Saturday, September 11, 2010

Part-time home business: 3 keys to high performance

You may be the classic 'serial entrepreneur' with several irons in the fire, hard-wired to look for new opportunities that leverage your creativity, work ethic, and people skills.

Or, you may be a cautious career professional looking for additional income streams to improve your bottom line or provide a hedge for the future.

In any case, the attractive qualities of any successful home-based business:
  • low entry costs
  • low overhead
  • time flexibility
are also what make these opportunities a good fit when they are only one of several priorities to be managed. Choosing a home business that truly performs well with a part-time focus is the challenge.

Here are 3 keys for choosing a home-based business that will realistically and consistently deliver the results that meet your goals for a part-time endeavor.
  1. Does the business generate passive residual income? Passive income is not directly dependent on your efforts, in contrast to most hourly and professional jobs where, if you don't work, you don't get paid. Residual income continues to pay you over time in connection with an initial, up-front effort. In reputable network marketing businesses, for example, your income is derived from both yours and your team's efforts. Stock market and real estate investments are other examples of passive residual income. Choosing a home-based business that generates reliable passive residual income, especially one that offers increased leverage as you grow it, will help ensure the 'part-time-ness' of your commitment.
  2. What is the minimum weekly time commitment, what activities are involved, is the time scheduled or flexible? Based on credible examples, or your own analysis of what is required, determine if the business performs well at 5, 10, 20 hours per week. If the successful examples are all working the business 30 to 50 hours per week, you should adjust your expectations if you can only commit to 10 hours per week. Also, are the activities ones with which you are effective? What is the mix of marketing, order and inventory management, customer education and support, and recruiting? Is there a long or short up-to-speed process? Are you in control of when you commit your time each week? Are you expected to attend meetings or trainings at particular times, or is the business largely a matter of completing tasks on your own schedule?
  3. What is the amount and quality of the help available to build the business? If an opportunity is presented as a do-it-yourself business-in-a-box, evaluate closely whether that has worked for others, and if the up-to-speed time investment is what you can live with. Will that type of business scale up to the size you envision through just your efforts, and those you recruit, or will you also benefit from the activities of the larger team?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wellness home business: 5 ways to keep it personal

Your wellness-based home business is in the double sweet-spot of small business:

1. Huge market: wellness goods and services are on a strong rise to be the next trillion-dollar industry.

2. Strong up-trend: home-based businesses are also on the rise, already contributing tens of billions to the U.S. economy, and accounting for more than half of small businesses. According to a U.S. Small Business Administration research report: “… the home has become a hub of business activity, entrepreneurship, and business creation.”

Great to be in good company, isn’t it?

With more than 60% of small businesses selling directly to individuals, the personal factors of your business are critical keys to your success as a home business owner. Here are five ways you can maximize the personal dimension of your wellness home business, and thus enhance your long-term success.

  1. Be your own billboard. As an owner of a wellness business, you are obviously a champion of wellness choices. Are you a picture of wellness yourself? Do you use the products or services that you market? Do you have a strong personal story about their value? Do you make your general appearance a priority (e.g. with diet and exercise)? Are you a demonstration of the financial success of your home business opportunity?
  2. Know what each customer values. Not all prospects - even those from your ideal demographic - have identical priorities. Do you know how each prospect assigns value to the investment that you are proposing? Do you have a strategy for demonstrating added value to each transaction? The first of Bob Burg’s 5 Laws of a Go-Giver is helpful here: “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.”
  3. Put a ‘face’ on every transaction. This is especially challenging with internet-based home businesses, where distance is the norm and you may never have a face-to-face meeting with many of your customers or partners. What is your strategy to know more about your customer than the specifics you need to complete a transaction? How many unique ways of communicating with your customer do you offer? Can customers communicate with you as readily as you distribute information to them? Do you know which is your customer’s preferred medium for communication?
  4. Let your customer drive. Customer-initiated business is the most effective, and most profitable, for any size business. And it is the lifeblood of home-based businesses. In the arena of internet marketing, for example, one of the most powerful personalizing strategies is attraction-based marketing, where customers pre-sell themselves (e.g. with an internet search) on your products or opportunity prior to contacting you.
  5. Join a successful team. Your business benefits from the personal dimension on the production side of your enterprise as well. Working closely with like-minded business owners toward a shared or parallel goal magnifies the impact of your individual efforts, improves your business knowledge, and offers more satisfaction in what you do day-to-day. If your supplier does not offer the team opportunities that fit you, explore concepts such as a home business owners community or mastermind group that is designed around specific success strategies or personal growth that will benefit you.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Who holds the secret to your home business success?

It doesn't take much homework on what it takes to succeed with your particular home business before you are exposed to more tips, must-do's, etc. than you can practically use.

