Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Organization, Productivity, Success, Work at Home

4 Home Business Productivity Hacks You Need to Know

As rewarding as starting a small home business can be, it is a lot of work. That can dissuade some people from starting their businesses in the first place. After all, when you are first starting a business from home, there’s a good chance you’ll still need to keep your day job. That means the amount of time you have to work on your business is limited.

Don’t let this stop you from pursuing your entrepreneurial goals. While it is true that you may need to squeeze growing your business into small windows of time at first, doing so is much easier when you keep the following productivity hacks in mind.

1. Make a schedule.

The times you spend working on your home business may be fairly random and sporadic when you first start out. Depending on the nature of your schedule, you may only be able to work on it during your moments of free time, which might not arrive consistently.

schedule planner

That’s a reality you have to accept. That said, odds are good you can take a look at the week ahead and identify times you know you’ll be available. Plan on using these times to focus on important business tasks. Although your schedule may not be regular and consistent at first, it’s at least necessary to plan your week ahead of time, knowing what business goals you want to accomplish.

This highlights another important point: you also need to prioritize your to-do list. You don’t want to waste the precious free time you have focusing on tasks that aren’t high priorities right now.

2. Improve your home office.

Busy new entrepreneurs know the value of a home office. You’re more likely to be productive when working in the right environment. Some features of a home office are essential. You need proper lighting (ideally natural light, which helps boost productivity), all the tools and resources necessary for completing business tasks, and a reasonable space in which to work.

Beyond that, you can decide what aspects of a home office are more likely to have a positive impact on your productivity. Maybe you find you focus on your work better when the door is closed. Perhaps it helps to have some relaxing music on in the background. Some people feel they get more done when their home offices are decorated with motivational posters and similar iconography. 

This is an opportunity to indulge your creativity! While a home office serves a practical purpose, it can also be a space that reflects your personality and brand.

3. Track your time.

The nature of every home business is different. That said, in this day and age, odds are good that running yours involves using the Internet to at least some degree.


This can obviously lead to distracting situations. From YouTube to social media, there are innumerable ways you can waste time or engage in low-priority, low-impact tasks related to your new business. This is particularly true when you don’t have a supervisor watching over you. If you’re not used to managing your own time in this capacity, it makes sense that you might become distracted.

The problem is, the more time you spend on such diversions, the less time you have to grow a successful business. Thus, if you’re prone to getting distracted on the Internet, you may want to use a time-tracking app. It can provide you with a report that helps you grasp just how much time you have available. Many people are surprised when presented with a clear breakdown of how they truly spend their time.

4. Wear the right clothes.

This might seem like a somewhat strange tip, but it’s in fact quite valuable. You already know your working environment can have an impact on your productivity. The same can be said about your clothing. Research has actually shown that people feel more productive when they are dressed professionally.

Yes, it may be tempting to wear your most comfortable outfit when working from home, but the effect this could have on your mindset is likely to be negative. You’re better off dressing as if you were going to the office instead. This will trick your brain into entering “work mode,” making it easier for you to stay focused and accomplish key tasks.

There will ideally come a time when your small home business is so successful that you can quit your day job. However, to achieve that degree of success, you need to work hard during the early stages. These tips will help you do so on a tight schedule.

Business, Education, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Mentorship, Productivity, Success

What You Need to Know about Finding a Business Mentor

Running a small home business (that hopefully grows into a large business!) is a dream many people share. However, not all people with this dream pursue it.

There are many reasons this is the case, but many people feel they lack the knowledge and experience they would need to build a strong business, and they don’t know where to turn for help.

Luckily, there are many resources available to budding entrepreneurs interested in developing their knowledge and talents. In particular, a mentor can serve as one of the most valuable sources of support and advice for new entrepreneurs. A mentor who has built their own business can share their expertise, answer your questions, offer feedback, provide encouragement, and generally assist you during the early stages of growing your business.

But what do you do if you don’t know any successful business owners who would be willing to act as your mentor? How do you meet people who would be willing to mentor you? The following tips can help you find a mentor who will help you launch and grow your business.


Attend Networking Events

It’s important to understand that you shouldn’t think of your business mentor simply as a resource to help you achieve your goals. You can only benefit from mentorship in the long run if you have a genuine relationship with the person helping you grow your business.


