Home Business – Can You Work From Home With No Investment?

Companies are outsourcing work today because it allows them to cut their expenses. Technology is what is running business today, therefore as long as you have a computer you can work from any place. Just think about Starbucks and how that has become a mecca for business people to meet and conduct business today. Almost any restaurant or coffee house has WiFi built into their system, so you can take a lap top and access the Internet, for sales presentations and for sales training meetings.

All you have to do is set up a room in your home with a desk and your laptop, and used software such as Skype to conduct face-to-face meetings with anyone, even around the world. This allows working mothers to have flex time so they can work around their children’s schedules, especially if their children are young. Companies prefer to hire people to work from home, so they don’t have to have large office space in a high-rise, pay exorbitant fees and rent, pay for utilities, or set up multiple phone lines to handle large amounts of phone calls.

With computers and software installed, it allows the company to transfer calls to different employees in different locations, set a schedule that they have to follow, set up an hourly wage and a schedule of hours an individual has to work, then transfer the calls into the home through the computer when they come in. Then all the employee has to do is decide which days they need to take off in which days they want to work.

Even small businessmen who start a business from home use outsourcing to hire a virtual assistant. I have said this before, in today’s market place you have to retrain your thinking on what a job is, and where you work, because there is no such thing as a 9 to 5 job in office today. As a small businessman, it is cheaper to hire someone and pay them a salary to work from home, rather than renting an office for your secretary to work from when they can do the same thing working from home. This means they don’t have to worry about the stress of traffic just to be at work on time, since all they have to do is walk into the room where they have set up their office space.

As a virtual assistant working from home you can have multiple clients, which allows you to make more money than if you just worked for one person on a set salary. This way you can determine the amount of income you want on a yearly basis.

There is little investment involved when working from home, and also gives you the opportunity to cut your expenses of travel to and from work, or time lost due to accidents on the road when commuting to and from work. Although people in general find it hard to change their concept of a job today, if they would just think about it, it has also improved their lifestyle. That is, you can schedule things around your work hours and have flexible time to get it done in a day.

Before technology played a role in our work day, whenever you worked in an office, you only had an hour during lunch to eat and get any shopping done at the same time. The millennial generation, because they grow up with technology, find it easier to adjust to the new workplace, than previous generations. This also helps in getting rid of the glass ceiling for women. When you work for a Corporation, women were always striving to reach management level positions far higher pay. Today with your small business, you are the owner, which means you can decide what you want to make for the year, and then decide how many clients you need in order to make what you want to earn for the year.

40 years ago, women were either secretaries or teachers. Today you can go all into almost any profession you choose and earn what you want in a year. With the software available to you do can conduct conference calls, webinars, all with out taking away time from work, or lose pay to travel to and from meetings. This is also an inexpensive way to conduct training of employees, because even your training can be outsourced.

For many years companies would hire Train-the-Trainers to come and train their personnel on site. Today the training can be conducted at each workstation through E-Courses. Companies used to have personnel on staff to write the training programs, but since the downturn in the economy and the use of technology, they have cut back on on-site seminars, or even paying for off site seminars; since everything can be done virtually today.

Even job titles have changed because the description of the job has changed. Today, a business consultant is called a business coach, a career consultant is a career coach, and a counselor or therapist is a life coach. It is just that you are repackaging yourself in your marketing of your services.

When you do off-line marketing the cost is higher because you are paying up for printing, purchasing multiple mailing lists, and paying for bulk mailing. When using online marketing you can promote your services through writing of articles, setting up discussions in social groups that you belong to, and also advertising on classifieds sites that are free. This has also cut the amount of investment that you have to put into your business up front as you get started.

Top Start Up Business Plan Ideas

Creating A Business Start Up Plan

Planning is the quintessential part of setting up your online business – It may sound scary, but essentially, creating a start up business plan is simply ‘setting out your targets and mapping a route to your goals’

This post is a brief overview of the points you will need to consider when first drafting your business plan template. There are many free business plan templates available on the internet but I will cover the basics here should you wish to draft your own.

So you want to start your own business? Quitting the 9-5 is a dream that many people have. If you really want to turn those dreams into reality, no matter how far away you are from starting your business, stop daydreaming and get a start up business plan down on paper. Sure, it will take some time, but it will help you get closer to your goals if you are aware of the potential pitfalls before you start. If you’re thinking about a start up business and you get the basics covered before you dive in, you could save yourself from potential disaster by uncovering the problems you will have to face during the start-up phase.

Business plans have a number of functions – as a funding business plan, a marketing plan template, maybe as a joint venture offer. I have made a list of important things to include.

Start Up Business Plan Points

What business will you be in? What will you do? List all of your major products or services

Your Mission Statement: It’s a good idea to create a brief mission statement, usually in 30 words or fewer, explaining your business mission and guiding principles.

Goals and Objectives: Goals are destinations-where you want your business to be. Objectives are progress markers along the way to goal achievement. For example, a goal might be to have a healthy, successful company that is a leader in customer service and that has a loyal customer following. Objectives might be annual sales targets and some specific measures of customer satisfaction.

Business Philosophy: What is important to you in business?

To whom will you market your products? Identify your targeted customers, their characteristics, and their geographic locations, otherwise known as their demographics

Funding and Finance: How much initial investment is required? Where are you sourcing the funds from?

