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Here’s How To Run A Business From Home

Here’s How To Run A Business From Home

Having a home-based business is a growing trend, but keeping it organized may be difficult for some. Each simple tip included in this blog post explores new and unique solutions to help business owners improve their business. The tips below will help you create a firm foundation for your business, while giving you proven information to help you plan and grow.

Being a business owner from home might not be easy, but it can be a very successful form of entrepreneurship. According to the Census Bureau, more than half of businesses in the United States are home-based. Some of the most recognized brands like Apple, Ford Motor Company, and Mary Kay Cosmetics all started as home-based businesses. Here are five tips that will help you develop, grow, maintain your business from home:

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1. Keep Work-Life Balanced with a Dynamic Working Environment

Creating the right working environment will be pivotal to your success as home-based entrepreneur. First, you should find a place that is quiet and separate from the living areas of your home, so that you aren’t distracted when working. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, turn it into your office. Make sure it is equipped with all of the tools, technology, and resources you will need to keep your business organized and efficient. Try to keep your work area as a place for work-related activities only.

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  • Plan time away from home. If you are an author, you might try spending time at a Starbuck or some place similar writing where you can sit comfortably. I like to schedule my time on Sunday afternoons and write for 3-6 hours.
  • Balance out your life by doing something that’s opposite of what you do in your business. If you are analytical in your business (i.e., programming, accounting), then do something creative in your downtime. For instance, I’m a web developer and in my downtime, I like to write paranormal romance novels.

2. Build a Stronger Business with a Virtual Assistant

Understanding that you can’t do everything on your own is one the most important lessons entrepreneurs must learn. Hiring a virtual assistant to help with tasks that need to be completed for your business can be very beneficial. VAs can be found using services like UpWork.com, which connects businesses with independent contractors. Delegate small to moderate tasks to your VA, so that you can focus your energy on accomplishing major objectives for your business.

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  • Create a list of team members that you will need to keep your business strong and that you are open to outsourcing some of your tasks to.
  • Use services like Freelancer.com or Upwork.com to find virtual team members. You can post jobs that would help your business grow. When you choose specific tasks that you want to outsource, you can assign them to your virtual team members.
  • If you choose to use Google Apps, set up generic email address such as support1@yourdomain.com so that you can reuse the email addresses in case you have a team member who needs to be replaced. Then you can just change the password for the new team member to use.

3. Stick to a schedule

Plan a work schedule that you can stick to. Try to start and end your day at the same time so that you can become accustomed to focusing strictly on getting work done for your business during those hours. Online tools like Google Calendar, Asana.com, and Teamwork.com can help you set deadlines for task and plan your work days. There are only so many hours in a day, so time management is a vital skill to grasp.

  • Set business hours that work well with you keeping a work-life balance. When you have set hours, you, your team, and your clients will understand when you are available for business.
  • Keep your team members abreast of any changes in your schedule. Especially if you have a personal assistant, you can share your calendar with them. By keeping them in the loop about your changes, it will help them manage your calendar better.

4. Use tools that can help your grow your home-based business

There are many tools available to home-based business owners that can help your business run smoothly. One resource is The Small Business Administration (SBA), which offers business owners tools to help get businesses off the ground, including developing a business plan. Google is another resource that offers assistance to business owners. Below are a couple of the resources that can help you research your industry, and even connect with others via startup communities.

  • Check out the business plan building tool that the SBA offers to help you Build Your Business Plan. The SBA Business Plan Builder will help you map out your business step-by-step. In fact, the SBA will also teach you how to manage and grow your home-based business.
  • Use Think With Google (TWG) to do deep research for your specific industry. You will find that they can provide data research, trends analysis, forward-looking perspectives and behind-the-scenes looks at digital campaigns — across industries, platforms and audiences.
  • Checkout the startup communities provided by Google For Entrepreneurs website. Their focus is to create startup communities for entrepreneurs where they can learn and work.

5. Operate your business as a legal entity

According to the SBA, registering your business name is a key step to legally operating your business, and will allow you to receive certain aid from the government. Once you’ve established your business as a legal entity, you should be able to access any federal and state licenses and permits you will need to run your business. To learn about the law and regulations that may pertain to your business, visit the SBA’s website at sba.gov. These five tips will help you grow your business and keep you from being overwhelmed by your home-based business.

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CEO/Business Visibility Strategist

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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