Running your own business from home can be a financially and creatively rewarding endeavor. The key is to make sure from the get-go that your business idea is properly researched and assessed. This gives you the best chance at succeeding because you address issues and challenges up front before you’re too far along in your venture.

The following are 10 tips for successfully establishing your home-based business:

1. Ascertain your legal structure.

Most businesses run from home are sole proprietorships. However, some are not. Determine what yours is and decide if you should have classification as a partnership, an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or something else. Moreover, investigate whether you need any special insurance to protect your business and its material goods.

2. Research license or permit requirements

Check whether your city/town and municipality require you to have a special license or permit to operate your business from home. Follow all the rules and regulations regarding establishing your venture. This protects you from fines and such and highlights that you’re a business professional who does everything above-board.

3. Have a dedicated work space

The reason for this is to lend professionalism to your business. In essence, your dedicated work space is ‘just for work’. It’s not a place where you watch TV, play video games, or lounge with your favorite magazine. It’s a space dedicated to working creatively and productively to grow your home business.

4. Research and target a specific niche audience

Most home-based businesses try not to be everything to everyone. That’s a Costco or Walmart mentality that is hard to maintain with a small business. Instead, focus on a particular niche market and direct your promotional and marketing efforts to this group of potential customers. A niche market for a home-based business selling gift baskets may be gift baskets directed at small offices that managers can order to reward first-rate employees each month.

5. Have consistent messaging

In other words – build your brand. ‘Brand’ is a 21st century buzzword, however ‘branding’ does allow you to present your business in a consistent manner. This means consistent visually and with the written word, across all channels. This includes online advertising, on social networks, in your brochures, flyers, pamphlets, catalogs, local newspaper ads, and correspondence (sales letters and coupon packs, and more).

6. Commit to being organized

Working in an organized manner makes you efficient and saves you money. Have your paper files organized and easy to retrieve. The same goes for your computer files – and back these files up in case of data loss or breaches. Have a to-do list for each day – with the most important tasks at the top of your work priority list. Then get to it and effectively grow your home business.

7. Take advantage of free services

You want to keep your overhead (operating expenses) down when running a small business. Therefore, leverage any free services available to you. This runs the gamut from free advertising sites to free shopping sites that allow you to list your products. An example of this is Google Shopping. With Google Shopping you can submit your products to a shopping feed at no charge.

8. Link up with others

Businesses do not operate in a vacuum. You have to let people know who you are and what you have that is helpful to them. Consequently, use the social networks and also consider any trade, business, and professional organizations applicable to you in your region. In this way, you develop relationships and present yourself and your business as professional and worthy of enquiry.

9. Be a regular communicator

Have a plan in place to regularly communicate with your customers and also any suppliers you use. This ensures you keep your customers informed and it lets them know they’re important to you. You also learn a lot from customers when you dialog with them regularly. Keeping open lines of communication with suppliers ensures a quality relationship with them and often even preferential treatment from them.

10. Have a customer service plan

As is often and rightly espoused, customers are the lifeblood of your business. From the start, institute a comprehensive customer service plan designed to keep a loyal customer base. Focus this plan on serving your customers during and after the sale.

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