The Key to Building a Successful Home-Based Business – Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset

A successful home-based business is something that many people dream about. With it, they can establish their own work schedule, be their own boss, and save thousands of dollars a year on commuting and other work expenses – not to mention avoiding all that traffic! But the problem these people commonly run into is that they lack the entrepreneurial mindset required to move forward with their business in spite of challenges. They give up when things go sour and they become upset when they fail to generate the kind of income they expected to right away. That’s a natural reaction, but the entrepreneurial mindset requires a reaction of a different sort – and it can significantly alter the outcome of your home-based business.

Entrepreneurs who are successful find that they don’t see problems as insurmountable difficulties. Instead, they see problems as opportunities to be fleshed out and challenges to meet and conquer. They like to think outside the box and to devise new and creative ways to overcome adversity. A successful home-based business is operated by someone who can implement these strategies – someone with an entrepreneurial mindset. When an entrepreneur encounters something that is not going his or her way, giving up is never an option. Changing course is possible, but only out of necessity after considering all the alternatives. According to the entrepreneurial mindset, no decisions are made out of fear, anxiety, or misplaced passion. An entrepreneurial mindset is a positive mindset; it emanates success thinking, and thus it attracts success in the greater world.

If you want to run a successful home-based business, developing an entrepreneurial mindset is crucial. Fortunately, you can train yourself to do this; i.e., it doesn’t have to be an innate characteristic of your personality. You simply need to commit to its development and promise yourself that you’ll never give up, as it won’t happen overnight. For any entrepreneur who is running a successful home-based business, you can be sure that it took time and patience to get there and that the journey was fraught with trial and error. The entrepreneurial mindset won’t make you immune to challenges, but it will show you how to turn these challenges into short-cuts to success.

Generally speaking, the entrepreneurial spirit comes in two different flavors-DIY and KISS. DIY of course stands for Do-It-Yourself, and refers to the entrepreneurial mindset that would rather build everything from scratch. If you do this successfully-think Bill Gates or Steven Jobs here-you can make a massive fortune. The sad reality is however that not everyone has the same drive to succeed as Gates or Jobs. (We all have the same potential for greatness-some of us just don’t use it as effectively as those guys did.)

The KISS approach (for Keep It Simple, Stupid) is generally much more appropriate for those of us who don’t want to reinvent the wheel while trying to launch a successful home-based business. With the KISS approach anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset can look for and find a veritable business in a box that provides a turnkey solution for a successful home-based business startup. Either approach can work-the key is to find the one that works for you.

The Solo Entrepreneur’s Success Secret: Planning Time for Business Development

One of the primary issues about which my clients complain is that they never stop running their businesses. They say their day is an endless cycle of completing tasks for clients, having conversations with prospective clients, and networking to find clients. They know that they need to find some time to plan what they’re doing and where they’re going in their businesses, and the only time they manage to carve out for themselves to do this is late at night with a glass of wine in hand, on Saturday morning in the midst of a child’s soccer game, or on a Sunday afternoon at the dining room table when the kids are working on school projects. How productive can anyone be in that kind of environment?

Normally, when you think of time management, you’re told to put your tasks in 3 categories (A, B, and C) based on priority, with the As being the highest priority, and then do all the tasks the A list. Poof — time management — done! If it were only that easy..LOL

The time management system that I’m currently using is a bigger-picture system, focusing on the overall plan of how you structure your time rather than on the actual tasks, although that does come into play. In this system, you have 3 kinds of days: Rest Days, Profit-Generating Days, and Business Development Days. You can set as many (or as few of these) as you like each week, as long as the total number adds up to 7 for a full week.

I’ve purchased a large laminated wall planner for the current year and a set of colored sticker dots to graphically represent on this calendar my Rest, Profit-Generating, and Business Development Days. I’ve found that having this hanging on the wall in front of me helps tremendously in my planning, and when presented with an opportunity, helps me determine how viable it is in relation to the time I have available.

On your Rest Days, you are free to do anything at all except work-related tasks. You can meditate, veg on the couch, spend time with friends and family, go for hike, or take a vacation. The goal on your Rest Days is to revitalize and rejuvenate your spirit and not think about business, work, or money. This is the first set of days I’d like you to plan for yourself. Yep, you heard me right. Repeat after me, “Pay yourself first.” What works with money also works with time! Currently, for me, that translates into 2 Free Days per week. I then have a number of longer vacation periods kicking in and 3 and 4-day weekends. Remember, all work and no play makes Jill a cranky girl….

