Skills you need to start and run a business from home

Starting your own business and choosing to do it from home is both a brave and popular business venture at the moment. The flexible hours, controllable workload and doing what you love are all attractive perks to starting your own business from home.

But it takes the right kind of person with the right kind of attributes and skills to pull off a successful home business. And if you’re considering taking this type of business journey for yourself, you need to know what it’s going to take to make it work and make sure you get those skills down before you try it out.

The best thing to do for any job is to make sure you’re qualified and capable. And that’s what you’re about to find out.

Discipline and determination

 

If you were a student who studied via correspondence from your desk at home, then working from home, sticking to deadlines and making sure you actually work, shouldn’t be a problem. But, if you had to go to a university or college and attend lectures to force yourself to focus, then you might struggle to work from home.

There’s a certain type of self-discipline that is required when working from home. You have all the distractions in the world at your disposal and no one else to keep a watchful eye or be on your case to make sure your work gets done.

You need to create your own determination and find the discipline to get work done on a daily basis. You need to work in a productive environment within the house and not from the cosiness of your bed or comfort of your pyjamas. Your success is based on the amount of effort you put in and if you can’t find enough focus to work at home, then your business will never get the attention it needs to grow.

Organisational and project management skills

We spoke about needing to work in a productive environment. Hand in hand with that is the

need to have organisational skills to help you stay on top of things. You can’t mix work and home life together because then you’ll have kids toys in the office, lost documents and all the “home” things calling you away from your desk.

While starting your business from home is a way to balance your work and home life, it still doesn’t mean that your home life distracts for work life. Which is also why you’ll need project management skills. Being organised and tracking the progress of all your projects will help you stay focused on work during work hours and realise the urgency of your tasks. It’s easier to focus and work hard when there’s a plan, a deadline and nothing extra lying around to steal your attention.

Finance and accounting skills

An important part of any business is finances. If you don’t consider yourself the ideal candidate to run a finance manager training programme, you may want to look into finance for non-finance managers courses. As they say, “it takes money to make money” and you’re going to need to manage finances as soon as you proceed with the idea of starting your own business.

And if you look at the two-day finance for non-finance managers course outline, you’ll see that you cover all the basic necessities of business finance that you’ll need to know to manage your business’ money and keep it afloat. They even have a module that covers making financial decisions, which will definitely come in handy during your time as a self-employed, business owner and manager.

Of course, there is always the option of bringing an outside finance expert in, but even then  it would be beneficial for you to have a good idea of what they’re talking about and suggesting. So, just take the course. It will be better for business.

Clear communication skills

And, lastly, you’ll need clear communication skills to be able to start and run your business from home. You will need to contact the necessary institutions to register, finance and market your business and you need to be able to clearly communicate what you want, need and are looking for.

More than that, you will need to build a network of contacts who can help you, endorse your products and collaborate with you. And you’ll need to be able to communicate with clients on a firm and professional level.

Communication is how you’ll market your business and build your brand. You need to know what it is you want to communicate to your clients and target market, and execute it properly the first time. All of these skills will serve you well in your at-home business. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and stick to the game plan for as long as it’s relevant.

How to start a business without any money

You may be sitting at your work desk right now in an office full of people who can never seem to get your name right and doing a job that makes you wish every hour between eight and five away. You may have big dreams of starting your own business but have no money to back the idea up.

Well, what if you were told that it is possible to start up a business without any money? You’d want to jump on that train right now, wouldn’t you? Well, technically, there are ways to go about starting a business without having the initial capital to get it off the ground. You just need to be smart about it and do it the right way.

Choose the right business

If all you know is that you want to start your own business, then pay close attention to the following business ideas that cost next to nothing to start up.

