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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Part 3

 

There are many challenges with any business, including a home-based business.  To help ensure your success, establish your brand, get the word out, and build your reputation Below are some tips for Branding and Marketing your Home-Based Business:

 

Identify your target market:

You are more likely to gain business if you have a clear idea of who your target customers are or will be. You need to research potential customers and determine who may be interested in your product or service, identify the specific demographic you want to reach, review your existing industry competitors, and identify the characteristics that you want to highlight about your products and services.

 

Make sure that the products or services you offer match the needs of your target clients. Find what makes your business stand out from your competition and highlight it. Determine how you will fulfill the promises you make to your customers and how you will you make them connect personally with your business. When you are able to help people relate personally to your business, they are more likely to gravitate toward your products and services.

 

Create an awesome website:

In our technologically advanced world, your business will need a unique URL (web site address) and user-friendly website that is mobile friendly. If you are web savvy you can certainly create your site yourself but hiring a professional to get it up and going is usually your best bet. A professional will know exactly what your site needs, help you write the site’s content, and make sure it is optimized for search engines.

 

Whether you hire a pro or you decide to go it alone you will need:

A domain name or URL name:

This is your site’s address on the Internet (i.e. google.com or amazon.com). Write out a list of 5 or 6 URLs you would like for your business, as your first choice may be already taken. It is best to select a domain name that is short, easy to remember and ties in with your branding. Avoid hyphens, special characters, or numbers.

 

A website host:

Your website will need to be located on a server or “host” in order to be viewed on the web. There are plenty of reputable web hosting companies out there. Do your research and choose the one you feel is right for you and your business.  If you plan to grow your business with online sales, make sure you select a company that has the capacity you will need as you grow. Try to avoid the cheapest options, they are cheap for a reason.

 

Put together your design:

The look and feel of your website should match your business and align with its goals. Choose colors that represent your company. Keep it consistent with any other marketing materials you have already created. Make sure to incorporate a compelling home page or landing page that captures your customers’ attention right away; use concise messages and make sure all photographs and visuals are of the highest quality; make sure that you are easy to find and use a navigational menu that helps your visitors move through your site with ease; avoid visual clutter and keep your content up to date; also make sure that you place strategic calls to action throughout your website (“sign up” or “subscribe” buttons placed in notable locations).

 

Set up your store and any online payment options (if necessary).

If you are selling products or services directly on your website, you will need to setup online payment options and connect them to your new website.

 

Last checks before launch:

Before you finalize and publish your website you will want to make sure that it loads as quickly as possible. You will also need to check and be sure that it’s mobile friendly as smartphones are increasingly used for online shopping. You want your website to be easy to use, accessible, and convenient for all your customers.

 

Create a matching blog and post regularly:

The blog ideally should be housed underneath your main website. Blogs are a great marketing tool for businesses as they help you enhance your social media presence, they help you establish yourself as an expert in your industry, they help increase your customer base, they increase your company’s visibility on the web, they help develop your brand, they help your brand build trust with your customers, they help you grow your email list, and they can be valuable for gaining better and more frequent customer feedback. Blogging can also help improve your business’s search engine optimization (SEO) by increasing your back linking, adding more frequent new content to your site, and increasing overall traffic to your website.

 

Create and regularly post to social media platforms:

Social media is a great way to market your business, website, and offerings to customers. Setting up an account is totally free and allows you to directly connect with you customers’ interests, opinions, preferences, and changing needs. Social media helps you increase your brand’s awareness, helps build your reputation, creates loyal followers, improves your SEO, and increases click-through traffic to your small business’s website (just make sure that all of your social media platforms link back to your website).

 

Collect email addresses and send out regular newsletters.

Newsletters are an awesome marketing tool to help you build trust and rapport with your customer base. They establish a regular communication channel that can lead to stronger business relationships. Use newsletters to showcase your expertise in your industry; share new products, services, or promotions; highlight your company, your employees, and your clients; you can also toss in a bit of humor or appropriate holiday posts to keep it interesting and not so focused on selling.

 

We encourage Veteran and Military Business Owners to join VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association.   There are not any dues or fees charged to our members.  Here is a link to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

 

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Part 2

 

Below are more Tips for Your Home-Based Business related to your Home Office and Funding:

 

Your Home Office:

1.) Create a positive work environment:

Your home office needs to be a positive and comfortable place for you to concentrate and effectively complete work. Make sure that you select appropriate equipment and furniture that feels comfortable to you. Make sure that you have good lighting and that your computer workstation is setup ergonomically.  Be sure that you have fast Internet service too.

 

2.) Make sure it is legal to run a business out of your home:

There are some places or instances where it is illegal to run a business from your home. This can depend on things like your lease or your area’s zoning regulations. If you happen to learn that you are not permitted to have a home business operation, don’t become discouraged as there are a few things you may be able to do to get your business up and running anyhow.

 

Obtain a variance:

If it is illegal to run a home-based business in your area, a business variance can help you get around this problem. When your local government makes a special exception for your business it is considered a variance. Small businesses that don’t have customers visiting their premises are more likely to receive a variance. To obtain a variance, you will need to contact your city officials.

 

If you rent, check your lease with the homeowner.

If you lease your home, you will need to check with the homeowner to make sure that they are in agreement with you running your business from their property. Your lease may already include information on whether or not you can run a business from the home.

 

Consider moving:

If zoning or a lease is prohibiting your small business’s setup or growth, it may be in your best interest to move to a location that will better facilitate your business.

