More and more women today work from home, and even more want to. Some are single moms or widows who need to earn a living. Others just want a little extra income or a sense of independence. Particularly for women, starting a home business presents a unique set of challenges. Lesley Spencer, founder and president of Home Based Working Moms (http://HBWM.com), suggests three steps to help ensure success:
1. Consider Your Options
The first obstacle in starting a business is figuring out which one’s right for you. Before making any decisions, find out what’s available to you. Almost anything you can do—whether it’s graphic design, sales and marketing, or administration—you can do from the comfort of your home. Before determining a direction, look at all factors involved:
• Your skills and interests. You’re much more likely to persevere and succeed if you enjoy what you’re doing.
• Your personality. If you’re extremely shy, hosting home parties might not be right for you — even if you really like the product you’re selling. Many women fail because they jump into the first thing they see, and it doesn’t work with their disposition.
• Your needs. How many and what hours can you work? How much money do you have to make? How much flexibility do you need in your schedule?
Once you’ve researched your opportunities and analyzed your skill set, you can make an informed, intelligent decision about which career move is right for you.
2. Make a Conscious Effort to Develop Your Customer Base
Many women are good at what they do, but don’t know how to market themselves to reach customers. Spencer advises, “Make a conscious decision to do something to market your business daily, or at least weekly, whether it’s a mail-out, an email campaign, or offering a special.”
Word-of-mouth referrals mean more business, so focus on doing a good job for the clients you have. Always do follow-up — you want to stay in contact and remind people you’re there. Having a web site, an online presence, is another tool you can use to attract new customers.
3. Don’t Be a Lone Ranger — Find a Support Network
You don’t have to feel alone or try to handle everything yourself — there are many online communities that can provide you with support and advice. Http://HBWM.com, and many online groups, offer what’s called a ListServe that lets you post questions that all members of that site can see and respond to. Says Spencer, “You can save hours of research just by asking someone with experience.” Whatever business you’re in, there’s a forum for it. Seek out people that have already succeeded — find a mentor.