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How to Build a Successful Home-Based Business

written by: Tye Larabee•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 11/30/2010

So, you have a great idea for a home-based business, you've written up a detailed business plan, and you're ready to quit the 9-5. Great! But before you take the plunge into running your own business from home, consider these tips.

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    Working from Home Means Less Commuting--Not Less Work

    Woman by healingdream / It might sound like a great idea to sleep in every day, have a leisurely breakfast, and spend more time with the family (all while waiting for money to show up in your bank account)--but have you figured out how? Start a home business, many people say; but the fact is running a home business is a lot of work--especially in the beginning. Getting a new business up and running will likely require more time and effort than working for an employer. That's why it's important to set a schedule and stick to it. Treat your home-based business just like you would any job. Get there on time and make productive use of the hours you've set for yourself.

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    Working from Home Does Not Mean More Free Time

    It never fails. As soon as people hear that you work from home, they assume you have unlimited free time. They'll ask you to meet for coffee, babysit their kids, or volunteer for their event, and it's tempting to accept their offers. But, if you're going to run a successful home business, you have to learn to say “No.” Your time is valuable – when you're not working, you're not earning. It's important to tell friends and family that you are unavailable during certain hours of the day. Again, treat your business as you would a regular job. You wouldn't run out for two-hour coffee meetings or babysit the neighbor's kids if you worked for an employer, would you?

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    Calculate your Worth

    Finance by Michelle Meiklejohn / It's important to figure out how much each hour of your time is worth, in dollars, and plan your workday activities accordingly. If you're a web-designer who typically earns $50 per hour, then consider it a business loss of $50 when you spend an hour grocery shopping instead of working. Again, think about the same scenario if you were working for an outside employer. If you took an hour off to run to the grocery store, that time would be deducted from your paycheck. To be successful, it's important to apply those same rules to your home business. Now, more than ever, your time is money.

    In his book Getting Started as a Freelance Writer, Robert W. Bly suggests hiring help if you can't stand to watch the grass grow or the dishes pile up. It will probably save you money. Take the example above, for instance. If a web-designer is making $50 per hour, and hires a housekeeper for $25 per hour, that web-designer just cut her losses in half.

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    All Work and No Play?

    Just as it's important to stick to a strict work schedule, it's equally important to know when it's time to shut the office down for the night. Working from home comes with the unique challenge of never getting to leave the office. It's easy to get wrapped up in work and forget to take time for yourself. So, refer to the schedule you set for yourself and follow it. If you've committed yourself to working from 8am to 5pm, five days a week, then when five o'clock rolls around, walk away from your work and take some personal time. You, and your family, will appreciate it. This is one of the most important home-business tips.

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    Be Patient

    As the saying goes: Rome wasn't built in a day. Growing a new business from the ground up takes time, and that can be frustrating. It's rare that a new business sees an immediate profit, so keep that in mind before you begin your business venture. In the meantime, have patience, keep working toward your goals, and make sure you have a means to support yourself financially while things take off.

    The bottom line is, running a home business can be as challenging as it is rewarding, but if you're motivated and well prepared, your chances of success increase exponentially.

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