Home-based business has come to represent a large segment of today’s workforce and a powerful force in the economy. However, home businesses are often regarded as “little hobbies” and oftentimes not taken seriously. As such, you face the risk of some potential clients and industry members doubting your capability to deliver quality products and services that are on par with your bigger competitors.
As a home business entrepreneur, it is important to demonstrate professionalism at every touch point. It is not easy, but it is something that needs to be done to get the respect that your home business deserves. Run your business as professionally as possible, just like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
A professional image does not just happen overnight: you need to create and nurture it. It involves everything from how you present yourself, your mindset and attitude, your own work space and business name. Your professionalism also shows in your promotional and marketing materials, to how you communicate with your customers, and the quality of your products and services. Professionalism is the only weapon that can be effectively used to overcome misconceptions about the seriousness of your home business.
Here are some tips to build professionalism and combat the hobbyist image that people have for home-based workers:
Start with your own attitude about yourself and your business.
The way you conduct your business influences the way people think of you. Never, ever apologize for working at home! Convey confidence in yourself and your business (even if you do not feel it yet inside). Your customers will be most likely to trust you with their business, and others will respect you as a savvy entrepreneur.
Set up a proper work space for your business.
Set-up a room, or even a desk in a corner, designated just for your business. If possible, have your office in a separate room with doors, or at least with screens and partitions. This will let your family and others know that you are working and should not be disturbed when you are in your “office”. This will block off unwanted noises in the background, such as the barking of the dog or children crying, which you certainly would not want your clients to hear as you talk on the phone. This will also help shift your mindset from household tasks to business activities when you are in your business area.
Find a block (or segments) of time that you can regularly set as business hours.
Politely let others know these are your business hours, and you will get back to them – unless it is an emergency – when you are finished working. One man operating a home-based business puts a “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door to let his neighbors know that he is busy at work.
Carry business cards, an organizer or an appointment book with you at all times.
Make it a point to tell people you have a home business and share the pride you feel. When your client sets up a follow-up meeting, or even if your friends ask you for lunch, be sure to put these appointments in your calendar.
Prepare professional-looking marketing materials.
Print your business name, logo and address on all your business cards, letterheads, brochures, envelopes, and other office supplies. Be sure these materials look professional to make a positive impression on your potential clients.
Sound professional on the phone
Have a separate phone and fax line for your business. Always answer professionally and never let kids answer it. Return calls promptly. This will convey the impression that they are important to you.
Get an answering machine, voice mail or answering service to handle calls when you are away from your office or otherwise occupied. However, avoid using tape answering machine that sounds too amateurish.
Have a business plan and check it regularly to see whether you are close to following the time schedule you have allotted to reach your goals. Keep focused on the tasks, but also look toward the future possibilities your business might achieve. Have a business vision.
Network, network, network.
Join and network with professional and trade organizations. Be active in your community. This is a good way to establish contacts in your industry, and even raise the visibility of your business
Dress professionally when you meet people.
You can dress casually in the house but make sure to project a professional image when doing business in person.
Be proud being a home-based entrepreneur! More and more people are now starting to earn their living working from home. More importantly, develop a mindset for business and financial success.
Recommended Books on Home Business:
- The Work-at-Home Success Bible: A Complete Guide for Women: Start Your Own Business; Balance Work and Home Life; Develop Telecommuting Strategies
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business, 3rdEdition
- Work at Home Now: The No-nonsense Guide to Finding Your Perfect Home-based Job, Avoiding Scams, and Making a Great Living
- The Six-Figure Second Income: How To Start and Grow A Successful Online Business Without Quitting Your Day Job