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9 Mistakes Most Home Business Owners Make

9 Mistakes Most Home Business Owners Make

Are you a home business owner or thinking about working for yourself and starting a home based business? If so, then you have to read the following mistakes that most home business owners make. These mistakes can cause many home businesses to fail within the first year.

1. They Treat Their Job As A Hobby

Most people who want to start a home business are looking for an escape of the daily grind. Of course the idea is awesome, but you need to keep in mind that a home business still takes a lot of work. If you are going to treat your home based business as a hobby, then you might as well keep your day job, because you won’t be making a lot of money to cover your bills.

Examples of treating business like a hobby:

– Sleeping in instead of waking up on time.
– Not completing all of the scheduled tasks.
– Going out with friends during set work hours.

2. They Don’t Dress For Success

There are so many people who say how great their home business is because they get to work in their pajamas. Sounds awesome, right? Wrong! Dressing up for success and putting on clothing that you would wear to an outside of home job set the tone for the day. Pajamas and messy hair set the tone of lounging and not being productive.

If your body and mind are in a relaxed state, then it’s likely that you won’t complete your tasks. No work means no pay, so get dressed for success.

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3. They Don’t Set Hours Of Operation

For most people, it’s hard to keep up with daily tasks and chores. Throw a home business into the mix and the schedule gets extremely crazy. Not setting hours of operation is the biggest mistake a home business owner can make.

Instead of randomly working throughout the day, take a look at your schedule and figure out how many hours you can work per week. Then, divide those hours into the number of days of the week that you are planning to do your work. Once you’ve figured out how many hours per day you are working, set specific time frames. If you have blocked off 8am to 1pm, then do not do anything else but focus on your work during that time slot. Of course, schedule your break time as well. Try to take about 10-20 minutes every hour to sit back, relax, take a restroom break or drink some water.

Tip: set your alarm for the time you start and finish work, as well as for all of your breaks in between.

4. They Don’t Set Goals

When a business owner doesn’t set any goals, a home business is doomed to fail. Goals help business owners be focused on tasks. Without goals, they are in the dark about how to run the business, what to do next, and how to reach their full potential.

Every home business owner should set short and long term goals. The short term goals will help to understand exactly what needs to be done each day/week and long term goals will give home business owners a vision and a passion to work towards something great.

Examples of specific short term goals: 

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– Write 2 blog posts per week.
– Share business with five new people per week.
– Sell X amount of products per day.
– Interact with customers on social media daily.
– Read 10 pages per day.

Examples of specific long term goals:

– Earn X amount of money this year.
– Add X people to my mailing list this year.
– Read 10 personal development books this year.

5. They Don’t Separate Work Time And Family Time

If you are a family man or woman, then setting work time and family time is extremely important. There is time for work, there is time for play, and there is time for family. Not separating these different times can lead to a lot of stress and discontent, both for you and for them.

Your family has to understand that when you are scheduled to work, you have to work. Share your schedule with them, so they know exactly when your working hours are. Similarly, when your working hours are over, don’t go running to your computer or making business phone calls.

6. They Don’t Provide Value

Many businesses fail because they constantly advertise, but don’t provide any value. Of course a big part of any business is to advertise and sell products, but in many cases it’s even more important to provide value to the customers.

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Customers are looking for answers to their problems. They are seeking someone to relate to them and show them how their problem can be solved.

Here are a few of ways you can provide value to your customers: 

– Give away a free e-book.
– Shoot a series of “how to” videos and give them away for free.
– Post something useful or inspirational to your blog or Facebook page.
– Ask questions and then answer them in timely manner.

7. They Don’t Grow A Social Network

Any business without a social network is likely not to survive for too long. A good social network is the bread and butter of a home business. A lot of new business owners are scared to get into social media because it’s a new frontier for them.

The more people you know and can share your product information with, the faster your business will grow. The best way to get to know people is to get on one or a few of the social media websites like Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. You can even give out your social media profile information to local people, so they can add you or friend you online.

You wouldn’t call all of your customers to remind them about sales, to give them coupons, or provide them with value on daily basis. Yet, you can easily do all of these things if you are connected to them on a social network, which means more sales for you.

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Adding all of your contacts to an autoresponder, such as Aweber, will increase your reach even more because you will be able to deliver your messages straight your customer’s mailboxes.

8. They Don’t Create A Business Website

Although not all home businesses will fail without a website, it’s very hard to grow a business without one local place where all of your your products and services can be previewed. A website can bring new customers who live outside of your town, outside of state, and even outside of your country.

A business website can give you the following advantages:

– Display your products and services.
– Help customers find you on a social network.
– Provide value through blog posts.
– Give away your digital products.
– Capture your customers’ email addresses.
– One local place to send everyone to for more information.
– Access to non-local population.
– A website can work for you 24/7, even while you are sleeping.

9. They Don’t Keep Track Of Their Expenses

Last, but not least, business owner who don’t track their expenses usually fail at running a home business. A lot of people put way too much money into a business, but don’t cover all of their costs by selling products and services. Knowing how much money goes out and comes in is crucial to sustaining a profitable business.

Additionally, every home business owner can write off business expenses. If you don’t keep track of how much you are spending, you may be losing tax money at the end of the year. There are a number of different software and apps out there that you can use to track all of your expenses. Simply type “business expense tracker” into Google and you will be able to find different options that will fit your budget or even be free.

Featured photo credit: elegant business multitasking multimedia man using devices at home via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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