5 Things you Need to Grow and Improve your Home Based Small Business But Don't Think you Can Afford

Running a small business from home is indeed a balancing act--especially if you are a work at home parent. Learning to juggle the duties of home and family with the many hats of a small business owner is a daunting task. There is often just not enough hours in the day--or dollars in the budget for the many items on your to-do list or family's wish list. Many small business owners know what they need to do to grow and improve their home based business--but, simply do not think that they can afford the tools or services that they need. Today, I wanted to share some things that do help you grow and improve your home based small business--and that you can have even if you don't think you can afford them!

A Dedicated Office Space for your Home Based Business. I think this is the number one thing you need to grow and improve your home based business. Working from home offers many freedoms and benefits--but, brings with it a lot of distractions and conflicts. Having a spot within your home that is 100% dedicated to your business allows you to create a separate home/work space that helps you focus on work tasks while you are "at work." Whether it is a spare bedroom turned into an official home office--or a corner of the living room turned into a dedicated office space--you can likely afford to set up a place in your home used for running and growing your business. This consistent space helps you build consistent practices and behaviors necessary for turning your dream into a job with a physical location and presence.

Employees. Maybe you don't think your business is busy enough to warrant extra employees beyond yourself--but, you know that if you were able to spend less time on menial tasks or large one-time projects you would be able to focus on the growth and money-making aspects of your business. While you may not be able to afford full salaries and benefits for a full-time marketing director or an office manager--you may still be able to hire employees to help you run and grow your business. Consider contracting freelance work or hiring interns for business projects and tasks. The rates are often much lower than you would expect--and the results much better and faster than achieved on your own.

A Mentor or Network for Advice. Sometimes you have to know what you don't know--and admit that there are things that you don't know. Sometimes--you need outside input from a community of your peers to realize that there are things that you don't know! While they may not fit a consulting definition; there are tons of online groups available for virtually any business venture where like-minded individuals share tips and resources, ask questions, and both seek and offer support to fellow small business owners. Many of these networks and groups are free to join and utilize--or cost very little when the value of the group is realized.

A Tech Savvy Operation. When you run a business from home, you need to stay on top of the latest, most efficient, most affordable technology options available for your business needs. This tech-savvy operation may require a significant initial investment in physical equipment and virtual space--but, it will undoubtedly pay for itself as your business grows, you hire freelancers for projects or as you need to automate various operational tasks. Research options, ask questions in your networking groups and seek recommendations for putting together a future-driven operation to make your day to day operations more accessible to manage and allow for your business growth.

Office Hours--and Vacation Time. Once you have a separate space dedicated to running your home-based business, you should also plan to set up official business hours. While it seems that you need to work 24/7 to meet all of the demands of your growing business and your family's needs--you will benefit from setting up (and following) a predictable daily or weekly schedule. Of course, you may need to occasionally take an office call during dinner or attend a meeting at your child's school during the morning--but, setting up core office hours helps navigate that work-from-home work/life balance. Also--you need to schedule those regular days or afternoons off and a vacation every so often to refresh and recharge and remind yourself why you work so hard during the year!

None of these items needs to be extravagant--just efficient and effective. All of these things you need to grow and improve your business come with a price tag of some sort--but, offer a lot of value to you and your family as you work to grow that home-based small business!

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