I’m willing to bet that you know at least 2-3 people who have their own home business or work as an independent contractor. Perhaps you are an entrepreneur yourself! Personal businesses and side hustles have exploded in popularity over the last few years, and I can’t say I’m surprised.
For starters, this type of career offers much more flexibility than a traditional 9-5 office job. Similarly, you have total control over your work environment. Dealing with rush-hour traffic is rarely an issue. And office politics…they don’t exist.
I’ve talked in previous posts about how to make the most of working from home. We’ve discussed strategies to increase motivation, boost productivity, and create a healthy work-life balance. Because let’s face it, when you work from home, that dividing line between work and life is often quite blurry!
Well today I’d like to dig into the world of entrepreneurship a little further and consider 5 home business mistakes that many business owners face. We’ll talk about what these challenges are, how to recognize them, and most importantly, how to avoid them to boost your productivity.
So if you’re looking for ways to maximize your business’s potential, and get the most out of your time, resources, and money, then read on. This post is just for you.
5 Home Business Mistakes To Avoid As An Entrepreneur
#5 Wasting Unnecessary Money
As I mentioned above, managing your business from the comfort of your home comes with many added benefits. And perhaps one of the biggest advantages is its affordability. When you don’t have to pay rent for an office space, and you don’t have the added expenses of heat, electricity, and internet for a second location, you’re saving a significant amount of money.
But with that being said, there are many sneaky ways that money can “slip through your fingers” if you’re not careful. So how can you make the most of your expenditures? Jacquelin Lynn offers a thorough list of money saving secrets, over at Entrepreneur.com. And I’ve included a few of my favorite strategies from her list below.
Buy wholesale or negotiate a discount
If you have the storage space, buying wholesale is one of the best ways to save money on supplies. But if you simply don’t have the room, don’t worry! There are other options as well. As Lynn recommends, “[a]sk your supplier for a bulk rate as long as you commit to purchasing a certain quantity over a specified period of time.”
In other words, if you require a certain type of candle for your Etsy business, but you simply cannot store 500 of them in your home, talk with your supplier. Perhaps you can work out a deal where you get the wholesale rate if you agree to purchase a certain amount over a specific period of time. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Along a similar vein, consider buying at trade shows. In situations like this, many suppliers offer discounts if you purchase from the show that day. (Just make sure your vehicle is large enough to bring the products home with you!)
Lynn also recommends using energy-efficient products, and getting a free energy audit from your utility company. They’ll give you recommendations on how to save energy and money each month, many of which add up to significant savings throughout the year.
While this might seem obvious to veterans in the business, new entrepreneurs might overlook this important step. Remember, you can deduct a portion of your rent/mortgage interest and utilities as a business expense. And you can also deduct a percentage of household maintenance expenses. As Lynn recommends, “check out the Internal Revenue Service’s website, or check with a knowledgeable tax advisor for more information.”
And if you’re overwhelmed with all of these different ways to stretch your dollar, it might be worth speaking with a small business accountant. They not only explain all the details about what counts as a business expense, but they’ll also save you an incredible amount of time in the process.
#4 Going it Alone
Most of the time, entrepreneurs and side hustles are a one-person enterprise. While this too has its benefits (complete control, no employees to pay, etc.) it can also be a burden. And this is especially true once your business starts doing well.
In situations like this, it’s easy to get stuck dealing with all the minutia of the job, which makes you miss out on moving your company forward. You might see the big picture, but you can’t work toward your goals because you simply don’t have the time.
When you reach this point, first of all, celebrate! That’s fantastic! Your business is succeeding! Then, reflect on the old saying, “you have to spend money to make money.”
If you want your business to grow, but you’ve reached your personal limit, you probably need help getting to the next step. If you’re not ready to hire full time employees, consider working with independent contractors. As Matt Danielsson explains, “The greatest advantage of hiring contractors to pitch in is that they run their own businesses. There is no hassle with benefits, tax withholding, overtime [etc.]” And once they’ve completed the task, you pay them for their service and the transaction is complete. There’s no burden of bi-weekly paychecks.
So if you need a logo designed, a website built, or basic help with marketing and distribution, an independent contractor might be your answer. There are many great freelance directories out there, so take a look and find your solution today.
#3 Wasting Time
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, being your own boss puts you in charge, but it also creates many opportunities to get side tracked. And this is especially true when working from home. (“Oh! Let me just throw in a load of laundry” “Oops! I better unload the dishwasher!” “The floors are filthy! Let me run a vacuum through quickly…” “How is it already 4:45??” Sound familiar?)
It goes without saying that this kind of distraction leads to slower production and potentially poor customer support, so it’s best to stop those distractions at their source.
For a plethora of strategies to eliminate wasted time and maximize your productivity working from home, check out these posts:
#2 Minimal (or non existent) Online Presence
You don’t need me to tell you that more and more people are turning to the internet for…well…virtually everything. And because of this simple fact, every business owner needs a strong online presence.
The hard reality is this: there are hundreds of other websites out there that offer similar products or services as you. This means you need to do everything you can to stand out.
So where should you start?
First, invest in a website and hosting company. I personally use Bluehost for my hosting company and WordPress.org for my website. I’ve had a great experience working with both, and would definitely recommend them to anyone. The support is great, and they’re both incredibly affordable.
Once you have your website established, make sure you regularly update your content. Even if you’re a store that sells physical products, it’s important to keep your website fresh.
What should you write about? Anything relevant to your niche! Write a blog post about your favorite new products. Let everyone know about an upcoming sale. Write a post about the newest class you’re offering. This is a great way to stay fresh in your customers’ mind, keep them informed, and ensure they’re returning to your site often.
Another important tip is rather than spending excess money on advertising, try putting some extra effort into having the best SEO possible for your website. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it is the key factor in bringing your product to the top of Google’s search results.
If you’re wondering how to improve your site’s SEO, don’t worry. I have a few strategies right here 🙂
Finally, be sure to have a newsletter available so you can reach out to your subscribers and potential customers on a regular basis. Keep them posted on your latest news, updates, sales, etc. It’s a great way to keep them coming back again and again!
(As a heads up, by law you must have an address included at the bottom of your newsletters. So whether you use a PO box, or a home-based business address, make sure you include this information in any of your email marketing.
#1 Overlooking Customer Care
For any business, when work gets particularly busy, certain parts of the job fall through the cracks. And when you’re the sole business owner, it’s even easier for this to happen. So if (or when) you run into this problem, be mindful of what you let slide. And take special care that it’s not customer satisfaction.
As Colbey Pfund explains, “In an increasingly digital marketplace…a smart business owner knows that business analysts and legal teams are constantly reviewing contracts and comparing services. When it comes time to renew contracts, one of the most resounding impressions is that of a consistent service experience.” [italics mine]. In other words, a positive customer experience is key to repeat customers and clients; keep it at the top of your priority list.
So if your business is taking off (woohoo!), and you need an extra hand, consider investing in freelance workers or virtual assistants to help lighten the load. Remember, you can’t have a business without the customer. So don’t ignore them, and keep ‘em happy 🙂
If you’re an entrepreneur, independent contractor, or personal business owner, take some time to reflect on these five stumbling blocks. By making yourself aware of the challenges, and creating strategies to avoid them, you’ll keep your business moving full steam ahead.
Have you tripped over any of these stumbling blocks for your business? What are your strategies to keep your side hustle running smoothly? Do you work from home? Let me know below!