There are a lot of things you can do for your home business. Unfortunately, there are many things that sound as though they will help your business grow but are in fact pretty much useless, sometimes even damaging.
Most of these things you must spend some time on in order for your home business to succeed. It’s when you take them to extremes that they become damaging. Know your limits. You’ll do better.
1. Excessive Use Of Social Media/Social Bookmarking Sites
Social media use is a must for online businesses these days. It’s one of the best ways to bring attention to your website and what you have to offer. But there are limits to how much you should do with them.
The first reason for this is that a good social media website can be a huge time suck. The more social ones such as Facebook may tempt you into interacting with family and friends when you should be working, while sites such as Pinterest may catch your attention with ideas you may never use. They’re each useful in their own way, but you have to think about how you’re using your time on them.
Just plain social bookmarking can take a tremendous amount of time. There are literally hundreds of social bookmarking sites out there. Most of them won’t provide any significant traffic or search engine relevance and are a total waste of time. They may even be damaging, as Google sees them as low quality sites.
If you want to make the most of social media and social bookmarking, know which sites are best for generating traffic for your business and focus your efforts on them. The best sites will generate traffic for you, and if your shares are interesting, others will share them with their audience as well. It takes time to build an interested, involved audience, but it’s worth the effort.
Pinterest, for example, is a hugely popular site right now. It’s almost more of a search engine than a bookmarking site, but you have to submit your content for anything to happen, and that content needs some degree of popularity to drive more than minor traffic.
Use the right tools to simplify your social media use. Tools such as Hootsuite, Tailwind, and Buffer can make it much easier to plan out your social media use effectively. When you’re done, close them so they aren’t a temptation.
2. Spending Too Much Time On Email
Email is another one of those things that can be vitally important to your business yet be a huge time waster. You need to be ready to respond to questions when clients have them, but you shouldn’t be spending large parts of your day reading your email.
You can consider handing off many emails to a virtual assistant or have response templates for the most common questions you receive. Either can save you a lot of time with your email, so you don’t have to take much time with routine questions and can focus on the ones that need a more carefully considered answer.
Another important thing to do with your email is to unsubscribe from all the junk. If you have tons of emails that just sit unread in your inbox, think about why. Is it a newsletter that doesn’t really interest you?
I keep some control over my inbox by using filters to sort out emails by type. This limits what falls into my main inbox. It also allows me to see which emails I’m tending to ignore and that I should therefore unsubscribe from. I sort out email from shopping sites, political emails, newsletters and so forth. Business emails are sorted by which site of mine they’re relevant to.
3. Working Too Hard
It’s easy to overwork when you work at home. You’re setting your own rules, and you may need to earn a lot to make it all worthwhile. You may have set some highly challenging goals for yourself. You tell yourself that the more you work, the more you’ll earn. But that’s not necessarily true.
Take a break and improve your focus and productivity. Working too long makes you less productive, not more. Many people find a break helpful to get past a mental block or to come up with new ideas.
One thing you may find helpful is to set up a work at home schedule for yourself. Give yourself the kind of routine you would have in an outside the home job. Do your best to stick with it.
Will there be times when you need to work incredibly long hours to make your home business a success? Probably. Just make sure that you take enough time for yourself that you don’t burn out.
4. Doing It All Yourself
When you’re running a home business, it’s easy to feel that you have to do it all. It saves money, or so it seems. It saves the trouble of training someone to help you.
Hiring someone to help you with certain parts of your home business, however, can be worthwhile. It’s not always convenient and it’s not always cheap, but it can improve your profits. Why spend so much time on the things that don’t really earn money for you if you can pay someone else to do it? This allows you to focus more on things that will make money.
This is one of those things I don’t do enough of, and I know it. It’s difficult to change or give up a bit of control. It’s worrying that someone else won’t do the work right. Sometimes I’ve hired something out and it has gone well. Other times it has been a bit of a mess.
Take a look at hiring a virtual assistant for routine emails and other matters that don’t need your personal attention. Finding the right one and training him or her in what you need done takes time, but it should be worth it in the long run.
5. Doing Excessive Research
There’s so much to learn when you run a business from your home. It’s easy to spend too much time trying to learn how to run your business better, and too little time actually running it.
It’s much more important to take action than to keep learning things you aren’t ready to use. Don’t spend a lot of time reading up on things for your business that you aren’t ready to act upon.
