It’s been said that “no man is an island” – this couldn’t be more true when it comes to working online. Particularly when you’re working from home; it’s very easy to get into a “lone worker” mentality. Avoid this by using our networking tips to help you expand your network.
#1 – Build a support system. Find others in your field or work and build up a support system. These people will not only understand your business but they’ll also be able to support you in a number of ways, such as sending new business referrals your way or recommending a great service provider. Of course, you’ll also want to help them in return.
But more importantly, a great support system is just that – support. Your support network will be able to understand the unique issues and dilemmas of your business and may be able to offer advice and a helping hand whenever needed.
You can build your support network by joining like-minded mastermind groups or finding local events in your area. A quick search on the internet or asking other colleagues should give you several options.
#2 – Go to seminars and events. Especially if you’re working from home you may think that going to a seminar is too difficult or perhaps not worth it. But it’s been said that many great business relationships (and friendships) have been formed at these events.
If a large seminar seems daunting, start with a smaller-scale event. You may even be able to find one locally rather than having to fly out to a different area. And keep in mind that no one expects anything from you at these events; you can participate as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. Having said that, this is a great time to network and make new business relationships.
#3 – Network online. If you can’t make it to an event or want to find a good networking option in between events, online forums can be a great tool. Visit several and read through the posts before deciding on where you want to spend your time. Forums can be time consuming so you’ll want to choose wisely.
A good forum will have members who are courteous and genuinely interested in helping each other and building support networks. Do your part by contributing where you can as well. And do take your time to familiarize yourself with the forum rules and etiquette before joining in – this will help you avoid potentially embarrassing situations.
Ask around for recommendations from people you trust. If you can’t come up with recommendations, then a simple online search should bring up several results. Do your homework and go with the one you feel most comfortable with.
#4 – Join a mastermind group. A mastermind group is a like-minded group of people who come together to help and support each other. Many great businesses have been built on the mastermind concept. Although these groups will usually cost a certain amount to join, you may make the initial investment back several times over.
However, not all mastermind groups are created equal. You’ll want to find a group that will offer support in a positive manner. A good aim is a group of different abilities, including some entrepreneurs whom are more successful than you are – this will ensure that you’re getting great advice from people who have “been there and done that.”
Above all, no matter which networking option you choose, it should make you feel good and ultimately help your business. And remember, give back wherever you can as well.
Starting your own business can be a great way to make income and have a more flexible career. There is one big problem with being your own boss, though – you are responsible for holding yourself accountable. This means that if you’re not the most disciplined and dependable person, you’re probably going to have problems running a consistent business. But, there is hope.
The biggest problem with inconsistent work is inconsistent income. If you get a lot of work done one month and not a lot done the next, depending on your business, your income is going to change drastically from month to month, putting a strain on your budget and financial security.
You may also be inconsistent in your communication, sometimes responding quickly, other times putting things off. Or not being consistent in the way you communicate expectancies and what you’re going to do. This not only makes you look unreliable and undependable, but can also result in misunderstandings between you and your customers, further worsening the problem.
When you think of inconsistent work, you often think time-wise. An inconsistent worker often doesn’t meet deadlines or sometimes can or cannot be available for work. However, you can be always prompt and available and still be inconsistent. You can vary not only in when you do work and how long, but also in the quality of work. You may provide excellent work sometimes, or sloppy sub-par work at other times. This can make people leery about hiring you. They know you can provide quality work, but they don’t know that they can count on it.
So, it’s easy to say “I’m going to be more consistent”, but if it’s not in your nature, actually becoming consistent is a much more difficult task. Here are a few tips for getting yourself back on track.
– Make a plan. It’s hard to stick to a specific plan when you don’t have one. Take some time to sit down and make a plan of exactly how you want to conduct business. This can include anything from how long you take to respond to customer requests, to the minimum quality of work you will accept from yourself. Try concentrating on fixing your weakest points, but don’t ignore other aspects. Otherwise you may begin slacking on those areas as you improve elsewhere.
– Set up checks and balances. If your problem is being late with work, set up specific mini-deadlines within projects and make sure you meet them. If your trouble is varying work quality, look into your situation, find the root cause of the drop in work and set up a check to make sure work quality doesn’t suffer when something is different or goes wrong. You can even set up reward and punishment systems for when you do well or poorly.
– Call for back-up. Have you tried and tried to improve your work with no luck? Why not ask a buddy to back you up. You can have them call you at scheduled times to see how you are progressing, double check your products before they go to customers, or help you work out a plan to better communicate with your customers and run your business. If you don’t have a buddy you can trust, you can always hire someone to help you get your life and business in order.