Start your mentor search by attending networking events. Trade shows, conferences, professional organizations, university alumni groups, events hosted by local business incubators, and small business development centers (SBDCs) all offer great opportunities for networking. Don’t try to find a mentor right away at these events. Instead, focus on meeting people and developing relationships with them.

Volunteering is another good strategy for finding a mentor, particularly if you volunteer with an organization that’s related to your field. Even if you volunteer with an organization outside your field, you’ll still meet plenty of people from many walks of life, all of whom can teach you something new and expand your personal network. And of course, you’ll also be giving back to your community.


Use Online Resources

If you’re only looking to pick up a specific skill, consider that you might not need a mentor for that purpose. There are plenty of learning resources available to you online, including sites like, Udemy, Khan Academy, and others. Community colleges and university extensions often offer online classes as well.

However, the internet is also your friend when you’re seeking a mentor. Online services such as MicroMentor and SCORE mentoring are designed specifically to connect business mentors with mentees. You may also want to try looking for local groups on Meetup focused on careers and business networking.


Ask Friends & Family

This probably seems obvious to you. Of course, if you already know someone who has successfully grown a business, you would have likely asked them to serve as your mentor already.

However, even if none of your friends and family members have ever owned a business, they might know someone else who has. There’s a good chance one of your friends is also friends with a business owner, and you just weren’t aware of it. So if you ask your friends and family if they know anyone who could serve as your mentor, they may be able to set up a meeting with someone.

This point underscores an important truth about networking: even if a connection can’t directly help you, they can probably put you in touch with people who can. Increasing your primary connections exponentially increases your secondary connections and your odds of finding the help you need.


Contact Owners of Similar Businesses

You obviously don’t want to look for a mentor who owns a business that would compete with yours. There’s little chance they’d be willing to help you out.

That said, you might consider looking for businesses that are somewhat similar to yours, but not direct competitors.


For instance, perhaps you want to start your own graphic design business. If you’re looking for a mentor, you could research similar creative businesses in your area to find a mentor. Because the nature of their work is similar to yours, but not similar enough to make them a competitor, you might reach out to the owners of these businesses to ask if they’d like to take you on as a mentee.


An Essential Point to Keep in Mind

As the above tips illustrate, finding a business mentor doesn’t need to be as difficult as you might assume. However, you do need to remember a key point when developing this type of relationship: the relationship also needs to be valuable for your mentor.

There are plenty of instances when mentors simply enjoy the rewarding experience of helping someone grow a business. However, even if your mentor is helping you for altruistic reasons, you should still ask yourself how you can help them. Maybe you have a different form of expertise they lack. As they mentor you in business, you could mentor them in another area. Maybe you could introduce them to a helpful connection, or you could provide your business’ product or service to them free of charge.

Business, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Organization, Productivity, Technology, Work at Home

Home Business Blogging Tips You Need to Know

You probably already know that your small home business needs a website if it’s going to survive in the long run. Although there are exceptions, customers go online when they’re trying to find a business. Without an online presence, you’re missing the opportunity to connect with these customers.

That doesn’t mean a website alone is enough. To leverage yours to its full potential, it often helps to maintain a blog on the site as well. The following points will help you better understand why a blog is important, and what you can do to optimize yours.


Understand the Value of a Business Blog

Let’s be honest: posting consistent blog entries can be hard work. When you run a small home business, you already have plenty of other tasks to occupy your time. Blogging regularly may not seem like the smartest way to use that time.

This is an understandable attitude. However, it’s also holding you back.

A blog is a valuable promotional tool. It helps people find your website: in fact, businesses with blogs receive 55% more website traffic than their counterparts without blogs. This is primarily because the blog helps the website rank higher in Google search results—meaning that when people search for, say, an accountant in your area, your website will appear before your competitors’. A basic website that includes your physical location, hours, contact information, and descriptions of your products or services is essential, but a regularly updated blog gives people even more reasons to visit your site repeatedly. A blog can also help you establish a brand identity and position yourself as a knowledgeable authority in your industry.

Blog CMS

Blogging is also valuable because it’s cost-effective marketing. Depending on the platform you use to host your site, blogging features may even be included. That means blogging costs nothing more than time, if you do it yourself.

