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Eight Paths to Homebased Business Success

Building your business empire from home? These management tips will keep you on top of your game.

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Leaving corporate America to run a homebased business is theideal situation for many people: There's no boss breathing downyour neck, no boring meetings to attend and no 45-minute drives inrush hour traffic. Working from home can be a rewarding experience,but it's easy to forget the basic rules of running a successfulbusiness when it's 10 hours of just you, your computer and thedistractions of home.

To help you stay on track, we've contacted homebasedbusiness expert Rosalind Resnick, CEO of Axxess Business CentersInc., a New York small-business consulting firm. Resnick is aformer business journalist who has regularly contributed herexpertise to Entrepreneur.com. She's put together eight helpfultips for keeping your homebased business running smoothly.

  • Structure your day. The problem a lot of homebasedbusiness owners have is that they no longer have a boss standingover them making sure they get their work done, or a tangible startand end of each workday. It's easy to let time slip by as youhead to the refrigerator, catch a few minutes of TV, or dive into aproject first thing in the morning, neglecting the other tasks youneed to perform to keep your business running smoothly.

Create a structure that mimics what you had in the workplace.Structure your day so you have a start and finish time, withcertain hours set aside for specific activities. A general rule isto spend the first hour of the day prospecting for new clients.Send your emails, write your letters and make your phone callsfirst thing so you don't forget to do it later.

Use Outlook or some sort of contact management software to serveas a visual reminder of what you need to accomplish that day. Liveand die by your to-do-list. Try to have everything crossed off bythe end of the day. Even my own children know that if they want meto do something for them during working hours, they have to put iton my to-do-list or it will never get done.

  • Stay connected. Carry an organizer wherever you go. Ifyou're still using a day planner or similar dinosaur, considerupgrading to a Blackberry or other high-tech gadget. You don'tneed to go crazy and spend a lot of money, but invest wisely insomething that will hold everything you need and allow you toinstantly access it on the go. Another good idea is to not keep allof your information in one location, such as the hard drive of yourhome computer. Keep your data hosted on a virtual exchange serverso you can access it anywhere that has an Internet connection. Abig misconception about homebased business owners is that they stayat home all day, everyday. And as you know, that's just notalways true.
  • Organize your family time. Once your professional lifeis organized, you may need to consider organizing your personallife. Maybe you noticed right away, or maybe it's just becomingapparent, that you tend to work around the schedule of your familymembers. This is especially true if you have children. A lot ofpeople, especially young moms, decide that they're going toquit their jobs in corporate America and work from home in order tocare for their children and save on daycare expenses. But inreality, if you're serious about running a homebased businessand earning a decent income, you're going to have to makearrangements for childcare in or outside the home. Otherwise itbecomes too distracting. Consider hiring a babysitter so you'reguaranteed five to six solid hours to get your work done.
  • Motivate yourself. Sit down and set some goals foryourself. You no longer have quarterly reviews or progress reports,so it's important to keep track of whether or not you'remaking progress in your business. It's one thing to set smallgoals like completing your to-do-list--you also have to set goalsto motivate yourself to succeed. Hopefully by now you're makingas much, if not more, money at your homebased business than youwere at your former job. If you aren't, begin by setting a goalto bring in the same amount of income you were, and slowly raisethe bar to increase your income by a couple of thousand a month.Once you've met a goal, make time to reward yourself by doingsomething fun, which brings us to the next tip.
  • Take time out for good behavior. It's not uncommonto find yourself working 60- to 70-hour weeks. But the good thingis, if you want to sneak out and see a movie at two in theafternoon, nobody's going to tell you not to do it. You havethat freedom and flexibility as a home business owner. It can betempting to work all the time when you start seeing how successfulyour business has become, but know when to relax. You'vealready established a smooth-running business. Take a break everynow and then so you don't get burned out.
  • Be a Jack-of-all-trades. There are a lot of roles youplay as a homebased business owner: You're the CEO, president,secretary, office manager and tech support. Learn the basic skillsof running an office, including how to troubleshoot somerudimentary technical problems. You don't need to become anexpert, but make sure you have a basic understanding of techsupport issues, bookkeeping, etc. Otherwise it will become tooexpensive to have to pay someone to do everything for you.
  • Network. Network with other homebased business owners ineither a formal or informal setting. This is a good way to findservice providers, leads and potential clients. Surroundingyourself with people who also work from home will give you thesupport you need, and refer you to people who can help you growyour business.
  • Consider moving out of your home. For a lot of people,working from home is a launching pad. In the beginning, manybusiness owners work from home in order to keep overhead low. Ifyou have more than one person with different roles working fromyour home office, you should ideally be working in separate rooms.It can be difficult having two people work side by side, even ifthose two people are spouses and love each other very much.It's distracting for anyone to have someone three feet awayfrom you talking on the phone. Be prepared for expansion. At thepoint when your business becomes so successful that you cannotefficiently work close together, start considering moving youroffice outside the home.

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