Working from home selling products online sounds idyllic to some: There is no boss breathing down your neck, there are no face-to-face clients to please and you can choose your working hours.
There are plenty more benefits to owning your own eCommerce store or making a living by selling on eBay, but unless you take your work seriously, success won't come easy.
If you are just getting your business off the ground, or if you are an old hand, make sure you implement the three points below in order to help your business succeed.
1. Believe in your products
I have around $5,000 worth of stock stored away at my house. It’s been there for almost two years and I’ve never sold any of it. Granted, I haven’t tried and I’m sure I could sell it if I actually listed the products online. But I haven’t, because I don’t believe in the products.
It’s the quality of the products that bothers me. I want to fill my store with beautiful, quality products. The $5k worth that’s collecting dust in my garage just doesn’t meet the brief.
I’ll sell these eventually but I won’t be doing my usual 100% mark-up that I add to most products I sell. And I probably won’t enjoy selling them as much I as I enjoy selling products that I love. Instead, I might feel nervous about my customers being disappointed in the products.
Learn from my mistakes
So how do you avoid this? Well number one, you should always order samples of products before you buy them. Granted, I did this, but I was over enthusiastic and even though my gut told me the products weren’t exactly what I wanted, I was blindsided and rushed into ordering.
Learn from my mistakes and order samples, and give yourself a good week or longer to think about them. Post pictures on Facebook and ask your friends for their opinions on the products (or even better ask your existing customers if you have a Facebook page for your business).
If you’re not in love with the products, or you wouldn’t feel proud selling them to your family or friends, think twice.
2. Treat your at-home work space like a real office
When you work from home, it’s too easy to start sleeping in, working in your pajamas and attempting to ‘work’ while you watch TV.
Get real: Working from home isn’t retirement and it’s likely that when you work for yourself, you’ll work the hardest you have ever worked before... but you will reap all the benefits!
When you work from home, the potential distractions are endless, especially if you have children at home also. The trick is to set up boundaries and let your family and yourself know that between x hours, you are at work. During those hours, you can’t be disrupted unless it’s an emergency or you are taking a scheduled break.
If you can, set up an area where you can work solely such as a spare room or a dedicated office space. Keep this room for work and only for work. When you are taking breaks or not on work time, try to avoid this area so that when you are there, you are in work mode!
3. Get motivated and treat it like a real job
This kind of ties in with what I’ve already talked about above. Too many people think about working from home as being a relaxed lifestyle with sleep-ins, a passive income and a light work load. Sadly, this isn’t often the case. Here are the best tips I’ve read to get motivated and treat your work at home like a real job.
- Get dressed every morning. Wear a shirt and tie if that makes you feel like you are at work. At the very least, put shoes on. There’s something psychological about wearing shoes and I know a few great people who run great businesses from home who swear by this.
- Set your work hours and schedule your breaks. Just like in most regular paid employment, you should have set work hours and you should have allowed rest breaks. Stick to these as much as possible while working from home. The hours don't have to be the same every week: I schedule my week on a Sunday and figure out what hours I can work when. If something changes and I need to deviate from my plan, I make sure that I make up the hours later so that I don't slack off.
- Make sure you get a decent lunch break and get away from your computer.
- Schedule time spent away from the house and with other people. This is especially important if you live alone. It could get mighty lonely spending the working week with just your computer. Reward your hard work with a mid week lunch date with a friend or pack up your laptop and head to a cafe or library to get some work done in the company of others.
- Limit your browsing time. When you are in paid employment, it’s a lot easier to avoid websites like Facebook, Pinterest and other idle browsing. At home when you work for yourself with no boss breathing down your neck, it’s not so easy. Instead of trying to kill yourself with self-discipline, use free website blocking software such as Self Control (for Mac) or Stay Focused (a Google Chrome extension). These let you choose which sites you want to block and for what hours. For example, you can set it so that during 9am-5pm, Facebook and Twitter are blocked, but outside these hours, you can access them as usual. You can also set them up so that you can have 15 minutes per day, or however long you allow yourself, for browsing and the rest of the time, you won’t be able to access them.