Remember that you can’t change your whole work ethic overnight, it takes work and dedication. But the key is that it can be done and you can become dependable and successful.
Chances are, you enjoy creating and designing websites. And in this day and age, every business needs one, and the more creative and effective, the better. You can set up your own web design business and provide a needed service while making an income.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Learn HTML. You probably are already familiar with the workings of HTML, but if not, you can take advantage of the multiple online resources such as ebooks and articles. Offline, there are many books in print that can help familiarize you with HTML.
2. Develop a plan. As with any business, you’ll need to take the time to organize your goals and the processes necessary to reach them. Do you have the time to devote to running a business? Do you have a reliable internet connection and computer? How are you going to pay taxes and are you aware of tax deductions for your business? What is your target market and your area of expertise? How much money do you want to make? These are some of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself as you embark on your web design business.
3. Determine what services you are going to offer. In addition to designing and creating a website, you may want to offer hosting or tutorial videos to help small business owners.
4. Create your own website. This is where you will refer all potential clients, and it needs to be a good example of your skill. You will also need to have a folder of sample websites on your site that prospective clients can review. If you have not yet worked for a client, design a few sample websites and put those in your samples folder.
5. Determine what you’ll charge for your services. In your plan, you determined how much income you need. You’ll also need to determine the number of hours you can work per week or month, and divide this by the amount of money you’d like to make. In other words, if you want to make $1000 a month and can devote 100 hours a month to your business, then you need to be making at least $10 per hour. While you don’t have to charge by the hour (you can charge by the service), you need to make a reasonable estimation of how long these services take and charge accordingly so that you average $10 an hour (or whatever you want to make).
6. Promote your business. Offer to design a web page for a well-known company for no charge and use it for a sample on your personal site, and see referrals come your way. Contact past employers and let them know you are in the web design business. You might consider setting up a profile on sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, and use social networking as a source of contacts.
7. Watch out for resources that make false promises. As you look for online sources of information, be on the lookout for sites that promise you that, if you follow their business plan, you’ll make millions of dollars overnight. Steer clear of anything that sounds too good or too easy to be true. Developing a business is rewarding, but it requires time and effort to make it happen.
Maybe you love to travel, or have a great deal of experience and knowledge about vacation destinations. Maybe you just like the idea of working from home and discussing the best vacation spots! These days, most people make their travel arrangements via the internet, which opens a door of opportunity to work as a travel agent from home. Here are a few tips and guidelines for getting started.
Find out your state’s laws regarding licensing
Some states require travel agents to be licensed. If such is the case in your state, you’ll need to find out what is required to obtain your license. Certain fees may apply and will need to be considered as part of your start-up costs.
How you set up your home office will affect your efficiency and productivity. You will need an area devoted to your business, with a filing cabinet, telephone, and computer equipped with a fast internet connection such as dsl or cable. Your computer will also need appropriate travel software, such as SABRE. You also might consider investing in a headset so that you can speak with a client on the phone while finding information on your computer.
Find a niche
You’ll want to specialize in a particular area of travel to determine your target market and keep your focus. Some possibilities are cruises, family vacations, spa retreats, and honeymoons. Go with what appeals to you and where the market is strongest.
Find a reputable agency through whom to work
While you will be working as an independent travel agent, working with a reputable travel agency that will support you in meeting your business goals is worthwhile. Look for a company that has a good reputation, particularly in your niche, with a strong online presence. Such companies can help get you started with a client base, and often make a point of hiring agents who work from home. It saves the agency overhead costs and working under their “umbrella” will save you the work of getting clients from scratch.
Set competitive fees
There is a lot of demand for travel agents and the business is lucrative, but because of its popularity there is a great deal of competition. You’ll want to find out what a typical agent charges and set your fees accordingly. You might also consider offering some services for free for promotional purposes, especially at the beginning of your business venture. And be sure to pamper your clients and keep them “grandfathered in” to your original rates if you raise them later.
Include marketing in your budget
You might consider hiring a professional to work with you in marketing your business. Such experts abound online, and their fees vary. Usually, they offer various packages with different options to fit your marketing needs. You can also use social networking (such as Facebook and Twitter) to circulate your name and promote your business.
It’s exciting to live in a day and age when technology has opened up the possibility of working from home as a travel agent. Get your clients excited along with you, and you’ll be in business!
In this video, Patrysha shares the results from the local Facebook advertising experiment conducted at Community Futures Yellowhead East. The experiment cost less than $40 and led to 80 potential customer leads engaging in the ad over seven days.