“According to research, self-employed people work harder, earn the same (or less initially), and are more stressed – but have the most job satisfaction by far, and are the happiest people.” – Fresh Living Magazine
Guest post by Marzenna Almendro, CEO of Holistan
(Marzenna Almendro posts a lot of inspiring graphics on her social media sites and truly GREAT BLOG content for small business owners so be sure to follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or visit her website.)
I remember reading the quote above shortly before I resigned from my full time job, and dived into the abyss of the unknown. That was 18 months ago. I also remember being told from another business owner that the hardest decision is resigning from your full time job. If you can do that, you can do anything. As time has passed on, I do think I have grown a bit more daring and with each new decision I need to make; I’m a little braver, and a little wiser.
But the fire that ignited it all was the birth of my precious son, Ethan. After my baby was born I thought about how I no longer wanted to be “owned” for nine hours a day, and my heart ached having to leave my precious boy at the tender age of 11 weeks old to return to my management role. The ambition to be more available, able to provide him with more, and potentially build a legacy to leave to him was all the motivation I needed to start my psychometric consultancy, Holistan. Since my business was conceived, I have never looked back.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always easy. Most small businesses fail within the first two years. Those are scary stats. But for those of us who do survive, it can be very rewarding. Here are my TOP TIPS of things you need to start doing from the beginning (or least from today), if you are serious about building a better home business!
Tip #1: Do not underestimate the power of Marketing
In my line of work, a large proportion of what I do is intangible. For example, coaching clients may take an hour of my time, but my client doesn’t leave with something they can hold. If you are in any form of consultancy business (and even if you do sell products), it’s imperative that what IS tangible, you ensure its shit-hot! In other words, your invoice, branding, the look and feel of your website, your pricelist – those are all things a person can see and potentially hold (if they print it out). Make sure your branding captures who your business is.
Secondly (and I have learned this from the corporate environment), ensure that your branding is consistent. That means that the font you decide to use is applied to your invoices, the emails you send right through to the reports you compile for clients.
Tip #2: Build credibility
Building your credibility and reputation is imperative for growth. Content Marketing is said to be the way of the future; and I absolutely believe it. Look at any successful business, and you’ll find they invest time, energy and money into providing quality content related to their business (over and above paid for advertising).
Content marketing is also great as it helps you get found on Google – but make sure you are posting your content to appropriate platforms (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram , etc.) to find your audience.
The best way to share content is by blogging and /or sending out newsletters. And it’s not as difficult as you may think. I personally use MailChimp for my monthly newsletters (free for less than 2000 subscribers), and I have a blog section on my website specifically aimed at small business owners, such as this blog post on what it takes to become an effective in your sales pitch.
Again – consistency here is key. Whether you decide to blog once a week or once a month, set a date or a deadline each month, and stick to it!
Tip #3: Social Media is a must
Gone are the days that social media is used to socialise online or play games. I’m sure you will agree there has been such an incredible shift in the faith we put in social media. For example, I am part of a group on Facebook called Mamahood Gauteng which is really a platform that allows you to discuss just about anything. I have found (myself included) that mommies rely heavily on the recommendations made from other mommies – whether it is which restaurant to eat at, what lotion to use to prevent mosquito bites, right through to who to use to bake their little one’s birthday cake. Just the other day someone was asking about psychometrics and a lady I am not even friends with on FB recommended me!
Like blogging, your social media activity needs to be consistent too. Because I am in a service industry, what I do EVERY SINGLE DAY is post inspirational quotations related to the work context. Although I don’t see tangible items, I realise that pictures are more captivating, so I always create social media images by inserting quotations onto beautiful imagery. I personally use Canva as it’s quick, free and easy to use (and you can create bucket loads of other really cool marketing materials).
**Just remember: don’t use any old image you swiped off Google; you need to have permission to use images. I use Pic Jumbo for free hi-res photos, or if you are looking for something quite specific, Dollar Photo Club is amazing and each image is only a dollar!
I do alternative these posts with links to interesting articles, photos of my team or anything else I feel my audience may find interesting. And did I mention… I do it EVERY SINGLE DAY (PS: You can schedule posts on some platforms, such as FB).
Tip #4: Business premises
Whatever line of business you are in, I am sure you’ll agree that a business space is imperative. I always used to daydream of my home office when I was employed full time. Unfortunately, with my type of work, it’s not very professional to see clients in my home (this is different if you have a completely separate office and even entrance into your workspace – and of course – the type of work you do. I, however, live in a duplex in a complex).
When I started I did not have the funds to pay for an office space that may very well sit empty most of the time, at least in the beginning. Enter… virtual office space! It’s such a phenomenal concept that works so well for me and where I am at with my business. Different providers will offer different plans, but in my case, I pay a small monthly fee to have access to a dedicated landline number, a receptionist who answers my calls in my company’s name (and simply puts the potential client through to my mobile), full use of a common workspace area, Wi-Fi, access to hot beverages, secure parking, and absolutely stunning facilities.
These surroundings create exactly the professional image I want to convey. When I do need to conduct private client meetings, I simply book a day office or the boardroom at an additional fee. Thus, I am only paying for what I use, which is a real lifesaver during those “skinny” months. What’s more, I actually PREFER going to my virtual office and sitting in the common area to work. You see, at home, there is the temptation to do the dishes, watch a show whilst eating lunch, answer the door bell (whether it’s a delivery for someone else, the municipality coming to read the meters, etc.). And BONUS! If I am travelling or need to get one of my associate to assess a client anywhere in the country (or in fact anywhere in the world) I simply log onto my online portal and book an office! Voila!
PS: I personally use Regus, but there are loads of other virtual offices spaces all around the world!
If you have the passion to love what you do at least most of the time (because there will be months that you are working with no pay cheque in return), have the motivation to get up each time you’re knocked down, the palate for the imminent ups and downs, then self-employment or owning your own business is one decision that you won’t regret.
Despite the odds, the truth is that people will naturally gravitate toward your passion and enthusiasm as they will see the love you display for what you do. Never stop learning, and never give up.
All the best brave and beautiful mommy!
Marzenna Almendro posts a lot of uplifting images on her social media sites and truly GREAT BLOG content for small business owners so be sure to follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or visit her website.