|Thanks to Gobala Krishnan
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
One Monday, I got up at 9.30am, enjoyed my slow bath and long breakfast,
read the morning paper (not just the headlines) and finally entered my
"office" at 11:00 a.m. No stares, no sarcastic remarks, and
no reprimands. I felt so focused and energized, as if the morning breeze
itself had lifted my spirits and breathed young, new life into my soul.
For the first time, I finally felt how it was like to be the master of
your own destiny; to be the captain of your own ship. I felt what it was
like to be a home-based entrepreneur working for what my heart wanted
to pursue, not for unrealistic figures in a budget I didn't care for.
I read in the papers about the newly completed train project that stretches
over 700 miles from Qinghai (China) to Lhasa (Tibet), dubbed one of the
most amazing engineering feats of the new millennium. I searched the Internet
for some pictures and was amazed by what I saw. I then marked three weeks
off the calendar. I knew I had to go there. This time, unlike the
past, I didn't need to ask anyone's permission. No leave forms, no lame
excuses to keep you at work, and no cancellations.
Although "working at home in your underwear" is a much abused
cliché, as a home based business entrepreneur, you'll begin to
realize how fulfilling and motivating it can be to be your own boss, set
your own goals, and work in line with your passion or what you really
want to do in life. However, if you're not careful, you'll end up doing
nothing and will soon be reluctantly seeking another J.O.B when your home-based
business dream turns into a nightmare.
Here are some tips to avoid "home business disaster," work
at home productively, and achieve your goals in record time:
Your Home Office
As the nucleus of your home-based business, setting up and organizing
your home office can be the key to your success:
- Learn to separate work from playAlthough working at home is
fun, you must learn to mentally separate your work from your personal
life. Otherwise you'll get it mixed up and both will suffer. Do not
put too many personal things in your working space and vice versa.
- Separate the "home" from the "office"Yes,
you have a home office or a SOHO (Small Office Home Office) as it's
popularly called. But you need to physically separate the two. For this
reason, it is never a good idea to put your office in your bedroom or
share it with any other room. If you have a small living space and can't
afford a separate room, do what I do. Just determine which part of your
hall or living area to convert to your home office, and mentally draw
a "line" separating it from the rest of the room. You can
also put full or partial partitions if you want.
- Separate entrance is bestIf you can afford it, create a separate
door or entrance into your home office. This is especially useful if
you expect a lot of clients at home.
- Create wireless networkingCables are messy and troublesome.
If you have more than one PC just use wireless routers and create a
wireless environment in your home.
- Be fully equipped for businessTechnology has made things cheap,
so make full use of it. I personally use the TelExtreme VoIP service
that gives me unlimited calls to local, domestic and international fixed
and mobile phones for a flat rate. I use Skype when I travel with my
notebook and use it to automate all incoming phone calls, record messages
and send them to my email (you can learn more on how to do this with
my e-book on Internet Telephony). You could also get a 3-in-1 fax, copier
and scanner for under RM800! You can't afford to have an ill-equipped
home office if you're serious about making the type of income you dreamt
Business Management & Productivity
When you are a "one-man-show" small business dreaming of doing
multi-million dollar big business, you'll definitely need these tips:
- Set your working hoursThe number one mistake people make is
thinking they can work whenever they feel like it. This can backfire,
so make sure you set regular working hours such as 10.00 am to 5.00 pm
and stick to it as much as you can. Of course since YOU are the boss
now, you can set your time as you like, and you can always adjust a
little here and there.
- Have an efficient follow-up systemUse email auto-responders,
voice message recorders and even toll-free numbers to manage inquiries
and follow-ups. This would free up tons of your time and also help you
to focus on planning your next strategic business moves instead of being
a phone operator.
- Don't get distractedIf you use email notification software (like
Gmail Notifier) or instant message services like Yahoo Messenger or
MSN Messenger, turn all these off during work hours. Don't be checking
your email throughout the day, as it DOES NOT help you be focused. Instead,
dedicate a few hours in the morning or evening to answer emails. If
you find that the bulk of your daily time is spent looking at emails,
then you're having the wrong strategy and focusing on the wrong priorities.
Finance & Profitability
When you stop getting a paycheck at the end of the month, it can be both
the most exciting and most terrifying thing at the same time. Here are
some tips to avoid financial black holes:
- Be debt free firstIf you want to start your own home-based
business, but you're already straddled with huge amounts of credit card
debts and loan repayments, make sure you clear all or a significant
part of it first. It's too risky carrying around all that debt on your
shoulders when you start a business, where there is no safety net and
fixed income to protect you.
- Correct any financial "bad habits"If you run a credit
card debt by spending lavishly, you need to correct this first before
going full time in your own home-based business. It really doesn't matter
how much money you can make by working at home. All that matters is
how much money you keep at the end of the day.