  • Creative business: If you’re creative and can write, draw, paint, sculpt or craft items that appeal to a market, then you’ve got yourself a business that will only cost you the materials you use. Then it’s as easy as finding an online platform or local market to sell it all.
  • Home-services: Pay the price to fill your petrol tank and offer your services as a house sitter, pet sitter, babysitter, or dog-walker. You could also spend the extra cash to buy your own supplies and register yourself as a mobile nail technician, repairman, pet groomer or garden service. People like it when they don’t have to leave their house for things or when they can trust their house to be under the care of other people for a while.
  • Reselling: Find a brand or set of products that you can personally endorse and buy it from a wholesaler or drop shipper to resell to your own market of customers. This is a popular side business for most people and the more successful you are at it, the more you can rely on it as a stable income.
  • Use what you’ve got: Have a car? Or a spare bedroom? Uber and Airbnb are “micropreneurship opportunities” where you can basically run your own business through the template of a head organisation.

But if you have bigger business plans in mind, just keep reading. The above business suggestions can also be seen as extra ways to start making and saving some money for the big leagues.

Don’t quit your day job… for now

Once the “I want to start my own business” seed has been planted, it’s very tempting to quit your day job and start spending all your energy on this new venture. That’s not going to be the best move. If you don’t have money to start a business, you probably won’t be able to survive very long without any income. And new businesses generally cost money before they start making you money.

So, don’t quit just yet. Use any extra time you have to do your research on the business you want to start, the industry it’s in, the market you want to target and coming up with a sound business plan – right down to the asset finance solutions. You’ll know when it’s the right time to focus solely on your own business.

And by sticking to your current job, you’ll be in an environment where you can learn new things, build experience and grow your network. After all, it’s all about who you know when it comes to business matters. Networking within your current company and the companies affiliated with it will make it easier for you to find investors for your business when you branch out and do your own thing.

Design a crowdfund-worthy product

Your business idea may be exactly what the public has been waiting for. To see if you’ve created a crowdfund-worthy product, set up an account and campaign on a crowdfunding website. This way you can gauge the amount of interest (or lack thereof) there is in what you want to do as well as earn the money you need to get started.

Be prepared for the chance of there being zero interest or not enough to confirm your business idea. In that case, you can either think of something else or find the money somewhere else and sell your product to a different market.

Secure a business loan and start with the basics

 

The next step, once you’ve done your research and have a solid business plan in place, is to apply for corporate financing and secure a business loan. Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you’re going to need equipment to help you do it.

Apply for machinery asset finance within the industry you’re going to work in. Financing your equipment allows you to start your business while in the process of making the money you need to make it better. You’ll find that once you start, things get a bit easier. And with finance loans, you’ll be able to afford that start.

How to stay productive throughout the workday

You’re not the only one who reaches a certain point in the day where you “just can’t” anymore. Everyone experiences it. Some people just know how to deal with it better than others. Obviously, it’s important to stay productive throughout the entire workday. So, if we manage our workday routines, we’ll be able to be more consistently productive throughout the day.

Start a new work week with these practices and see what difference it makes to your productivity levels. You may need to change things up frequently in order to maintain productivity, but first, you need to find out what works. Here are a few things you can do to stay productive throughout the workday.

Have a plan for the day

It’s easy to go with the motions of the day and tackle workloads as they come in. But wouldn’t it be more motivating to get things done if you start the day with a list of things you want and need to complete? This way, you’re setting deadlines for yourself. And, in most cases, when there’s a deadline, it’s easier to push through work and make sure it’s done in time.

At the end of every day, you should be creating a to-do list for the next day. Then, when you get into the office, you check your list, organise yourself and get straight to work. Tick things off as you go along, it’s good to track your progress because you can then see and feel how you’re achieving goals and being productive.

If your tasks can’t be easily quantified onto a list, then the next best thing you can do to plan for the day is set some goals and make sure you reach them by the day’s end. And by creating a plan for the day, you’re also less likely to becomes overwhelmed by the work the day brings in as you can prioritise your list of things to do and not forget about anything. As long as you’re realistic about what you can get done within a day, it will be easy to motivate yourself and maintain your productivity.

Take that coffee break

While you’re working through your to-do list for the day, you mustn’t forget to take a break every now and then. Stretch your legs and make yourself a cup of coffee. Get your company to invest in a Nescafé Alegria coffee machine where all it takes is a touch of a button and, voilá, you have a cup of caffeine ready to give you that much-needed boost. If your office has an outdoor section, ask your employer if they could consider adding some plants and outdoor décor to help employees relax their minds for a bit.