Just remember that your blog needs to feature genuinely informative, interesting content in order to deliver value. The following tips will help you do just that.


Provide Value

This is by far the most important principle of content marketing. You need to give your readers a reason to visit your blog. Yes, you’re using it as a promotional tool, but no one will be interested in your content if you only use your blog to advertise your products or services, or spend every entry rambling about how great you are. While you can promote yourself directly, in general, the blog’s primary purpose is to help you maintain engagement with your audience.

That’s why your blog needs to deliver value. The way it will do so depends on the type of business you own.

For example, maybe yours is a graphic design business that creates branded imagery for other business owners. Your customers are likely interested in learning how strong graphic design can improve their marketing. Knowing this, you might write blog posts explaining graphic design concepts—for example, “10 Graphic Design Secrets for Attracting Customers” or “5 Ways Colors Affect Customer Behavior.” Your customers can directly use the information in these blogs in their own businesses.

That said, “value” doesn’t only mean “information.” Everything you post should be factually accurate, but there are instances in which the real value might come in the form of entertainment. Perhaps your business involves public speaking coaching. A blog featuring YouTube videos in which people make funny public speaking blunders could appeal to your target audience. There’s a fine line to walk when you focus on entertainment, however; you don’t want to stray too far from your business’ purpose, and you don’t want to appear unprofessional.

What’s most important to remember is that readers aren’t that interested in your random musings. They’re also not interested in blog entries that do nothing more than ask them to buy a product. If you want people to read your blog, give them a reason to.

Blog CMS


Ensure the Writing is Strong

Not everyone is a naturally gifted writer, and that’s okay. However, a blog needs to be relatively well-written. The prose doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, but it must clear and concise.

Take your time to write strong blog entries and to check them for spelling and grammar errors. To make your writing the best it can be, read your blog post out loud to hear how it sounds—or even better, have a friend or family member critique it. You can also hire a freelance writer. They can create blog entries based on your outlines or notes.


Maintain a Consistent Voice

The writing in your blog should be clear and readable, but the tone and style also matter. Your tone and style should mirror your brand.

For example, if you run a small B2B consulting or accountancy firm, you might want to write in a more restrained, professional tone. This lets your clients know you take your work seriously. On the other hand, if you create jewelry or art and sell it online, the tone of your writing can be more conversational and casual. Most importantly, the tone should remain consistent across each entry. That’s key to maintaining a branded identity.

It’s also important to remember that it takes time to master blogging. Don’t expect your blog to yield major returns right away. The more you practice, the more you’ll understand which blogging tactics are most effective.

Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Organization, Productivity, Success

Adopting a Customer-Centric Mindset: What You Need to Know

Many factors can affect how likely it is that a business will succeed. That said, as the owner of a small business, you can become so focused on the minutiae that you forget one essential truth: you’ll never succeed if you don’t provide your customers with high-quality service.

It’s crucial for all business owners to adopt a customer-centered mindset, as this will help their operations to stay afloat. While you may have a small, home-based operation now, the odds are good that you want it to grow. That may mean hiring new employees in the future. If you’ve already instilled a customer-centric culture in the business ahead of time, your new hires will be more likely to adopt such a mindset early on.

How do you go about cultivating this customer-centered mindset? The following tips will help.


Understand Your Customers’ Needs

In order to build successful businesses, all entrepreneurs need to realize the importance of meeting their customers’ needs. Quite simply, a business cannot survive without customers. Business owners with a customer-centric mindset will encourage feedback from their customers. Customer feedback will help you to improve your products and services. In addition, these interactions will enable you to build a rapport with your customers and could potentially boost referrals from satisfied customers.


Businesses with a customer-centered culture understand that customers always come first and will attempt to tailor their products and services to suit their needs. As a result, you can develop products that are better and easier to use.


Include Visual Reminders Where You Can

This blog has previously touched upon the importance of organizing a home office if you’re running a business from your own home. You need a space where you can focus on your work without distractions.

That said, a distraction-free home office isn’t the same as a decor-free home office. On the contrary, it’s a good idea to add some visual touches that can reinforce your customer-centric mindset.

