Monday, December 3, 2012

Conquering the Challenges

Anyone looking at me today would think that starting a home-based or online business is a walk in the proverbial park.  That wasn't the case.  There were many challenges along the way.  And if you are just getting started, I'm sure you are experiencing many of the same issues.

1.  Support.  The biggest challenge I had when starting out was getting people to take me seriously.  I don't mean prospective customers or clients.  I mean family and friends.  It's difficult to start a business without some support from those around you.  Support like a spouse who will walk the dogs so you can work, or a friend who will pick the kids up from school while you meet with a client.  But it is often difficult to have any credibility with those who know you best - especially if you have no prior business experience.  It took me quite a while to convince my family that I was serious about this and to show them I could be successful.  But as time went by and I didn't give up and as I slowly started actually earning an income, the belief - and the support - came.  Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do to overcome this obstacle except be persistent, be patient, share your successes, and have faith.

2.  Time.  Like me, many of you are starting your businesses part time while still working your regular job.  And if you have a family as well, then finding time to actually build your business can be challenging.  Too many will simply take time from other things like sleep or family to devote to your business.  But you can't do this forever and eventually it will take its toll and something will suffer - your health, your relationships, or the business you are trying to build.  Don't try to steal time for your business.  Simply vow to do one thing every day to move your business forward.  On days when you don't have much time, it can be a small task like reading about your niche, or placing an ad.  On days when you have more time to spare, tackle the larger tasks.  But make sure you do at least one thing EVERY day.

3.  Space.  Depending on the type of business you start, you could require some space to run it.  At the very least you will probably need some sort of office space.  The good news is that with today's technology, almost anyplace can be an office.  When I first started, I worked from a little computer desk in a corner of our bedroom.  Then we built an addition on our house and I had a loft area to use as an office.  But today, with my laptop and smartphone,  I often find I am working in my car, or the local Starbucks, or in the living room while my husband watches television.  The products I sell are mostly digital and those that aren't are shipped directly from the manufacturer so there is no space needed for inventory or storage.

4.  Knowledge.  I spent the bulk of my career as a Navy cryptologist and Russian linguist.  So when it came time to start a business of my own, I didn't exactly have a lot of experience or knowledge.  I could send email and knew my way around the internet somewhat but that was about it. 
Fortunately, there are plenty of books, classes, and online resources where you can gain the knowledge you need.  I recommend many of them in this blog and at BoomerBizCoach Recommends.

5.  Tools and Equipment.  No matter what niche you choose for your business, you will need some resources.  My business is almost exclusively online, so all I really need is a computer.  And although I resisted forever, I would now be lost without my smartphone.  Fortunately, an adequate computer can be had relatively inexpensively these days.  If you are continuing to work while you start your business, put some money aside each payday to help cover the costs of purchasing what you need until you start earning income from your business.  Or you may be able to rent what you need or borrow from friends and family.  Don't let necessities (like bills) go so you can put the money towards your business.  And don't think you have to have the top of the line gadgets while you are getting started.      

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