Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Join the Ranks of the Work at Home Professionals

Let's face it.  The economy may be getting better but most of us still aren't feeling it where it counts - in our pocketbooks.  And the unemployment rate is predicted to continue to rise in spite of the fact that we are coming out of the recession.  So, you've lost your job, the economy is still not growing, the unemployment rate is still higher than ever.  You hear that working from home is the answer to your problem.  Are you supposed to believe that?  You'd better!

Thousands of women successfully run home businesses. You can too!  It really is easier than you realize.  All you need is an idea and the desire and drive to get started.  How?  Follow my step by step process and you'll be up and running in no time.

1.  Decide what your business will be.  This is actually probably the hardest part of the whole process.  There are so many ways to make a living from home today.  The best thing to choose is something you love.  What are your interests and hobbies?  What are your skills?  Where do these - skills and interests - overlap?  That is probably your best direction when just starting out.  I love graphic design.  I'm always having great ideas for a new design for the Traveling Bob store.  But I don't know a pixel from a pasteboard, so I'm probably not going to make a living as a graphic designer.  I am a certified master trainer and coach and I love helping others.  I'm never happier than when I'm in front of a room full of people and I see the light in their eyes that says they get this.  A coaching/training/mentoring business is ideal for someone like me.  So the first rule of business success - do what you enjoy and what you are good at.

2.  Get your domain name.  You can't start a business online without one.  And you don't want to wait or you make lose it.  I had to learn this lesson the hard way.  I had ideas for several mini-sites with great names.  But I waited to purchase those domains until I was ready to launch the business.  By the time I finally got around to it, the domains were gone.  What is even more frustrating is that a couple of them aren't even being used.  They were just purchased by someone who is in the business of buying and selling domains.  I can now still purchase it if I want to pay about 10x the amount I would have paid originally.  Legal?  Yes.  Ethical?  Business is business I suppose.  However, I won't pay the amount being asked.  And if I a great idea for a domain name suddenly comes to me, I purchase it right then.  I may not do anything with it.  But for the price it costs, it's better to buy it and have it if I want it than to discover it's not available when I'm ready.  Where do you go to buy your domain name?  There are literally hundreds of places.  I use  The prices are reasonable and they are reliable. 

3.  Decide exactly what you will market.  A product?  A service?  Both?  What type of product?  An actual physical product or an infoproduct?  What type of service?  Will you offer it strictly virtually (online) or will you actually physically connect with your clients?  What about a combination of the two?  Can you offer both a product and a service? 

4.  Create your product or structure your service.  If you don't know exactly what type of product to offer, check for affiliate programs that are a good fit with your business.  If you want to design your own infoproduct and don't know how, there are loads of resources to help you.  If you need suggestions on where to get help, read my blog post on the "Top 10 Internet Marketing Gurus".  Any one of them can provide the assistance needed. 

If your business is service oriented, decide what types of services you will offer and how you will package them.  Will you provide just a single service?  Multiple services?  Will you have different packages and fees?   

5.  Build your website.  If you know computers at all and have the time and patience, you can build your own.  If not, there are plenty of template-based applications available.  My favorite is Site Build It! because it works, even if you're like me and know nothing about web design.  Or you can hire a professional web designer.  No matter how you do it, though, get a site up.  Even if it's just a blog to start while you build your actual site. 

6.  Choose your host.  Once again, there are lots of choices.  If you use Site Build It! to create your site, they will also host it for you.  If you have chosen some other means of building your site, then you will have to decide which hosting service is best for you.  Research what's available and make your choice based on which service best suits your needs.  Not sure?  Ask.  If you know someone with a site you like and you trust their opinion, ask for a recommendation.

7.  Promote, promote, market, market.  The coolest site and greatest product or service in the world won't make a bit of difference if no one knows how to find you.  Become a master at "tooting your own horn" and driving traffic to your site.  Once again, if you don't know how, there are tons of resources to help you learn.  Study this blog.  Check out those "marketing gurus" I mentioned earlier.  Read.  And read some more.  And then most importantly - put what you have learned into practice.  If you make a mistake, that's okay.  You learned something.  As one of my favorite internet geniuses, Mike Litman, says, "You don't have to get it right.  You just have to get it going."  Or in the words of Bob The Teacher, "Take Action. Revise Later."  You can always come back and fix or revise what isn't working.  But if you don't try something, you'll be right where you were when you started - nowhere. 

Follow these seven steps and you will soon join the ranks of the work at home professionals.  Find your passion.  Match it to your skills.  Plan your business.  Work your plan.  And market, market, market.  Maybe one day you'll make my Top 10 list!