The nature of the decor will depend on your personal taste (as well as how much space you have to work with). Maybe you’ll put a poster in a visible spot featuring a quotation about the importance of providing the best service that you can. If you don’t have space for a large poster, or feel that it would be too distracting, you could frame similar messages on smaller postcards and arrange them on your desk.

The main point to remember is that focusing on the customer is something you want to keep in mind whenever you’re working on your business. With visual reminders, you’re less likely to lose focus of that important principle when attending to other tasks. Every time you look away from your work, you’ll be reminded of how important customer service is.


Communicate with Your Customers

We live in a fast-paced world. Due to digital technology, staying in touch with one another is easier than ever.

This is a bit of a double-edged sword for business owners. On the one hand, you have the opportunity to coordinate with both customers and your eventual hires more easily when you have several means of doing so. On the other hand, customers now expect you to be more communicative. They’ll hire someone else to provide your services if they can’t get in touch with you regularly.


You can avoid this by making sure that your customers clearly know that they have multiple ways of getting in contact with you. Include all this information on your website and social media accounts, and remind customers of it during your initial interactions. Most importantly, when customers do reach out, you should respond as promptly as you can. They need to know that you take their concerns and needs seriously. They’ll definitely get the wrong impression if they struggle to get in touch with you, don’t hear back in a timely manner when they do, or feel your responses aren’t thorough enough.


Stay Focused on Customer Service

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you’re ever going to fully reach the goal of adopting a customer-centric mindset. There will never be a time when your approach to customer service is absolutely perfect. There will always be room for improvement. Working to cultivate a business culture that prioritizes customer service isn’t about reaching the “finish line.” It’s an overall way of running a business, one that you should put into practice every single day.

business partners
Business, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Marketing, Organization, Productivity, Success

Managing Client Relationships: What You Need to Know

Running a successful home business can be a very rewarding experience. That said, it can also feel complicated sometimes. You may get discouraged if you allow yourself to get overwhelmed with all the tasks and duties associated with owning your own business.

That doesn’t need to happen. Yes, when you focus on the specifics, it is true there are many tasks involved in running a business, from setting a budget to completing projects. That said, succeeding as a business owner is actually fairly simple, even if it’s not always easy. You just need to provide your clients with valuable products or services.

Thus, it’s important to focus on strengthening your relationships with clients, particularly if you perform collaborative, long-term work with clients. You don’t want to constantly win new clients, only to lose them in the near future. These client relationship tips will help. If you’re looking for ways to ensure you don’t lose the clients you earn, keep them in mind.


Treat Them as Unique Individuals

Don’t make the mistake of promising personalized service while treating all your clients the same. You’re much more likely to make the right impression if you get to know the individual needs of each customer, particularly for clients with high-volume needs and/or with whom you will work on an ongoing basis.


For instance, maybe you have a small home business developing websites and content for other businesses. Maybe one of your clients is an attorney. When they need updates to their website, you need to know precisely what their specific goals are in order to deliver a strong finished product. What type of brand do they want the website to represent? Are they focused on attracting local clients, or do they want to expand their reach? How can added content, such as a blog, help them attract more visitors?

The answers to these questions will be different for a client who is an attorney and one who sells apparel via an online store. In addition, for a client who sold apparel, you’d also ask yourself how ecommerce solutions can improve such a website. You’d ask how visuals can make the products more appealing. You’d consider how to make the site easy to navigate for people seeking specific items.

This is key. By treating each client as unique, instead of taking a “one size fits all” approach, you’ll better serve their individual needs.


Know How They Like to be Involved

Another factor to consider when tailoring your approach to each client is the degree to which different clients want to be involved in the process of setting goals and completing projects. For example, maybe some clients want to be actively involved. They contact you relatively frequently, they make suggestions, and they monitor your progress to ensure you’re on schedule. This type of client would likely appreciate if you got in touch with them often to provide updates or ask questions.

On the other hand, you may have other clients who prefer to outsource and truly delegate their involvement. After establishing goals for the project, they’d prefer it if you worked independently, only getting in touch with them when it’s truly necessary to do so.

You’ll make the wrong impression on the latter clients if you’re reaching out to them with every minor question and update you have. Even if you’re well-intentioned, it will indicate you aren’t accounting for their other priorities. As a result, the next time they need your services, they might hire someone else.


