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I shared this a few years ago and recently was asked for tips and lessons we’ve learned over the years. So I thought I’d dust this off and share again.
Last night a friend sent me a picture that was a reminder of how blessed our family is to work from home. When we got married we really didn’t have any plans on being small business owners, but God had other plans and through the last 10 years we have been blessed to see our family grow closer as we’ve been able to move to working from home.
I know many others have the same goal of being able to set your own schedule and spend more time at home with family. If that’s your goal then let me share some things we’ve learned over the years.
10 Tips for Starting a Family Business
1. Be Passionate & Unique
The longer you spend in the business world, you will notice that a small fraction of people come up with ideas and the rest of the world tries to make money copying those ideas. It is sadly this way in most market areas. If you are just starting out, then start out strong and be in the idea creator! Find a problem that needs to be solved, and something that no one else is doing. The more passionate you are about your niche the more you’ll enjoy your work, and the more people will see you as an expert to listen too. People can see passion and it will make a big difference on how far you go!
2. Get On the Same Page
If this is truly going to be a family business then you need to all have the same goals. This seems simple, but really it’s not. If you start off with different goals and visions then your dream of a business that brings your family closer will never happen.
This is one point that we had to learn the hard way. Southern Savers was my passion from the start but we never thought it would grow or be a business, it was just a hobby. As it got bigger I poured more time into it, but my husband hated it. Our family was almost to the verge of falling apart. It took us coming together and getting a common vision for things to turn around. Today things are much stronger thanks to long conversations and hard decisions 11 years ago.
3. Remember That It’s About Family
One more point here… if you are starting a business to spend more time with your family, then do that! Set time limits to your work, hours that you don’t turn on a computer or answer emails. If the two year old responds to you calling her name with “hold on mama let answer this email” you may have a problem.
4. Pick a Good Name
We can all think of businesses that have horrible names. I know the people that came up with them think they are great… but they are probably the only ones. Your name should be memorable, have something to do with what your company does, be short, and most importantly have an available URL. Even if you have a local business you need a website in today’s world and if the domain name is taken you can have some large problems with trademark issues. Head to Domain.com and see what domain names are available.
5. Market Yourself Everywhere
Just because you build it doesn’t mean anyone will come. You have to market yourself harder than you do anything else. I don’t mean taking out ads, go with free options first. If free options don’t cover it for you then go with paid advertisements.
Send press releases and pitch local news anchors with stories. Go outside your comfort zone and pitch stations outside of your city too. Many will do Skype interviews so you never have to leave home!
Be on social media – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Even if you aren’t ready yet, sign up for an account to secure your brand name on each platform.
Make some videos for Youtube. This is huge for a few reasons, not only are tons of folks on Youtube, but it also factors into search engine results for Google.
Local Businesses need to be active in the community! Join the Chamber of Commerce by regularly volunteering etc., the more people see you supporting the community the more they will love supporting you.
6. It’s a Visual World
Along the same line as marketing, is realizing that pictures sell products. Skip the words and make awesome graphics. Think about billboards you’ve seen recently, so often I pass them and haven’t gotten to read 1/4 of the sign they put so many words on it. You don’t need expensive software or schooling, there are a number of online free photo editing programs that work perfectly.
Having good pictures will also increase your social media reach exponentially! The more people see you, the bigger you grow.
7. Take Care of Your Staff
When you grow large enough to need help, hire people with a goal to keep them. Treat them as part of your family. Taking care of them doesn’t have to cost a fortune, be mindful of their needs and what keeps them motivated. This tip I learned long before owning a business when I was a nurse in the hospital. It’s very easy to know when you are considered a dime a dozen and easily replaceable. Your staff needs to know that you value their time off more than your own, and that their concerns have merit. Why? Because the better you treat them the more they will take ownership in their work. Your passion will rub off on them and they will be passionate about your business too.
8. Get a Good Accountant
I wish this didn’t have to be a tip… but in today’s economy you will save yourself a lot of headaches and a lot of taxes if you start off with an accountant. Honestly unless you went to small business school there is no way that you will know to file every form required and pay every random tax due. I’m not going to go any further because for most small business owners (myself included) this is a very painful and agonizing topic. Just take the advice.
9. Ask For & Take Advice
If you have trouble accepting feedback, then you may want to rethink having your own business. Asking for help and accepting feedback are crucial for growing a business. Not only will you possibly need investors, you’ll also have customers that have great ideas that will help you grow. Don’t put yourself in a box and not be willing to listen to others, most of time they are trying to help and want to see you grow!
10. Don’t Compare Your Journey With Others
Remember tip #1, to be unique? Hold to that as you plan and grow your business. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. I’ve shared this in the past with folks that are just learning to coupon, it’s true in all walks of life. Comparing your progress with others usually leads to frustration and disappointment.
Do you have any other tips to share with folks that are just starting a business?