If you are building a network marketing business, you've already been exposed to a dizzying number of systems, examples to follow, and sources of advice on how to make that business model work for you. As Jeff Olson puts it in his excellent book, The Slight Edge, if information gaps were all that holds us back from success, we would all be billionaires by now.

As I've turned the corner from corporate employee to home business owner I am intrigued with the way individuals boost (or retard!) all other efforts to produce results. On one level this is not that profound. It's obviously what allows one individual with the same opportunity and equipping as the next person to achieve higher and faster results.

This is particularly evident in proven network marketing home businesses, that more readily allow individuals to make up for disadvantages they may have in skill or experience 'mileage' - as level a playing field as you'll find anywhere in small business.

But from what I've observed I believe this how the 'individual factor' works:

success = (opportunity + skills/training) x individual effort x individual qualities

Simplified? Of course.

But think about most of the information that you’ve seen or read on how to succeed. Most of what I’ve seen offered this perspective:

success = (opportunity + tips/secrets of the expert you’re listening to) x individual effort

Now, I highly value all the tips and secrets that I’ve received from experts and winners in various fields. But those insights only got traction in what I needed to accomplish when they were individualized by me, for who I am in my home business endeavor. The degree of passion, perseverance, and effectiveness I experienced was related directly to how much I owned the principles that I learned, and really integrated them into what I was doing next.

I suspect most authors and experts would go along with this individualization observation, maybe even say that it is obvious, or generally understood as an unspoken requirement.

But I also suspect that I’m not the only one who ended up with the unconscious sense that if I could just become a clone of who I was listening to or reading, then I would enjoy the success that they achieved. And that represents the major difference in the two success formulas above.

Re-focusing on the individual ingredient has me excited. For although I cannot escape needing basic skills and the right open door to succeed, I already have one critical component for my success.


I am my secret weapon, I am my own wild card. And not because I’m a prodigy.

Consider a table set with all kinds of good food. It’s not a feast (or training table, or health regimen, or whatever) until it gets eaten. And more than one outcome is possible when it does get eaten! It could further my aspirations to be a chef. It could educate me on new frontiers of nutrition. It could enhance my performance as an athlete. That part is up to the one eating the food.


So who we are in our home business endeavor matters more than we realize.

Try looking at the training or self-improvement information you’re exposed to as something you ’eat’, rather than something you learn in the purely-intellectual, curriculum sense. Let it be part of you and the success journey that you’re undertaking. Rather than trying to mold yourself to whatever external model that information describes.

It’s way more fun. And very likely the key to ultimate success in your endeavor.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wellness home business: follow the clues

The trends have been developing over a long period. The impact of health care spending on American business is already alarming:
  • Starbucks - health care costs exceed the cost of coffee
  • General Motors - health care costs exceed the cost of steel, and is three times the health care costs for Japanese auto manufacturers
  • Government - health care costs equaled 17% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 2008, and is expected to rise to 20% by 2017

With a corresponding impact on individuals:

  • Health insurance premiums rose five times faster than wages from 2000 to present, and rose at twice the rate of inflation in 2008 alone
  • The average worker paid nearly $13,000 per year in premiums for family health care coverage
  • More than 46 million in the U.S. elect to be uninsured, primarily because of the high cost of the coverage

Regardless of your politics, there seems to be general agreement that this cannot continue.

As organizations unwrap the causes behind these crushing trends, they are targeting specific health issues such as smoking, obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity. Getting ahead of these health challenges with proactive prevention and wellness lifestyle strategies is increasingly seen as key to long-term success in reversing these trends.

And 'wellness and prevention' is getting more than just philosophical lip service in this process. The dollars-and-cents perspective is pushing the policy and priority choices. For example, where studies show that individuals with obesity trigger more than $2000 in additional annual health costs, a return-on-investment goal is now visible, which organizations can use to assess the effectiveness of their investments in solutions.

On top of those direct health costs, employers are also incented by data showing more lost time due to health issues, as much as 12 times higher for obese or overweight employees, for example. When you add documented reductions in on-the-job productivity for health-challenged workers, you can see why organizations have not waited on others to explore alternatives.

And individuals and families are also wising up regarding their personal finances, since co-pays and out-of-pocket health expenses have also skyrocketed.

The shift toward investing in wellness solutions is already happening. Almost everyone has an awareness around the concept of ‘wellness’, and consumer and corporate spending is shifting accordingly. The size of the wellness industry is headed toward a trillion dollars within the next few years. Providing wellness solutions is already big business.

The savvy home business entrepreneur who aims to be a successful solution provider in wellness must assess where these spending shifts are occurring in specific markets that he or she can effectively work with. Obviously, the more effectively you follow the money, the more successful you will be. When you know where wellness dollars are being spent you can choose your offering so that your solution fills an existing - and pressing - need.