Get Personal (to an Extent)

Your initial interactions with clients will usually be somewhat formal and professional. While you don’t want to come across as a robot, you don’t want to be so casual that the nature of the relationship resembles a friendship more than it resembles a client-vendor relationship.

business partners

That said, if you’re going to be working for the same clients for a long period of time, eventually, you want them to get to know you a bit, and vice versa. You’ll reach a point where it’s acceptable to include a little bit of personal information in your communications with them. For example, maybe you want to let a client know your availability is changing because of a family obligation. You might use this as an opportunity to share information about your family members’ interests or hobbies.

Share this kind of minor personal information, and clients may begin to feel more comfortable sharing similar information about themselves. This leads to a closer relationship in which you’re more likely to have their trust. If you are on friendly terms with your clients, it might be easier to address challenges and mistakes when they arise.

The point to keep in mind is that this is all fairly simple. Yes, it takes work to implement these tips, but the importance of client relations can’t be overstated. When you treat each client as an individual, and focus on pleasing them, you’re far more likely to succeed as a home-based business owner.

home business
Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Organization, Productivity, Success, Technology, Work at Home

3 Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews of Your Home Business

People start home businesses for a number of reasons. Some are looking for productive hobbies, while others want to eventually quit their day jobs. In addition, some are merely looking for a way to make a little extra money after they retire.

However, successful home business owners do have one thing in common: a dedication to customer service. If your venture is going to succeed, you need to do what you do well, and you need to do it reliably.

That doesn’t mean every single customer will always be thrilled with the results of your work. If you stay in business long enough, then you may encounter a few customers or clients who were displeased with the experience of working with you. They may even leave negative reviews about your business online if they feel that you didn’t meet their expectations.

Don’t worry if this happens. A few bad reviews are not enough to tank what is an otherwise strong business. You simply need to know what to do when customers leave negative reviews. The following tips will help.


  1. Determine Whether the Review Is Fair

It’s easy to get upset the moment that you notice someone has left a bad review of your business online. You’ve worked hard to serve your customers, and you don’t want one person’s negative opinion to drive others away.

This is an understandable reaction. That said, it may not always be a fair one. There are instances when customer complaints are genuine. You need to determine if that is the case before dismissing a negative review as unfair.

online review

Honestly assessing if a customer has a genuine reason to be unhappy with the quality of your work is beneficial in the long run. First, it gives you the opportunity to correct the problem. For instance, maybe a project took longer than a customer expected. You could refund some of their money or offer to undertake another project at a lower rate. Taking these steps can help you to make the right impression even after a customer has left a negative review. If they feel that you’ve taken steps to address their concerns, they might either remove the review or come back and leave a positive one, stating you did what you could to correct the issue.

It’s also important to remember that no one is perfect. You are going to make mistakes when running a home business. Honestly reading and evaluating negative customer reviews provides you with the chance to identify weaknesses. When you know what your weaknesses are, you can fix them and provide future customers with a better experience.


  1. Solicit Reviews from Satisfied Customers

The types of people who leave reviews online are often the ones who’ve had negative experiences with the business. When a customer has a positive experience, they might not be inspired to take any action. They’ll only leave a review if they feel they’ve been treated poorly.

Thus, one way to mitigate the damage of negative reviews is to consistently ask satisfied customers to leave positive reviews.

That doesn’t mean “paying for” reviews in the form of discounts or other offers. This is unethical. However, on social media, your website, your mailing list, and in person, you have many opportunities to connect with happy customers who may be willing to review your business if you can help them to understand why this is valuable to you. Let them know that these reviews significantly affect your reputation, and if they are looking for a way to thank you for providing stellar service, this is it.


  1. Attempt to Remedy the Situation

Again, sometimes a negative review is accurate. You should respond to it by contacting the customer who left it and seeing if there are any steps you can take to remedy the situation.

Of course, there may also be times when customers leave negative reviews that are simply unfair. Whether due to unrealistic expectations, miscommunication, or a generally negative attitude towards anything they perceive to be less-than-perfect service, some customers leave negative reviews that don’t accurately reflect the strength of your business.

online review

It’s tempting to defend yourself when this happens. You want to step in and let people know a customer’s account of their experience isn’t honest.

