If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, the desire to govern your own workday and work hours, and to be your own boss, starting your own small business may be the right path to take. Launching a new business not only requires skill and passion for a particular service or product, but it also requires planning and establishing good habits from the beginning. The “sharing economy” is an ever-growing and popular plan for people who want to start a small business. The idea of the sharing economy is to use technology and the internet to rent to or share things with others, thereby cutting in-person transactional costs.
Establish a Business Blueprint
A good idea can only take you so far. On the days when your motivation is low, you will need a solid business plan to fall back on. In the beginning stages of launching a business, to avoid later burn out and losing sight of the big picture, you will want to establish a business plan that reviews your business from every angle and idea. A business plan should project three to five years ahead and detail how the company intends to reach its yearly goals, including revenue.
Who Are Your Customers?
Before investing all your time and money into a product or service, a small business owner should evaluate the market and confirm that there are people interested in paying for what you have to offer. Understanding the market you are seeking to attract will not only prevent future blunders, but it will also set your business up for success. You should ask yourself some important questions. Who is our market? How big is our market? What trends affect our market? How do we reach our market? By answering these questions, you can develop marketing strategies to communicate the identity of your business and the value of your goods or services in the most effective manner.
Start Spreading the News
Once you know that you have a good product or service that can stand the test of time and meet your goal, then it’s time to amp up your marketing and advertising. No one can spend their money on something they don’t know exists. No longer are the days when you need to put out a television commercial or run a newspaper ad to advertise your business. The best marketing and advertising tool in the digital age is social networking sites, which are free to use. With such a vast audience at your fingertips, you can post your product, vehicle, home, bed, etc. for rent and watch as people respond. Companies have begun to link small business owners to consumers by launching applications and websites that allow you to post what you are renting while charging a nominal fee.
Avoid the Common Mistakes
The sharing economy is built around trust and reviews. Your small business needs to be built around a product you are proud of and that is pleasing to your consumer. No longer are the days when a company or brand is simply trusted by existing. Before you will see recurring customers or a rise in clientele, you will need to see some good reviews.
Just because someone is renting your room or lawn mower — and you’re not letting go of the asset — it doesn’t mean you’re not making income. Various governmental entities are catching on to the sharing economy and are starting to implement regulations. It’s important to keep yourself informed and continuously educate yourself on rules and regulations that may affect your business. As with any other income driving source, even though you are not receiving an income statement, it’s important to report your earnings and pay your taxes.
Create an At-Home Workspace
While the sharing economy mainly revolves around the asset and/or service you are attempting to rent, you should invest in creating an at-home workspace. Setting aside time to work on finances, marketing and advertising, business goals, and communication will be easier to do if you have a designated place within your home to retreat to, and where everything you need is in one area. Your workspace can consist of one desk in a small area of your home to an entire room. Depending on what you’re renting, you may need space for the objects you’re renting out (i.e. clothes or instruments). You will need space for a computer or computers to facilitate your transactions, communications, and marketing. As your small business grows, your workspace may also grow, and you may need room for one or more employees or independent contractors. Investing in your workspace will save you time and money in the long run and help establish structure and smooth transactions.
While there are many perks to being your own boss, there are several obstacles as well. You will not always be motivated to work and working from home can present many challenges even to the most focused. Setting designated office hours to work on different tasks throughout the day and week will help focus your business and drive your business plan forward. Working from home can also mean more distractions, whether it’s family or friends, pets, or your bed calling your name. Having a workspace that is separate from distractions, where you can isolate yourself and focus on the tasks at hand, will help keep you on track. The perk of working at home is that you have control over your space and environment. It’s important to establish good habits and boundaries early on.
In this day and age, with the right drive and attitude, anyone can be a small business owner and experience various levels of success. Whether your goal is to make some extra side income or to launch a career, the opportunities are endless. Technology has made it easier than ever to communicate to consumers at low to no cost and to make a profit. With a few tricks of the trade and planning, you can enter the small business world and succeed.