But don’t underestimate the power of a mini-break. Just give yourself five minutes to step away from the computer, get some fresh air from outside and move your body. After those five minutes, your mind will be ready for the next round of hard work. Don’t forget to drink water too. You can’t live off only coffee in the office. Your body needs the hydrating, energetic, flushing and nutritious properties of water as well.

Have a “power hour”

If you want to be incredibly productive in the day and tackle as much of the workload as possible, you need to fit in at least one “power hour” at some point of the day. Now, what exactly is a power hour, you ask? It’s a full, uninterrupted 60 minutes of work. And “uninterrupted” means no email checking, no Skype or instant messaging (internal office communication and personal communication included), no talking to anyone else in the office, no internet browsing or using your cellphone, just working.

Put your earphones in if necessary, mute all your conversations and put a “do not disturb” sign up if you really have to. Set a timer so that you don’t end up checking the time every 10 minutes and risk being distracted. It’s only one hour of an eight-hour workday, you can afford it and you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually get done.    

Know when you’re in over your head

There is such a thing as too much work for one person and it’s important to know what your limit is. You can’t keep saying yes to work that you know you’ll either never get done on time or do to the best of your abilities within the time constraints. The key to productivity is witnessing your progress, but when you’re in over your head and feel like you can’t get anything done, it’s easy to lose focus and motivation.

There’s no shame in asking for help or saying no when client service sends a new, non-priority project your way. For the sake of your productivity and performance, you need to learn when to say no. Master the management of your daily tasks before you try to undertake any ad hoc tasks.

It is possible to stay productive throughout the workday, you just need to set your realistic goals, give your body the caffeine, hydration and break it needs, and put your head down for an hour at a time.

5 ways to help grow your landscaping business

Landscaping is one of those industries that aren’t always stable. Whether you specialise in fencing, decking, artificial grass or the entire spectrum of garden layouts, here are a few tips that will help you grow your business and increase your leads no matter what your service offerings are:

  • Quote your jobs professionally

Because landscaping for homes or business parks is a luxury for most, people want to be able to ask for a quote and be given one up-front in return. Having a clear and concise quoting system will truly make your business seem more efficient. For example, if you’re pruning bushes or setting up a diamond mesh fence for a customer, invest in a good quality software package to assist with your quotes.

Estimations are no longer credited because they often go beyond the amount estimated, which is not acceptable for people who are committing to big, expensive jobs. If you start relying on a computer program to quickly spit out quotes that also include a breakdown of everything that is included, you will be able to make a good first impression and keep customers happy with your honest, efficient service.

Another perk of having the right cost estimations at hand is that you will eliminate any miscommunications through verbal agreements. Once you have something on paper, which is signed by both parties, you will always have something to backup your word.

  • Schedule your jobs properly

In such an on-and-off industry, it’s completely understandable that you’re not always going to have a busy schedule. However, this cannot rub off onto your customers. You need to schedule jobs accordingly and make sure that you have a set plan on when you’re going to be meeting with your customer for their diamond mesh job. It cannot be on your time, it also needs to suit them. In busier months, you’ll be thankful for this as things can quickly get out of hand. Track your business through CRM tools and applications which help you keep to schedules and plan your days accordingly.

  • Hire the correct staff for the job

From marketing your business to transporting the goods and processing your invoices, you cannot be one person who does everything. Depending on how busy you are, you will need to hire people who can take on these jobs without having to put extra pressure on yourself. Some of the most important landscaping roles include general assistants who can do maintenance and diamond mesh installations, licensed chemical applicators, a financial person who can put through jobs and quote on them, general office staff who can assist with any last minute admin issues and someone who can handle your digital marketing. Owning a business in a digital-driven world means that you will need to venture into this space. Someone will have to boost your business on social media and connect with customers on a daily basis.

Because this is such a yo-yo industry, it might be best to contract these positions or hire freelance individuals who can assist you when you need them most. The same goes for contractors and suppliers who supply your stock. You never want to put yourself in a difficult financial position, unless you have signed on retainer clients that are bringing in a constant flow of money.