Don’t make this mistake. Your goal should always be to appear as professional as possible. Even if you’re justified in being upset over a negative review, you won’t look very good to other potential customers if you’re seen publicly responding to it in a defensive manner. Sometimes, the best strategy is to simply ignore negative reviews and focus on earning more positive ones.

You can do so by working as hard as possible to please every single customer. This is key to your overall success. If you consistently do right by your customers and clients, you’ll eventually cultivate the kind of positive reputation that drowns out the few negative reviews that you may collect over the years.

Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Marketing, Organization, Productivity, Success

You Need to Know about These Inexpensive Ways to Promote Your Business

Running your own home business can be a very rewarding experience. That said, even if you’re a hard worker, you won’t succeed in the long run if no one knows that your business exists.

That’s why you need a marketing plan. Unfortunately, you may be on a tight budget. Getting the word out about your business can seem difficult when you don’t have the money to hire a professional marketing firm.

Don’t worry if this is the case. The following low-budget marketing ideas will help you to get noticed and attract customers without breaking the bank.


Emphasize Content Marketing

Content marketing is effective for many reasons. In general, however, it gives you the opportunity to reach customers on the Internet (and other platforms) in order to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge.

Creating content can also be fairly inexpensive. In many cases, all you have to invest is your time. Ideally, your goal should be to create various forms of content. It’s easier to reach as many people as possible when you have a YouTube channel, podcast, and blog.

That may not be practical in your case. Perhaps you don’t have the skills or experience necessary to create videos or podcasts. While you could hire someone to help, that’s not your goal when implementing a low-budget marketing plan.

It’s more important to focus on creating truly strong content. If you don’t know how to create a video, then focus on writing the strongest blog posts that you can. This is a more effective strategy than trying to create a large amount of mediocre content. Potential clients will be far more likely to take you seriously if they find that you’ve written several detailed and thorough blog entries on your industry than they would be if they found that you’d released countless videos, podcasts, and articles, many of low quality.

wordpress blog


Contribute Content

Don’t make the mistake of publishing content solely on your own platforms. While a strong blog article on your site can eventually attract attention, it may take some time for this to happen if people aren’t generally familiar with your business.

Thus, it’s also smart to reach out to others and offer to contribute content to their platforms. This can involve submitting guest articles to relevant publications or giving interviews on podcasts or YouTube channels.

It’s important to understand that convincing people to allow you to contribute may require patience. If you haven’t established yourself as a known figure in your industry (even if it’s a relatively small niche), people might wonder whether any content that you submit will be worth publishing. You need to be persistent when first reaching out. Eventually, however, you’ll start to find others willing to give you a chance, providing you with the opportunity to promote your business to a wider audience.


Use Free Digital Channels

The digital revolution has provided business owners with access to a wide range of marketing channels that weren’t available in the fairly recent past. Best of all, many of these channels are free.

Social media is one example. With Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms, you can regularly share updates with your followers. If you create and share strong content on social media, as well, then others might share it with their own followers, enabling you to spread the word about your business to an even greater degree.

It is true that social media marketing takes time. You need to post regularly and consistently to engage your followers. Luckily, many tools can enable you to automate your social media posting schedule. Consider this if you’re looking to save both time and money.

You should also use your social media accounts and website to encourage your customers to join an email list. Email remains one of the most effective marketing channels because it allows you to cultivate genuine, long-term relationships with customers. It’s another low-cost option that can nonetheless yield a high return on investment.



Participate in Online Discussions

The Internet is home to discussion groups devoted to just about any topic you can imagine. Sometimes these groups are hosted on popular social media platforms (such as Facebook), and other times they exist on their own dedicated websites.

Make a point of finding discussion forums related to your line of work. Actively participating in discussions is another way to let people know that you have a certain degree of expertise in your field.

However, don’t make the mistake of promoting your business excessively in discussion groups. Doing so will make the wrong impression on potential customers. Instead, you simply want to provide value. This will enable you to build a reputation. Eventually, when you are comfortable with your reputation as a valued member of a discussion group, you can bring up your business.

Most importantly, don’t worry if you have a small marketing budget. The Internet has made it possible to spread the word about a business without spending a lot of money. These tips will help.