 

 

Funding Your Home-Based Business:

While a home-based business might imply lower operating costs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is without costs and expenses. If you are low on funds, there are a few ways you can obtain funding for your home startup.

 

1.) Keep your costs low:

As exciting as beginning a new business is, do not let it give you license to spend freely to get up and running. It is very easy to invest in expensive technology, equipment, and marketing materials right away.  Remember overspending can set your business up for failure. Start by investing in only what you need to get up and running for now and try to keep overhead costs as low as possible. Overhead costs include things like rent, utilities, business insurance, wages, office supplies, equipment, and marketing expenses.

 

2.) Lease some of the more expensive items you need:

Equipment can be very expensive, but that doesn’t mean it has to be out of reach. Some larger business equipment can be rented with affordable monthly payments and can provide you the option to buy the equipment at the end of the lease; These items include copiers, printers, scanners, telephone systems, video surveillance systems, plant and warehouse equipment, and much more.

 

3.) Obtain a small business loan:

There are many options for small business loans available, you should select the one that is the best fit for you and your business.

 

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a Microloan Program:

It provides up to $50,000 for small businesses. According to the SBA, the average sized microloan is $13,000. You can use these loans for working capital, inventory or supplies, furniture or fixtures, and even machinery or equipment.

 

Peer-to-peer lending:

If you do not wish to go through a traditional bank, you can use a peer-to-peer lending firm that matches borrowers with investors selecting which loans they want to

 

Home equity:

This one is a bit more risky than other options because if you fail to pay your loan, or your business fails entirely, you could lose your home. However, this option is usually less expensive and easier to obtain than other options.

 

Credit cards:

Credit cards are usually the one of the first places small business owners turn to. This is a good choice if your credit card has a low monthly interest rate.  There is the risk that you can severely damage your personal credit if you fail to pay at least the minimums.

 

Friends and family:

You can always ask a friend or family member for a loan if they have the resources. If you don’t pay them back, you do run the risk of damaging or ruining the relationship.

 

 

Starting and running a business from your home can be incredibly exciting and rewarding. You gain all of the freedom of flexible working hours and reduced expenses. Just make sure that you keep on top of the business.

 

We encourage Veteran and Military Business Owners to join VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association.   There are not any dues or fees charged to our members.  Here is a link to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

 

Home-Based Business Tips : Starting Your Business – Part 1

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Part 1

 

Most businesses start small and some even choose to stay that way. Large corporations such as Amazon and Apple began in garages. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), 50% of all firms in the U.S. currently are home-based. If your business idea is worth pursuing, don’t be afraid to start it at home. Working from home will require some forethought and discipline to stay on task.

 

To help ensure success, here are a few tips for starting and operating a home-based business:

 

Starting Your Business:

1.) Make sure your business idea is a good one:

Successful businesses, products, and services solve a problem that customer’s face. Make sure that you properly research your business idea before you begin to invest time, energy, and money. No one wants to waste what resources they have on an idea that will never get off the ground.

 

Search Google, YouTube, and other relevant sites to make sure that the product or service you want to provide doesn’t already exist. If it does, figure out ways to improve it or make it more distinguishable from what will be your competition.

 

Make sure that you create a comprehensive business plan to help organize your ideas, business goals, how you plan to make a profit, and all estimated expenses. Create a prototype (if applicable), and test it, to help you determine how the market will receive your product. Determine the right price for your product by determining the cost to manufacture and what your competitors charge and letting you know what customers are willing to pay.

 

2.) Obtain a business license:

Even home-based businesses need a business license and this is especially true if you plan to sell goods or services to customers. This allows your revenue to be tracked for taxation by your local city. Check with them for information on obtaining and renewing your license.

 

3.) Obtain business the insurance:

It is always a good idea to proactively protect yourself. Most businesses need professional liability insurance and general liability insurance; You may need additional coverages too. Consult an insurance professional to see what type of insurance your business will require.

 

4.)  Brand your business:

Branding your business is vital to your success. Branding offers consistency throughout all promotional channels (such as your social media, ads, newsletters, and more), it generates your unique identity, and can increase your perceived professionalism. Plan to pay a professional to develop a good logo, website, social media pages, business cards, unique packaging materials, and other marketing materials (brochures, flyers, coupons, signs, etc.) that you will need to effectively brand yourself and market your offerings.

 

5.) Build your team:

Unless you plan to run the business alone you will need to build a solid team of like-minded individuals. Make sure that you have already clearly established your goals for your team and work environment and then find candidates that share your vision for the culture you want to foster and make sure that they have a strong desire to help your business grow.

 

6.) Taxes:

There are different laws and taxes for home-based businesses, and it is always a good idea to fully understand how your taxes will change as.  There are quite a few deductions for home-offices such as mortgage, rent, utilities, real estate taxes, repairs, maintenance, upgrades, and more. It is always a good idea to consult a tax professional before you begin your business.

 

7.) Do Not Stagnate:

As our world changes around us, we must be flexible and change with it. Your business model and goals will need to be able to adapt as consumer needs, economics, technology, politics, laws, and preferences in the market change. Stay on your toes and don’t get too comfortable regardless of how successful you are becoming. You need to make sure that your product or service doesn’t become stale in your market.

 

We encourage Veteran and Military Business Owners to join VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association.   There are not any dues or fees charged to our members.  Here is a link to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

 

 

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