Recession Leads to a New Breed of Website Entrepreneurs
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Earn Money with a Website
There are more than 27 million small businesses across the nation, and it’s a challenging feat to open one after a recession. But in light of constant unemployment news, there is an emerging trend of folks who brainstorm business ideas they launch on their free time — and grow into a full time gig, replacing their desk jobs.
Mary and Dave Morris spent the better half of their adult lives in the corporate world. The two say they came to the conclusion they wanted to watch their grandchildren grow up. But in order to do that, they needed to work for another boss – each other. So, the couple turned turned a bucket list item into a full-time career.
While a home business can be incredibly successful, there are many traps and obstacles along the way. Remember to celebrate each success so that you are better equipped to overcome the hard times. This means having a nice meal out with friends from time to time to enjoy all the work you are doing.
“During the daytime, I had a corporate job downtown working for the state of Tennessee. But in the evening when I came home – Dave and I would sit at the kitchen table and work on our business. Actually, we burned the midnight oil quite a bit,” Mary said.
When working out of your home, always remember to be professional. If you work with clients, dress like you would if you were going to work at an office every day. Your clients will appreciate your professional attitude and hopefully will recommend you to their friends and family to grow your client base.
Ideas launch, companies grow, and entrepreneurs bloom
In 2009 the couple launched the website Porchideas.com. It’s a photo sharing, idea posting website for everything porches. Folks from around the world participate and traffic went from 30 viewers a day to currently 9,000.
Before you hire someone to do a job for your home business, ask your friends and family if any of them have the skills needed for the position. You can save money by paying them with bartering or just a lower wage, and you’ll be helping out people you care about.
“We really put our heart and soul into it for 18 months,” Mary said. “We saw there was a possibility we could leave the corporate world and just work from home. We started earning enough money to where we felt like we could let go of corporate jobs.”
What to consider when launching a website
Contact your friends and family about your new home business and offer them discounts for being your first customers. They will hopefully, tell their friends about your new venture and the word can start to spread. Beware though, as tempting as it may seem, do not spam your friends and family to use your service! It will just end up causing issues.
There is no overhead, no need for shipping, no employees and no cost to the couple. They have two laptops and a small digital camera. The money they’re bringing in is from the increase in traffic, advertisements and their E-Books. Dave attributes their incoming revenue to the fact they picked a very specific niche, and it caught the attention of advertisers. Both Mary and Dave now work from home.
You can write off part of your internet bill on your taxes if your home business is internet based. Be honest as this will protect you in case of an audit.
“When we first started off, we made 72 cents,” Dave said. “The first thing you realize is — if you can make 72 cents today, you can make it tomorrow. And if you can make 72 cents tomorrow – you can make a dollar. If you can make a dollar, you can make two. If you can make two you can definitely make 10. The whole thought process is just – if it is working, just make it better.”
Web design tips
Don’t forget to include a site map on your home business website! It will help search engine spiders find every page of your site, but it will also help customers easily find any information that they’re looking for which may be hidden within your web structure. Keep it easy so they don’t give up!
Viewers who frequent the website say, it is obvious the site is well-organized and user-friendly.
Offer the products you make from your home based business as a prize in a contest. You will get maximum exposure for your business and product, because everyone wants to win a prize. Many businesses who do this see their sales go up, because people are now interested in the item they are selling.
Ecommerce shopping carts with web hosting
“Sometimes when you go to the bigger stores, it depends on what sales person you ask – what opinion you get. But with this website there were so many different ideas, very detailed, very easy to understand – it wasn’t overwhelming to us,” Jennifer Davenport, an interior designer from Murfreesboro, Tenn.., said.
Ensure that your home office is in a location that keeps you free of distractions while you’re working. This means NO children and NO pets! You need to make people, including yourself, understand that your home business is still a “real” job, meaning you’re not “home” while you’re working, and need to focus on your work.
Davenport looked to Dave and Mary’s website to renovate her front porch and build a back screened-in porch.
A great way to start your home business is by joining the Better Business Bureau. Your small business can build credibility this way. Their website is a directory of businesses who have taken high company ethics seriously. By joining them, your business website can be listed in their directory for potential customers to see.
“You can feel and understand their love for front porches,” Davenport said. “I think they would do it for free every day, they love it. They travel around take photos, they share — they love for you to share. It’s just a mom and pop friendly website.”
Small business tips
Open a separate checking account that is strictly for your business. Every single order, income and expense needs to go through this account. You should never use your work account for any personal reasons. It is better to set up a payment amount for yourself, and just write yourself a check that is deposited into your personal checking account.
Dave and Mary say it took a low-risk, think-small approach. And both kept their day jobs until profits rolled in. But it doesn’t have to be a web-only business and you don’t have to spend a lifetime in the corporate world. Tanya Coe and Kimberly Davison only worked in the business arena for a few years before they knew it wasn’t for them.
Understand that being audited is always a possibility for home business owners, and that it is certainly not the end of the world. Instead, keep your company’s business and financial information organized and easily accessible throughout the year. This will make it infinitely easier and less stressful should your business be audited.
The young women started graphologists back in 2009. They started selling gently used clothing. Before they knew it, there was so much traffic and inventory – the opened a shop in East Nashville and expanded their clothing line bringing in new vintage clothes.
As a last resort to combat local zoning laws, you do have the option of fighting back against city hall. You have a number of different approaches available to you. One of the most popular methods is to draw up a petition and collect signatures in support of your business, or you can lobby for a change in legislation.
“We were very reasonable about launching,” Davison said. “We started online – real baby steps. Then when we found our first space we wanted to keep our overhead low. We didn’t want to take out any loans; we didn’t want to ask for money for people. We found people who would help us with little handyman jobs to fix our store. We would trade website work for goods.”
Celebrate your success!
Celebrate your successes with your home business to keep yourself excited and engaged. You may have a long-term business plan you are working towards, but take the time to enjoy the small milestones along the way. Whether it is a target number of customers or a big sale, celebrating smaller successes is just as important as acknowledging bigger successes.
Coe says it was a transition going from a desk job to running her own business, but she made the decision to obtain a higher quality of life.
Keep a record of your business related mileage. You can use this information to receive a tax break. They credit you per mile that you drive, which adds up to a nice sum at the end of the year. Create a spreadsheet to help you with this process and keep a copy in your car to remind you to write down your information at the end of a trip.
“Although there are a lot of benefits in the field I was working in and I did feel very mentally challenged and stimulated, as far as my quality of life — it wasn’t feeling right,” Coe said. “At that point in my life, it was important to me – quality of life is very important to me. I wanted to find what it was that I really wanted to do and what I was really passionate about.”
Go over everything with an accountant and a lawyer when you first open your business. They will be able to tell you about everything you need to do when you have to file for taxes, and make sure your business is legal. Refer to an accountant or a lawyer if you run into trouble later.
Believe… you can be an Internet entrepreneur
To be a successful home business owner, it is very important that you open a separate checking account solely for your business. This would make it easier for you to keep track of each transaction. You can then go to one place to locate your expenses and/or income. Setting a separate checking account for your business should be top priority.
“The hardest transition was just within me and having the confidence and the belief in my business that I could do what I did for other people at corporate jobs for myself with my own store,” Davison said.