- Don't be afraid to explore new sources of incomeThere are more
ways to make money out there than you can possibly imagine. Don't dismiss
any opportunity without thoroughly researching it, or you could be missing
out on the opportunity to retire richer, earlier! I once ignored trying
out paid autosurf programs simple because I was too lazy to study it.
Two years down the road I realized that I passed up the opportunity
to add an additional RM2,000 monthly to my income. Don't do the same
- Plan and monitor your cash flowIf you don't want to get up one
day to find your wallet and bank account completely empty, plan your
cash flow. Make a list of payments you will be receiving and the expenses
you need to make. As an employee, the company plans WHEN and WHERE you
get your money, but as an entrepreneur, you need to learn to master
cash flow. Don't confuse "cash flow" with profits, since you
can go broke even if your business is profitable but you don't see any
real money in your bank account.
- Aim for profitability before expansionMake sure your business
is profitable before you actually decide to go full time. If you need
to spend more on your business than what you make, you are in a dangerous
zone. If your home business is not profitable yet, you should have a
back up plan to support your expenses, and you could consider part-time
jobs to pay the bills.
- Focus on residual incomeIf you make RM3,000 a month but need
to work for 6 hours a day, it would be better if you hired someone to
do the bulk of the job and only get RM500 for yourself. Even though
it's less, this now becomes part of your residual income, i.e. income
that you get without working. You now have the time to explore other
sources of income instead of being tied-up to daily routines. Think
like a business owner, not like an employee.
Swatting The Loneliness Bug
When all your friends are busy slugging at their 9-to-5 jobs and you're
at home with lots of time on your hands, the truth is it can get pretty
lonely. Here are some tips to overcome your post-employment loneliness:
- Don't limit yourself to any locationIf you ONLY work at home,
then your situation is not much better than it used to be when you struggled
for your former company. If you have a laptop or notebook, then you're
already as mobile' as it gets, so explore your options! Work in
the library, at Starbucks, in the park, on the beach, by the swimming
pool, or anywhere else where it's quiet and relaxing enough. After all,
what's the point of having your own home-based business if you don't
enjoy the perks?
- Invite friends over for lunchEven if you can't or don't cook,
invite friends over for lunch. At least you'll have some company, and
you'll get to see the look of envy on their faces when lunch break's
over for them.
- Host parties and networking sessionsNow that you're your own
boss, you actually have the time and freedom to plan stuff like this.
A simple barbeque dinner can help you re-establish bonds with your old
friends and create tons of useful referrals.
- Join network marketingEven if your home-based business is not
centered on network marketing, do join one with a reputable company.
This will put you in a situation where you meet tons of new people every
day and some of them will eventually become your new business partners
or even newfound friends.
Marketing and Promotion
Your home business is NOT about YOU. It's about everyone else around
you, how you connect to others and let them see the value that your business
- What's your Instant Impact MessageMost small or home business
owners can't describe their business in one sentence. Even when they
do, it speaks nothing of the uniqueness of their business. "I do
internet marketing" is a statement that does nothing to promote
your business to others. Instead, if you say "I help small businesses
with low budgets find unlimited clients over the Internet using affordable
and simple solutions" then you now have a value statement'
that will stick in the minds of others even when they sleep. Having
your own Instant Impact Message is the toughest, and most important
thing you can do to successfully market your business. Don't describe
what you do describe the value that others can get from YOU.
- Don't forget the power business cardsIf you used to hand out
business cards to clients in your former company, why stop now? Business
cards are a cheap and good way to advertise and promote. But instead
of putting useless jargon and boring titles, put in your Instant Impact
- Offer free coachingIf your business "Helps people feel
and look professional and confident by mastering communications skills"
than you can always offer free coaching to your prospective clients.
Just do a simple class where you can teach them how to speak better,
listen better etc. etc. Free coaching can help you cement your position
as an expert in your field. When people like what they get from you
for free, they are more likely to become paying customers and self-driven
marketing machines for your business.
- Maximize your local contactsSo over the years you developed
a good relationship with the owner of the restaurant right opposite
where you live. Now that you have your own business, you have to maximize
ALL the contacts you collected over the years. The people you've met
in your previous job or social functions can give you extra marketing
leverage. So talk to the restaurant guy. See if you can work out a mutually
beneficial business relationship. Everyone around you, if you know how
to do it, can help you grow your business.
About the Author: Gobala Krishnan is an author and home-business
entrepreneur (owner of Liberty Straits Solutions) based in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. His recent work, "Internet Telephony Secrets"
can help your small business leverage the power of VoIP to find never
ending streams of paying customers from all over the world and get an
unfair advantage of all your competitors. If you're in Malaysia or Singapore
and are dying to learn how he managed to quit his "small-paycheck-massive-stress"
corporate job to start his own home based business at the age of 25, go
to www.HomeBizMalaysia.com where you can get insights into the best business opportunities and sign-up
for private free-coaching that will help you get the income, respect,
freedom and satisfaction that you really deserve. Gobala is also a travel and nature fanatic and a true blue "rock
star guitarist" at heart with his band.