Just as you make logical choices about your specific market based on prior experience, skills that you possess, or a unique access opportunity that you have, you need to make logical direction choices for your wellness business based not only on where consumer spending is occurring now, but also where the trends are taking that spending. For example, the dietary supplement industry is in a long term transition toward a more scrutinized and monitored regulatory environment. And consumer spending is following that trend, away from suppliers with wild anything-goes marketing claims toward those with credible science-backed, certified product offerings.

It is also important to assess the timing of spending shifts as well as their direction. Knowing the timing ensures that any investment required to pursue the business in that arena is as close as possible to when a profitable return can be realized on that investment.

Follow the money clues, make sound choices, and your success is ... elementary.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Economic downturn: reposition your home business for growth

The general mood is ...

"Will my business survive the current economic challenges?"

But the savvy home business owner is already looking at the very next question ...

"Am I positioning for success in the coming upturn?"

As tough as it is to cope with the business realities of a recession period, there are prime opportunities now to improve the position of your work-from-home business to take advantage of the next phase of economic expansion that is coming.

Here are a few thought-starters along those lines:
  1. If you aren't pursuing the right opportunity, this may be the right time to stop and restart with a better one. Or start with a better one in parallel with your existing business. There are more opportunities than ever looking for you. Starting the right low-entry, high-potential home business opportunity now gets you ahead of the game, and ready for the next growth period before it hits.
  2. For an existing business, this is a great time to lay foundations for managing significant future growth in your customer base and revenue, and the operational needs that go with that growth. For example, you may find discounts available on tools or infrastructure that you use to manage your business, or may need as you grow in the future.
  3. Evaluate opportunities to connect with new partners. Larger numbers of good ones are in the hunt for you, too. Who else is also pursuing your business opportunity that shares your vision and passion? Is a community approach to your business opportunity available?
  4. Keep a close eye on your target market. How can you better serve them, both in terms of current needs in this climate, and where their business or personal circumstances are headed next? Can you take advantage of pull-backs or weakness on the part of your competitors? Are you participating in the rapid-growth industries that will get the most attention in the next decade?
The average length of recessions in the U.S. has been 11 months over the past 5 decades. Most agree that the current downturn is the most severe we've had since the 1930's and could take much longer than that. But the savvy home business owner knows we have already traveled part of the 'distance' toward the next upturn, and should act now to be ready for it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Community: putting the 'easy' in work-at-home business

Most entrepreneurs consider the internet a critical component for work at home business success. Whether the internet is the primary tool for marketing goods and services, or mostly an operational tool for communication and research, no one 'works at home without it' these days.

For home business owners, needing to leverage the internet leads to the question of whether you have the skills you need to do that.

And if you don't have the skills you need, must you hold up on growing your business to get those skills first?

Fortunately, being effective with most internet functions of interest to home business owners is getting a little easier all the time. Most work-at-home business opportunities do not require the owner to become a technology geek to work the business.

Still, having more expertise than your competitor in applying the internet to the business can mean competitive advantage, making the difference between breaking even, and breaking through to high-level success.

The most common ways to get that expertise advantage are:
  1. Hiring it, through employees, contractors, or consultants.
  2. Learning it through traditional education sources, self-study, or mentors.
  3. Sharing it in a community of work at home entrepreneurs who join forces to build individual home businesses.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What are you selling with your at-home business?

You know what your prospects buy when they become your customers. But is that what you are selling with your at-home business?

Successful small business owners agree that you -- and the value you bring as a solution-provider -- get as much scrutiny as your product details or pricing in your prospect's evaluation of your offer. This is especially true with direct selling businesses such as network marketing opportunities.

An old adage from the network marketing industry goes: "features tell, benefits sell." The new at home business owner has to overcome the temptation to major on the feature details and potentially gloss over the prospects real interest -- the benefits or value they will receive for doing business with you.

Expanding on this principle, you could say, "products tell, people sell". You are the most-valuable asset of your at-home business. Here are some examples of why:
  • Your prospect is wired toward valuing the person-to-person aspects of your transaction. Artists know this principle. Even the most exquisitely-depicted city scene or landscape, has an instantly deeper (if unconscious) appeal to the viewer if there is even a small representation of a human figure in the scene.
  • How your prospect assesses you is strongly connected with how likely they are to have ongoing relationship with you, and thus do future business with you. More so than the features of your product in many cases.
  • A large-population, long-term study of employees by the Gallup organization identified that relationship factors, such as manager-employee relationships, were more significant in affecting job satisfaction than salary. Again, your prospect has a built-in value around relating with you in a positive way that impacts their satisfaction with your business.
Your at-home business will have no revenue if you have no products, of course. But the successful entrepreneur knows that without leveraging your relationship with customers as a solution provider, you have no future.