Even bloggers like me are not immune from the siren song of a shiny new thing. In fact, we might be even more susceptible. Give me ten bucks and five minutes with a hosting company and I can have a whole site up and running, with only the decorating to be done. Who wouldn’t choose the thrill of a brand new site over the same old same old you’ve been slaving over for the last few months?
The problem is, if you don’t give your baby business–be it a blog or an affiliate site or a Pampered Chef franchise–the time and attention it needs, it will wither and die away, and you’ll be left thinking you’re a failure for not having been successful at it.
Before You Start a Home Business
The best way to keep your focus is to start strong. That means knowing what your focus is before you even begin.
Do your research
Figure out what kind of business you want first, and then get more specific about the details. If you enjoy hosting parties, direct sales might be for you. If you love to write and be social on the Internet, blogging might be your thing. If you’re a wiz at office management you might like to be a Virtual Assistant.
Once you decide on the type of business you want, it’s time to specialize. Direct sales consultants can choose from dozens of opportunities. Whatever your passion is, there’s a product that matches. Bloggers need to choose a niche to blog in, VAs will have to decide what services to offer and to whom.
Write a business plan
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do, it’s time to work out how you’re going to do it. That’s where a well thought out business plan comes in.
Everyone resists this step, but it really is the key to your success. The real power of a business plan is that it will make you think about exactly what you are doing and why you’re doing it. By working through a sample plan or template and taking the time to think about each section, you will have a much clearer picture of your goals and what you need to do to achieve them.
There are a lot of business plan samples available for free on the Internet. Pick one that most closely matches your business type and revise it accordingly. Unless you’re going to be using your business plan as a means to qualify for a loan, you don’t have to worry about sticking to a strict format or filling out all the cash flow projections and expected income. Just fill in the parts that are relevant to you and your business.
Craft your elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is simply a 30 second explanation of your business. Think of it as your business plan condensed into something that would fit on the back of a business card. Darren Rowse at ProBlogger has a great tutorial about writing an elevator pitch for a blog, but even if you’re not a blogger it’s worth taking a look at.
Most people will tell you to craft an elevator pitch so you have something coherent to say when someone asks you about your business, but I use an elevator pitch in a different way. Whenever I have to make a decision about a new direction to take in my business, a new product to promote, or a new website to start, I can pull out my elevator pitch (and my business plan) and see if the new thing fits in with the old thing. If it fits, great. If not, then I either have to rethink my business, or put the new idea on the “someday” list–the list of things I want to do, but that just don’t work for me right now.
After the Shiny Wears Off
Once you’ve had your business for a while, it’s easy to get distracted by the next new thing that comes along. Here are some ways to spruce up your business and make it “new” again.
- Do a redesign. If you’ve had a blog or a website for a while, boredom can cause you to start thinking about other business ventures. Maybe it’s time for a website redesign. Find a new theme, change up the colors, or even just change the header image. Sometimes all it takes to get excited about a project again is to rearrange the furniture a bit.
- Expand your business. Revisit your business plan and see if there are new markets you can target, new products you can sell, or new techniques you can use to improve your bottom line.
- Branch out. Are there complimentary services you can add to your business? A new product line you can add? Maybe an information product you can write and sell from your blog? Keep in mind that branching out does not equal going off in a completely new direction. You want to make sure that your new branch compliments your current business and doesn’t detract from it.
Keeping your business focused and on target will result in a stronger brand and higher profits.
Perhaps even more important, though, is the greater feeling of confidence you’ll have knowing that every business decision you make is well thought out and designed with a clear goal in mind.
Have you ever found yourself losing your business focus? What did you do to get back on track? Let us know in the comments what worked (or didn’t) for you.