This is also why you shouldn’t buy a course for something you want to learn until you’re ready to learn it. If the course is all that useful, it will still be there later. But if you buy now, you may well go onto something else rather than ever use the course.
Guess which path wastes money!
If I’m considering taking a course but I’m not ready for it right then, I bookmark it. I can then find it if I want it, but haven’t spent any money.
Another trap is browsing unrelated sites when you’re looking for information. It’s easy to follow links to things you don’t need to read during your work hours. Save the random reading for your spare time, not when you need to work.
My best suggestion is to set aside a specific amount of time for research. How much time depends on what you need to learn.
If you’re going to take an online course, for example, you might set aside an hour a day to work on it.
On the other hand, you might set aside several hours if you’re doing research for a highly detailed article. It takes time to find the highest quality information to write an amazing article, and you don’t want to skimp on the research when that’s the case.
6. Working For Free
Sometimes you will have people or companies try to get you to work for them for free. They’ll call it good exposure or something like that. Truth be told, it’s often not worth the effort to work for free.
There can be times that working for free is okay, but only on your own terms. You might volunteer for a cause you believe in. You might write a guest post for a website that will get you exposure to an audience you need to get in front of.
Where this goes wrong is working for free on someone else’s terms. They contact you and suggest you do something for them for free. For example, some companies will get bloggers to host giveaways for little to no pay, even though this can be a lot of work. Companies might ask you to promote the giveaway, maintain contact with the winner and ship the prize to the winner. You have to track entries, deal with problems relating to entries, and make sure the winner qualifies for the prize.
You can request payment for running a giveaway – it’s a great advertising opportunity for the sponsor too. Make up a media kit for your blog so that it is easier for advertisers to see your policies.
7. Striving For Perfection
This is a mistake so many people make when starting a home business. They want everything to be utterly perfect before they even get started, and continue on that path as they go.
I know someone who wants to start a resource website on a particular topic, for example. He has been talking about it for years, but nothing has ever happened with it. Why?
He wants to have a ton of pages ready first. His topic is huge and he wants his site to be fairly comprehensive right from the start. This is a mistake. He’s put work in on it but gotten nothing for it because he hasn’t published the site yet, so far as I know.
It’s better to start small and grow. This gives people time to discover you. It gives you time to make beginner’s mistakes while your business is small and few people will notice.
If you monetize from the start, it gives you the possibility of some income coming in as you build. This also limits the frustration of feeling as though you aren’t getting anywhere – traffic takes time to build, but you’ll always have something to work on, something to work on to make your home business reach the goals you have set for it.
You can also get caught by this in little ways every day. I’ve caught myself many times spending way too much time picking out just the right image for a post, then just the right font for the text on the image… the time all this takes adds up. Relax a little about these details. You want everything to look good, but when the differences are small, who else will know what options you considered, or judge you for it?
8. Working in the Kitchen
Lots of people who work at home don’t have a home office space. It’s a bit of a luxury to give over that bit of space dedicated to your work, and it may be difficult to make that commitment. But if it’s at all possible, it’s a very, very good idea.
Working at the kitchen table or in the living room, or even in your bedroom means you are surrounded by more distractions, and this impacts your productivity. I speak from experience here, having worked in all those spaces. The bedroom has the advantage of being a space where you can close the door, but it’s probably not that functional as a workspace unless you have a desk in there.
Having a dedicated home office space also means you can consider taking the home office deduction in your taxes. This is something you would want to consult on with your tax professional – don’t ask me if your situation is right for that because I don’t know. The money off can help if your situation merits it.
If you can’t dedicate a space as your home office, don’t despair. You aren’t doomed to failure.
Find the best place to work in your home that you can, the quieter the better. The fewer distractions you have, the more productive you will probably be.
If you have no choice but to work in a distracting space, make sure your family knows what you need from them. Cooperation from the other people in your home can help you beat such challenges.
9. Being Disorganized
Being disorganized is a huge failing of mine. I’m working on it.
Make some time to organize your home office, whatever that space may be.
Even if you don’t have a dedicated home office space, you can take some time to organize all of the things you need in order to have a productive workday. Make sure all your work stuff is neatly stored and can be easily reached while you’re working.
Getting organized takes time and commitment. It’s not just getting organized, it’s staying organized. The good part is that once you have a good system down, it’s easier to remain organized. You’ll save time in the long run by taking time now to figure out what works for you.