  • Revamp or rebrand

On the back of the previous point, make sure your website is telling the brand story you want people to see and feel. Updating your website or rebranding your business’ look and feel can bring you great benefits. If you’re someone who still has the same, unchanged website since the early 2000s, it’s time to step things up a notch. Speak to a digital agency or someone with enough knowledge and industry know-how to help you create something that is mobile-friendly and optimised for search. By search, it means that the minute someone searches for landscaping companies near them, your company will show up.

  • Expand your expertise

Lastly, if you want to keep up with competitors around you, you’re going to need to think outside the box with your marketing abilities and start incorporating new ideas into your business offerings. For example, if you’re only offering diamond mesh fencing, perhaps you should consider pushing wooden fencing targets. The same goes for mowing lawns. With water conditions being uncertain, try looking at artificial grass. When you start to offer a variety of different services, it will set you apart from your competitors.

Different ways to invest your company’s profits

It’s always exciting when business is a success and you see the hard-earned profits roll in. When it first comes around, you may not be expecting it and while you’re in mid-celebration of the success, you start to wonder what it is you’re going to do with the money. It’s important to have a game plan in place for what to do with the profit your business makes.

There are so many different ways to invest your company’s profits. All of which will depend on where your company is at, what it needs and where you want it to go. We’ll be looking at a few different things you could possibly do with your profits, should it be the right move for the company.

Invest in the company

Investing in the company needs to be broken down because, in that alone, there are so many ways one could invest or, rather, reinvest.

  • In the infrastructure: This may be the opportunity to expand your company and improve its infrastructure. You may want to relocate to another building or invest in making your current building better for the business and its employees.
  • In the equipment: Every company has a degree of equipment they use for their business. If it’s not large machinery and vehicles, it’s computers, desks and projectors. Even business software falls under the equipment list. There will always be a need for better or more equipment, so it’s definitely a great place to invest profits.
  • In the marketing department: No company should underestimate the power of the marketing department. Specifically digital marketing in today’s world. If there was ever a budget that needed to be increased, it would be for marketing. So, take some of the profit and start investing in marketing. It’s essentially investing in your brand reputation.
  • In the people: Then we come to the individuals who make up the company and allow it to be successful. You need to invest in your employees and make sure that they continue to love working here. Consider investing in employee training, employee benefits or even new employees. If you have the resources, it would be good to spend a little time and money on the people who helped achieve them for you.

If, in order to afford these investments, it’s necessary to look into financing options for the business, you can always use the profits as a deposit. That deposit may be what you’ve needed to make the improvements more affordable and that’s something you can work out with an asset finance calculator. It’s not a step back to still have to take out a loan in order to invest in the company, the deposit from profits can make all the difference.

Invest in the community

Most companies have a social responsibility to their community (local or at large). And, at some point, you need to step up and give back to the people who support you in ways that are more significant and sentimental than providing them with your unique product or service. Different ways in which you can invest your profits into the community are:

  • Volunteering: Giving up your time and human resources (your employees), is one way of investing in the community. Having a volunteering team of employees to help out in the community will make a difference in the lives of those in need as well as the lives of your employees. Hold soup kitchens, food drives, street stores or collections of goods where everyone can get involved.
  • Sponsoring events and charities: Another way to invest in the community would be to sponsor a charity or charitable event. And sponsoring does two things. One, it makes an important community event possible and, two, it markets your company as more than just a corporate institution.
  • Support local vendors: If you want to support and promote the local community, you can also do so by investing in what local vendors and small businesses have to offer. You will also be contributing to the local economy and boosting the quality of the community who may finally have the chance to invest profits of their own to improve their businesses and infrastructure.
  • Work pro bono: And another example of investing in the community would be by taking the profits you earn and creating a budget for pro bono projects. This way your company can provide quality products and services to those who really need it but cannot afford it.    

Invest in a savings account

The last profit investment option we will be discussing is that of investing in a savings account. Every person needs a savings account in the event of an emergency and the same goes for companies.

Accidents, lawsuits, breakdowns, theft and damage could happen at any time and without a savings account, your company risks being in debt in order to remedy the issues. It may seem like a bit of a waste to store the profits away when it could be used for other things, but that’s where your discretion comes in. You know what your company needs and you now know the different ways in which you can invest.