The Edge: What factors will give you competitive advantages or disadvantages? Examples include level of quality or unique or proprietary features. What products and companies will compete with you?

Price Points: What are the pricing, fee, or leasing structures of your products or services?

Your industry: Is it a growth industry? What changes do you foresee in the industry, short term and long term? How will your business poised to take advantage of them?

Legal Environment: Are there Licensing and bonding requirements, do you need Permits? Will your business need to register Trademarks, copyrights, or patents?

Key Financial Data: This includes Your business start up costs, ongoing costs, marketing costs, staff, wages and projected sales. You should calculate your break even points and make projections against your sales of how and when you will achieve this. Plan how much you need before startup, for preliminary expenses, operating expenses, and reserves.

Cashflow Forecast: Create a cashflow forecast. You should keep updating it and using it afterward. It will enable you to foresee shortages in time to do something about them-perhaps cut expenses, or perhaps negotiate a loan. But foremost, you shouldn’t be taken by surprise. There is no great trick to preparing it: A cash flow forecast is just a forward look at your checking account.

Describe your most important company strengths and core competencies. What factors will make your business succeed? What do you think your major competitive strengths will be? What background experience, skills, and strengths do you personally bring to this new venture?

Legal form of ownership: Sole proprietor, Partnership, Corporation, Limited liability corporation (LLC)? Why have you selected this form?

I have worked with many different types of business start ups and find that the most successful (and those who are still around) tend to be the owners who plan in advance. Forward thinking and solid planning contribute to the success of many start up businesses.

Your business plan should be a constant reference sheet for you to use and will ultimately help you achieve your short term, mid term and long term goals. As your business progresses, you will find that your plan will evolve and change and will provide you with a snapshot of your progress as you go along.

I will be creating a lot more posts and examples on how to create a start up business plan – keep checking back for updates.

Your Business Needs a Good SWOT

To continue the growth and success for your business, you need to periodically step back and analyze what’s going on. One of the best tools I have used for years is the SWOT Analysis.

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

SWOT analysis was developed from research conducted at Stanford Research Institute in the 1960s and is an extremely useful tool for a deeper understanding for all sorts of situations in business and organizations. I have found it helps me balance the decision making process.

The SWOT headings provide a good framework for reviewing strategy, position and direction of a company or business proposition. It helps you to quickly identify and manage threats and uncover new opportunities. In most cases, you’ll find strengths and weaknesses to be internal while opportunities and threats will be more external.

I prefer using it with a team of managers or all members of a department. Using a big dry-wipe board, I’ve found that the best way is to think fast and write down items as you think of them. Then go back and add and further define. Don’t be humble when listing your strengths but be brutally honest in listing weaknesses and threats for it is through constructive criticism that they can be overcome.

Make a four box grid with the following headings and start adding items under each heading.

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunities

Threats

Here are a few general examples:

Strengths:

  • In what ways are you better than your competition?
  • Your organization’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
  • Resources, assets, people?
  • Experience, knowledge, data?
  • Financial reserves?
  • Marketing – reach, distribution, awareness?
  • Price, value, quality?

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of competitive strength?
  • Reputation, presence and reach?
  • Cash flow, start-up cash drain?
  • Reliability of data, plan predictability?
  • Morale, commitment, leadership?
  • Poor quality control?

Opportunities:

  • New markets, vertical, horizontal? Technology development and innovation
  • Geographical, export, import?
  • Market need for new USP’s?
  • Market response to tactics, e.g., surprise?
  • Major contracts, tenders?
  • Business and product development?
  • Partnerships, agencies, distribution?

Threats:

  • New regulations?
  • New competitors entering market?
  • Competitor intentions?
  • Market demand?
  • New technologies, services, ideas?
  • Financial and credit pressures?
  • Economy – home, abroad?

The SWOT analysis has multiple uses.

The brains at Stanford Research Institute spent ten years using SWOT with over 1,100 companies verifying that SWOT analysis is a powerful model for many different situations and is a valuable aid in the decision making process.

Some of important Stanford examples of how companies use a SWOT analysis are:

  • A company’s position in the market, commercial viability, etc.
  • Methods of sales and distribution
  • Competitors
  • New products or brands
  • A business idea
  • Strategic options, such as entering a new market or launching a new product
  • An opportunity to make an acquisition (or be acquired)
  • A potential partnership
  • Changing a supplier
  • Outsourcing a service, activity or resource
  • Project planning and project management
  • An investment opportunity
  • Personal career development – direction, choice, change, etc.

You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m sold on SWOTing my business decisions. Completing a SWOT analysis is very simple, and is a good subject for workshops and brain-storming sessions. The beauty of the SWOT analysis is that you can use it in a very quick and basic form or create a very detailed strategic assessment,as your needs require.

After using this powerful tool a few times you will begin to look at things with a new mindset – one that automatically looks at various considerations and ideas that will help your business grow. By looking at your business, your competitors and yourself using the SWOT framework, you can start to craft a strategy that helps you distinguish yourself from your competitors, discover new opportunities, and compete successfully in your market.

So give your business a good SWOT to start the New Year and let me know how it works for you.

To your Success!