reach out to your audience, because that’s the way that good advertising is done. Take a seat and think about who you’re mainly going to be selling to, and then base your advertisements off that. If you put your adverts in the wrong place then you’re going to be paying for nothing, so think first before you start putting out wide adverts.

Getting A Business Loan

When people start off a business, they often underestimate the costs of running it and decide to fund it themselves, however this is a mistake that often puts businesses under entirely and is therefore something you want to avoid! Websites like businesslineof.credit offer loans specifically for businesses. They can help you with paying all of the costs that come with having a business as you’re going to make a loss for for the first few years until you start getting cash in, so loans like this help you ease the pain of this by giving you a nice sum of money to sit on!

Keep in mind all of these things if you want your startup to succeed. Hire a website developer to get a professional website that will look good and will be easy to use for customers, make sure you’re advertising in the right place and not wasting your money on reaching out to people who don’t care and make sure you get a business loan to keep your financial needs satisfied! On top of loans, another good way to get funding is through lines of credit which you can read up about here.

4 Smart Strategies to Take Your Small Business to The Next Level

The decision about whether to expand your current business operations in different ways or to maintain the status quo is not an easy one to make. Some business owners may feel comfortable keeping things as they are and not taking unnecessary risks. If you feel that growth and expansion are in order, however, you must then determine if now is the right time to do so. Remember that your business should be well established, and trying to expand too soon can be detrimental and risky.

It is important that you develop a long-term growth strategy before you take any steps forward. Your plans should be scalable, and you should understand the financial impact that your plans will have on your budget and finances. Some people may find that they need to improve in certain areas or seek financing before ramping up production or expanding into a new market.

Remember that growth can often magnify inefficiencies that may not be bothersome or crippling right now. If you are preparing to grow, consider adopting these smart tips to enjoy the best results.

Don’t Be Afraid to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Substantial business growth rarely occurs if the business owner is unwilling to take a risk. Calculated risks are focused on keeping the risk level within your specific tolerance zone, but they can also help you to energize your company and give it the extra push that it needs to reach a new level of success. Remember that you took a risk launching your business initially, and you may need to take additional risks to grow it substantially.

While you need to step out of your comfort zone and embrace risk if you want your business to grow, you should also define what your acceptable level of risk or loss might be. Then, develop a strategic plan that takes that acceptable level of risk into consideration. Research each aspect of your plan thoroughly so that you are comfortable with it, and talk to your team about the risks and rewards ahead. They should be just as energized and excited about the endeavor as you are.

You should be prepared to endure some road bumps on the course ahead. Some risks will result in a loss, but a detailed plan can help you to navigate through the bumps and reach a higher level of success. With each mistake that you make during the growth process, spend time analyzing it so that you can learn from your failures and improve going forward.

Go Down the Rebranding Route

Your brand should evolve over time, and this helps your business to stay relevant in the marketplace. Rebranding can also draw consumer focus to your business, and this increased visibility and awareness can boost sales and make it easier for your business to expand into new markets. Remember that your competition may be changing over time as well, and you must reposition your brand in a strategic way with the competition in mind.

While you may want to reinvigorate your brand, you need to keep your overall business goals the same. The brand should evolve around the company, and the company should not evolve around the brand.

Analyze the growth plans that you have in mind. Determine what the brand image should be to venture into a new market or to add to your product line. Focus on rebranding that takes these factors as well as the overall identity of your business into consideration. Your new brand image can help you to more easily relate to your target audience and can help you to own different attributes that your target audience values.

Invest In Technology

As your business grows, you should embrace technological changes that are relevant to your business. Not all technology will be helpful or cost-effective, so you will need to analyze the solutions and determine which ones are best suited for your business model and growth plans.

Track new technological developments so that you can quickly and easily incorporate new technology into your business as it develops. Remember that technology can help your business to function more efficiently and cost-effectively, and this is critical when you plan to grow and expand.

Technology offers numerous other benefits for your business as well. It can be used to more easily break into new markets and to reach more customers. It can help your business to innovate new processes and operations, and it may even be used to differentiate your products and services from what the competition is offering.

Even your overall management efforts can be completed more efficiently and effectively through the use of different technological solutions. As you prepare to grow, take the time to learn more about different technologies that can be used to help you achieve your goals.

Know When to Let Go

As your business grows and expands, it becomes less feasible for you to handle all of the work that needs to be done. You will need to learn how to effectively delegate to your valued employees or to reach out to contractors for assistance. You may have to focus more on guiding the growth efforts, and this means that your team should increasingly be relied on.

However, you should only assign tasks to individuals who are dependable and who have the skills or knowledge to handle the tasks. All of your employees should feel empowered and properly trained to handle the work that you are asking them to do.

There may be some bumps in the road as you and your team take on different tasks or let go of them. Be prepared for some transition, and offer oversight and support until you feel confident in your team’s efforts. Letting go through delegation is critical if you want to achieve your business growth goals.

Conclusion

Growing your business can seem intimidating and stressful. The reality is that some things may not go quite as you plan, but you may still reach success with your efforts. Adopt these tips today to more easily navigate through this transition period.

Author bio: Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. Connect with Ashley via Twitter.

A Fresh Start: 5 Ways To Revive Your Business

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Image Source

 Every business needs a regular reboot. It can help you to take your business to the next level, redefine your goals or simply re-motivate you if you’ve been starting to lose inspiration. Here are some of the top ways to give yourself a fresh start.

Remodel your business services

 The services you’re offering may be out of fashion and no longer getting the clientele. They be getting the wrong type of clientele in and damaging your aspirations. Alternatively, the services you offer may be too demanding and simplifying them could be in order. Take the time to really consider what’s working for you and what’s not. Talk to your staff to better understand what they think your company could be offering.

Introduce new expertise

 It may be time to learn some new skills. This could include paying for you and your team to take a course and gain some new expertise that could help you expand your services. There are even day workshops out there in topics such as accountancy, marketing and HR that could be useful for modernising and simplifying your business. Alternatively, you could try hiring someone experienced that can bring new skills to this business. This might allow you to access a new niche in the market.

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Move premises

 Your premises may be too small, too costly or badly located for your business. Moving will not just provide new practical benefits but could mentally provide that fresh start that you need to re-motivate you and your team. Make sure to budget for other costs such as moving companies and legal paperwork. Also consider the practicalities that your current premises has that your new one will also need. This could include a good storage area, good disabled access or free parking.

Have a refurb

 Alternatively you may be able to stay in your current premises and simply reorder things around. If you’re in retail, this might include hiring a shop remodelling company to brighten up the décor and add more space. If you work from an office, it may be a case of reordering desk for better practicality. This will mentally reinforce the idea of a fresh start as with moving but allow you to still keep the comforts and practicalities of your current premises.

Invest in your own custom software

Digital technology is allowing us to become more efficient and more organised. Investing in your own custom software might allow you to better monitor your staff and projects whilst also making life easier for them. This could be anything from a digital till display to an infrastructure organiser to an app for clients. Creating your own software isn’t cheap, so you should consider first whether the added efficiency is worth the money spent. Check first that there aren’t any software solutions already out there that could benefit you – this is likely to be much more affordable.