So many parents I know are trying to do the same thing I am: have their own business so they can be at home when they need to be, have a flexible schedule and still make money. It’s a noble cause but one that takes extreme discipline and dare I say…organization. Here are my five basic steps for organizing your home-based business.
1. Set Your Hours – Figure out when you like to work and when it’s convenient for your family. This might depend on the age of your children and what your spouse does for a living. Don’t make the mistake of letting your customers dictate your schedule. Many new entrepreneurs say, “I’ll do any job whenever someone will hire me.” That can cause a lot of chaos and stress. If you clearly state your hours on your websites you will find clients that are open those hours. Also, make your family aware of when you work so they don’t expect you to be at their beck and call either.
2. Keep finances separate and simple – When you start a business, you should open your own bank account for that business and a credit card account for the same. This will help keep your income and expenses separate from your personal ones. Enter these numbers in Quick Books or an Excel Spreadsheet once a month. Also have a guideline for percentages of what you need to pay taxes, what you can take as an income, what you want to put back into the business. Here’s an example:
- 25% for taxes
- 30% back into the business
- 30% to your savings
- 15% for your personal draw or pay.
Play around with those percentages and tailor them to your needs and financial situation. Then each month when you do your books take out the savings and pay and put into the appropriate accounts so you don’t overspend for the business.
3. Provide excellent customer service – Your customers are the bread and butter of your business so keep them in mind always! Return calls or emails within 24 hours even if it’s to say, I got your message and I’m working on an answer. Send out a newsletter once a month and offer a special discount 4 times a year. Reward customers who give you referrals.
4. Create an office that’s productive – You’ll need
- shelves for inventory or books
- A desk with drawers for supplies and files
- Open desk space for doing your actual work.
- An “In-bin” or “TO DO bin” right on your desk so it’s always obvious what’s next on your list.
- A bulletin board above the desk for urgent reminders or posting long term goals for motivation!
5. Track how you are getting your clients – A simple spreadsheet will do for keeping track of all your customers. Make a column for how they found you. This will help you evaluate all your advertising and marketing. If one has not brought results, drop it. If another brings you great results, keep going with it or increase it. Evaluate these at least every six month.
Finally, when you get in a rut in your office, take the time to clean it out & straighten it up. Don’t just close the door and move your stuff to another room. Take your laptop with you if you need a change of scenery. This may do wonders for your concentration. I often move my laptop when I am working on a creative project like writing or designing a new talk. But at the end of the day, it all goes back in the office and everything is in its place.
Do you have a question about organizing your home based business? Ask me here.