Creating a vision board is a great exercise to figure out what goals you want to achieve in life, but at some point it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing. Working for Modernize, I’ve learned how empowering it can be to prepare your home—and your mind—for a new career opportunity. These tips will help you turn your professional goals into reality by launching your own business.
Divide Work and Play
Working freelance from home has a whole host of benefits, like the absence of a commute, a laid-back environment, comfort, and proximity to loved ones. I will be very truthful when I say that these benefits rock. But I’ve learned that it’s essential to divide work and play from the get-go to be truly successful.
When I set up my home office, I wasn’t able to go for the literal divide. I have a small apartment, so I couldn’t block off an entire room. I decided to reserve a desk and bookshelf nook exclusively for freelance work, which worked well for me. I live alone, so I don’t have to worry about distractions and noises, other than my acrobatic cat! However, I found that I often wanted to work from bed or the couch, or even have the TV on in the background. This reserved workspace helped me stay focused.
After I reserved my workspace, I shopped for basic essentials—a cozy chair, office supplies, a printer, and plenty of notebooks and pens. I had a built-in desk, so that was an advantage, but if you don’t have one, make sure to get a desk that accommodates your profession and offers plenty of working space.
Make sure you have everything you need, so you can focus on running and growing your business instead of worrying about what you’re missing. If you do live with a family or roommates, I would suggest blocking off a room of your own, or setting up room dividers to maintain a separation between work and play. If you're selling a product like makeup or essential oils, be sure to install shelves and organizational systems to keep products organized and protected. Communicate with your loved ones that you are working on your career when you go to this space. Try to limit interruptions to emergencies only.
Create a Business Plan
Once I had my space set up, I decorated it in a way that inspired me to get started—with reminders of my passion. I lined my shelves with books and inspirational knick-knacks, like wooden signs of the words “read” and “write.” I worked my color scheme through my living room into my home office, and set up a table lamp for lighting and ambience.
When it came down to business, my first professional task was to create a business plan. I outlined my overall goals, and then broke them down into achievable actions. I wanted to earn extra income, strengthen my writing muscles, create a brand for my writing, and increase my exposure. Those are great goals, but I needed measurable and attainable steps to get there.
My first step was to set up a professional website that defined my brand as a writer. This is where clients and agents could go to see my contact information, social media platform, bio, and portfolio. Likewise, I set up a blog and made a schedule of social media posts to leverage those thriving mediums. These steps allowed me to work toward my goal of gaining exposure. I then began to search and apply for freelance jobs through referrals, job search sites, and community boards.
Creating a business plan will be different for every professional. For example, if you are selling essential oils, you may set your first goal to sell $200 in one month. In order to do this, you’d need to break that goal down. Explain how you will achieve that. Schedule the parties you need to host and calls you need to make. This technique applies to any business and will help you stay on target.
Start small and build up as your business grows. Keep your plan accessible for easy reference. You may even frame goals to display your dreams. It’s your new vision board!
Network and Get Your Name Out
Another first step I completed was creating business cards and searching for professional networking opportunities in my city. I found DFW Writer’s Conference through a writing critique group, and this introduced me to even more writers. I followed authors I liked on social media and soon found out about writing residencies and workshops in my state. Joining SCBWI also gave me access to news about agents, publishers, workshops, critiques, and mixers.
Sites like LinkedIn and alumni organizations often display information about professional mixers as well, so take advantage of those resources. Networking events are great ways to get you out of the house to tell people about your business. Always keep your business cards on you, because you never know when you’ll meet someone who needs what you offer! I once found a client through an alumni mixer, without even planning on it. It was a gentleman who ran a successful business, but hated the communications aspect of it. He was so happy to find a writer.
Once I established a list of clients, I kept their information so I could check up on them regularly. I strive to offer quality customer service and continuous support. Remember, your best marketing tool is word-of-mouth, so give everyone a great experience.
Congratulations on your new business adventure! Launching a business from home takes discipline and perseverance, but in the end, I’ve found it to be so very rewarding.