Home-based business has come to represent a large segment of today’s workforce and a powerful force in the economy. However, home businesses are often regarded as “little hobbies” and therefore are not taken SERIOUSLY.
TREAT IT SERIOUSLY
The key for your home business to receive the respect it deserves is to run your business as professionally as possible, just like any business. A professional image does not just happen overnight: you need to create and NURTURE it throughout the life cycle of your business. It involves everything from your own workspace and business name, to your promotional and marketing materials, and to efficient communications and services. PROFESSIONALISM is the only weapon that can be effectively used to overcome misconceptions about the seriousness of this major economic force. Here are some tips to build professionalism and combat the hobbyist image that people have for home-based workers:
Start with your own attitude about yourself and your business. The way you conduct your business influences the way people think of you. Never, ever APOLOGIZE for working at home! Convey CONFIDENCE in yourself and your business (even if you do not feel it yet inside). Your customers will be most likely to trust you with their business, and others will respect you as a savvy entrepreneur.
Set-up a room, or even a desk in a corner, designated just for your business. If possible, have your office in a SEPARATE room with doors, or at least with screens and partitions. This will let your family and others know that you are working and should not be disturbed when you are in your “office”. This will block off unwanted noises in the background, such as the barking of the dog or children crying, which you certainly would not want your clients to hear as you talk on the phone. This will also help shift your MINDSET from household tasks to business activities when you are in your business area.
Find a block (or segments) of time that you can regularly set as business HOURS. Politely let others know these are your business hours, and you will get back to them -- unless it is an emergency -- when you are finished working. One man operating a home-based business puts a “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door to let his neighbors know that he is busy at work.
Carry business cards, an organizer, or an APPOINTMENT book with you at all times. Make it a point to tell people you have a home business and share the pride you feel. When your client sets up a follow-up meeting, or even if your friends ask you for lunch, be sure to put these appointments in your calendar.
Print your business name, logo, and address on all your COLLATERAL materials -- business cards, letterheads, brochures, envelopes, and other office supplies. Be sure these materials look professional to make a positive impression on your potential clients.
Have a separate phone and fax line for your business. Always answer professionally and never let kids answer it. Return calls PROMPTLY. This will convey the impression that they are important to you.
Get an answering machine, voice mail or answering service to handle calls when you are away from your office or otherwise occupied. However, avoid using tape answering machine that sounds too AMATEURISH.
KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING
Have a business plan and check it regularly to see whether you are close to following the time schedule you have allotted to reach your goals. Keep FOCUSED on the tasks, but also look toward the future possibilities your business might achieve. Have a business vision.
Join and network with professional and trade ORGANIZATIONS. This is a good way to establish contacts in your industry.
LOOK THE PART
Dress PROFESSIONALLY when you meet people. You can dress casually in the house but make sure to project a professional image when doing business in person.
HOLD YOUR HEAD UP
Be PROUD being a home-based entrepreneur! More and more people are now starting to earn their living working from home. More importantly, develop a mindset for business and financial success.
Isabel Isidro is the founder of Power HomeBiz Guides -- an online magazine designed to stimulate your entrepreneurial mind. To subscribe to the bi-monthly newsletter, send an email to . You may visit her website at www.powerhomebiz.com.
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