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Starting a small business from home Top tips from Catherine Erdly

Whether you find yourself bursting with small business ideas, think that you’ve spotted a gap in the market or are simply just tired of the 9 to 5 and are ready for a change, starting a small business from home can seem like the perfect option – but it’s not without its challenges and a steep learning curve. In this blog I share my top tips for starting a small business from home that will help you take your ideas, passion, and excitement and turn them into a reality.

Start Small

There is a real hunger from customers to buy less, but buy better and small businesses are well-positioned to take advantage of this new wave of conscious consumerism. Starting a small business from home means you can start small, tapping into the values of this type of customer, whilst putting in place what it takes to build a resilient retail business that is both rewarding and profitable.

Keep Costs Low

One of the huge benefits of starting a small business from home is being able to keep costs low. Without the overheads of a bricks and mortar store your initial outlay will already be lower.  Other ways to keep costs down are plenty – for example – set up an Instagram account for your small business, it really has become a go to place for shoppers searching for those unique products from independents and you can administer payments via DMs – simple! My blog post ‘How To Start A Small Business When You Don’t Have Any Money’ will give you many more tips on saving money when you’re just starting out.

Define Your Niche

In some ways defining your industry or niche is the first step to starting your small business – whether it’s selling clothes, biscuits or homewares – you need to carve out your unique space in that area.

Once you have a shortlist of your business ideas interrogate them with questions like below:

·      What products do people buy the most?

·      Do you have a target audience for a particular product?

·      Who are your competitors on the market?

·      Do you have good knowledge of products?

Know Your Story

Storytelling is a crucial factor in marketing and it’s how savvy businesses right now are connecting with their customers. Being able to tell the story of how you came up with your product idea, or your small business idea, or what the small business and products mean to you is critical in reaching the modern consumer.

You know your story right? Have you practiced saying it out loud? Can you tell your story passionately and succinctly to a range of audiences? from customers to bank managers to suppliers to competitors? Does it convey your vision, your passion and your determination to succeed? Know this and you’ll be bouncing with confidence. My podcast episode’ ‘Sharing your journey with Manmeet Sokhi’ is helpful for this.

Know your audience

Really know your market, do the work, the research – know who you are serving and what solution you are providing for them. Learn what makes your customers excited, joyful, frustrated – what makes them tick and never stop that learning. Become the most customer orientated small business owner in your product area and you will feel like anything is possible.

Know your competitors

It’s absolutely key that you know who your competitors are, what their niche is and how you complement or compete with them. That knowledge will build your confidence in understanding the whole market you are working within. And there are likely lots of collaboration opportunities amongst your competitors – so don’t shy away from them – get to know them!

Be a digital diamond

It goes without saying – if you’re starting a small business from home you’ll need to get online. You’ll need to use social media platforms to your advantage – you can even accept payments via Instagram for example.  You will also need to set up a website for your small business from the outset. Many companies offer a free basic website package to get you started.

The statistics speak for themselves – more than 63% of small businesses have a website, and around 80% of people research a website on Google before making a purchase.

According to Statista, there are over 5 billion active internet users. Therefore, it is essential to create a user-friendly, responsive, and easy-to-navigate business website. After all it’s your gateway to your audience and there’s to you!

Set yourself realistic goals

The list will be a long one. There will be times you’re spinning lots of plates. So set yourself realistic goals – there will be ‘non negotiables’ that have to be completed before you launch but there will be many ‘nice to haves’. Separate those out and set realistic goals and timeframes. If you have a plan, with goals and a timeline you’ll feel much more in control than if you just try to complete ‘everything’ – control means productivity which means confidence! I talk about more about this in my podcast episode ‘Six Steps To Being More Productive’.

Find a good accountant

Find an accountant who has experience in small businesses, preferably small product businesses, and you will find a valuable partner for your small business. Although it is likely that you will be best off starting out as a sole trader and becoming a limited company further down the line, a good accountant will be able to give you the answer the this and many more crucial questions. Even though you have to pay for their advice, you may well make your money back in tax savings. If nothing else, you’ll have the peace of mind that everything is being handled correctly, and that is priceless.

Celebrate your successes

All of them! When you’re starting out on your own you will have lots of successes that may go unnoticed without someone else to say ‘well done’, you have to take on this role. Each win is worthy of a celebration so make sure that you do! Good Luck!

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