Sunday, March 8, 2009

Treat Your Business Like a Business

My grandchildren have been spending the past few days with me while their Mom and Dad prepare to give me one more to add to the brood. It has been so tempting to just close up shop and spend time with the kids. They are full of excitement and energy right now with a little brother on the way. They want to be home. They are impatient to have all of this over with. They don't seem to be able to entertain themselves for even a few minutes. It's all very distracting.

Just when I was about ready to give in, turn off the computer, contact my clients and tell them I was taking a few days off, and focus all my attention on the grandkids, one of my coaching clients reminded me of something I had told her when she first started: Just because you work from home, you still have to work. You have to treat your home business like a business! Thanks for the reminder.

Thinking that if I needed the gentle reminder, so perhaps did others, I've decided to share with you the advice I gave to her.

First, it's a business. Treat it like one. If you think you are going to sign up for free affiliate programs, put up some free classified ads, then sit back and watch the checks roll in, don't quit your day job. It doesn't work quite that way. You can't own a McDonald's franchise without a little upfront investment. The same is true of any business. You can find some legitimate businesses that are very inexpensive to start. It only cost me $299 to start with Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing. And there are some very good affiliate programs such as SBI that are free to join but pay very good commissions. But you still need to invest a little bit in advertising.

Once you have decided on the basis of your business, you need to learn all you can about your internet marketing and your business in particular. There are many ways to do this and you will find all kinds of "gurus" offering to help if you will pay them enough. Some of them really do know what they are talking about and some of them don't. I can personally recommend some of them and you will find them mentioned in many of my earlier posts. You can also read this blog from the beginning for help. Be prepared to spend a little bit of money on some of the better books, courses, and seminars. Consider it part of your "online marketing degree!"

Let everyone know you are in business! This seems to be one of the biggest obstacles for most online marketers. Either they think they can't afford to advertise or they don't know how to do so effectively. Some, especially the network marketers, are afraid to do so because they think no one will take them seriously. Let's face facts. You can't slap a McDonald's on a street corner and expect to do business if no one knows McDonald's exists. You can't expect customers to find you if they don't know who you are. Tell people! If you don't have money to advertise, start by telling everyone you know. You can do that pretty inexpensively and you know far more people than you realize. When I started in Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, the first thing I did was send an email or a postcard to everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) I could think of telling them what I was doing and inviting them to visit my website. Some of them ignored me (FHTM is network marketing, after all). Some didn't. Some of those that visited became my customers. Six of them even became involved in the business with me. Those six have helped me build a team of almost 400. Not too bad for a few emails and a postcard or two. And the ones who laughed? They aren't laughing so much anymore!

Work your business. The number one reason most internet marketers fail is that they give up. They just quit. They don't make thousands of dollars overnight and so they just stop working. Do you know how much my first FHTM commission was? 84 cents! Two years later I'm not going to tell you how much I make, but it's enough to support me quite nicely. Am I a millionaire? Not yet. But I make more than enough to live on. So get up and go to work every day. If you have to keep your regular job while you build your business, that's okay. Just be sure you do at least one thing everyday to move your business forward.

Go to work at least 6 days a week. I know - many entrepreneurs say they work 7 days a week. But even God took a day off. Choose one day a week to relax and focus on your family and yourself. It's necessary to maintain some balance in your life or you will burn out. I don't normally work much on Sunday. It's the day I spend in fellowship with my church family and focusing on my husband, children, and grandchildren. But the other 6 days of the week, I'm at work. You need to do the same. Even if you are still working at a job while you build your business, you absolutely must devote some time to your business everyday except one if you want to grow.

Schedule your time when you are most productive. I am a night owl by nature. You will often find me working online until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. And if you interact with me personally, you will quickly find out that I don't schedule meetings or phone calls in the morning very often. I maximize my time by scheduling around my own internal clock. Meetings and phone calls in the early to late afternoon. Paperwork and computer work in the evenings or very early morning. If you have to work a set schedule because of job or family commitments, then do your best to prioritize your schedule based on your available hours.

Just say no! Just because you now work from home does not mean you are available to run errands, watch sick kids, have coffee or long, leisurely lunches with friends. You are running a business and you will have to teach your family and friends that you are serious. I had to work very hard to make my family understand that during certain hours of the day, I was simply unavailable unless it was an emergency.

Internet marketing is just like any other business. You will get out of it what you put into it. I can't promise you will get rich. I can promise you that if you find a legitimate business or affiliate program, take the advice of those who have gone before you, let people know you are in business, concede that you aren't going to get rich without some investment, and most importantly, WORK YOUR BUSINESS and DON'T GIVE UP - you can make a living online. Heck, if I can do it, so can you!


Eileen Williams said...

I always turn to your blog for advice on business and all things related to creating an income stream from home. Your suggestions are sound and this is no exception.
I also work outside the home so can't devote as much time as I'd like to launching my home business. However, by doing a little bit every day (with one full day off per week), I'm making progress.
Thanks for all your great posts--I'm NEVER disappointed!

Beverly Mahone said...

In my case, I add this one: Let your client know there's a little one in the house in case of distractions. I do try to get as much done as I can while he's at daycare but when he's home and I still have work to do, I feel it's important to let my client know there may be a distraction or two. It may not work for everyone though.