Next fill in your Business Development Days, which is the time when you’re working ON your business, not IN your business. The Business Development Days are the most important days for a business owner because they’re serve as your business management days, or time when you focus on finances, marketing, sales, resources, and personnel.

Let me repeat — this is the most important day of your week. You can’t grow and market your business while you’re doing the actual work of the business, so devote at least one day per week to developing and overseeing your business. Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur, Business Development Days are vital to your success. Your business will not be able to grow and prosper without regularly scheduled business development time. My business development day is sacred, and I guard it like the Hope Diamond. Only in extreme emergencies do I let other things interrupt my Business Development Day.

The most compelling reason that Business Development Days are vital to your existence is because without that time, you don’t have any of the third kind of day, the Profit-Generating Days.

Whatever is left of the week are Profit-Generating Days, or the time when you’re actually working in your business, doing the work of the business. These are the days that you’re working with clients, answering their problems and concerns, or conducting other activities in which you’re directly generating revenue. In some businesses this time might be called “billable hours.”

So, my current schedule is as follows:

Saturday and Sunday: Rest Days

Monday and Tuesday: Profit-Generating Days

Wednesday: Business Development Day

Thursday and Friday: Profit-Generating Days

I started this type of long-range planning several years ago, and have found it to be incredibly empowering. I guess I’d fallen into the M-F, 9-5 rut again without realizing it, and spent all that time working with clients rather than spending any time on the business development side and taking a long, hard look at what I really wanted out of my business. What was helpful to me was realizing that I’m not going to always be 100% faithful to this system, as opportunities arise that I can’t control. However, I know if I commit to being 80-90% faithful to the system, I’ll do just fine.

Start planning time for your business development today. Buy your calendar, set aside some time to map out your year, and begin to experience the power of actually being in the driver’s seat of your business.

Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter

Coaches And Consultants – Are You Making Any Of These Twenty Business Development Blunders?

Professionals who market their services can attract more clients by avoiding the following deadly business development mistakes:

ERROR #1: Talking about specialized knowledge more than about solutions.

ALTERNATIVE: Speak your client’s language. Show him or her how you will get specific results that will help their organization, career, or personal aspirations. Demonstrate your ability to provide significant value, in specific, measurable ways.

ERROR #2: Focusing on you instead of on the prospect.

Prospects care first and foremost about solving their problems and taking advantage of their opportunities. Therefore, they only care about you if your experience and knowledge directly and uniquely relates to solving their problem.

ALTERNATIVE: Focus on the prospect’s problems and opportunities. Build credibility and demonstrate value by establishing yourself as the expert who understands the prospect’s situation and ways to get results. Make sure you use the word “You” at least twice as much as you use the words “I/We” when you speak to prospects.

ERROR #3: Letting your achievements or expertise speak for itself.

This is a huge mistake. You may be brilliant, but that doesn’t mean clients will come to you.

ALTERNATIVE: Invest in business development. Reach out to prospects in ways that builds your credibility. For instance, provide education and information that matters to them, and also shows the value you offer.

ERROR #4: Not choosing a specific niche or target market.

This will give you the false security of having unlimited prospects, but ultimately will get you fewer clients at higher cost than if you focus.

ALTERNATIVE: Focus on a specific target market.

ERROR #5: Not reaching your target market effectively.

ALTERNATIVE: Develop a series of messages and strategies that reaches and attracts prospects from your target market.

ERROR #6: Not dominating your target market.

If you don’t dominate, someone else will, and your revenue will suffer.

ALTERNATIVE: Position yourself as the leader by establishing your credibility and authority with prospects. If you can’t be the leader, find or define a new niche.

ERROR #7: Creating an incomplete or non-compelling marketing message.

With a poor message, your business development efforts will go nowhere.

ALTERNATIVE: Develop a complete, compelling marketing message that describes the problem you solve for your market, how you solve it, the specific results you have achieved, and why you are better than anybody else. Be especially sure to highlight your “edge” and why it matters to your prospects/clients.

ERROR #8: Trying to “close the sale” too soon.

Most prospects, especially in the market for professional services, need a series of positive interactions with a candidate before making a decision.

ALTERNATIVE: Provide a series of educational messages to establish credibility and attract qualified prospects to you. Get rid of the tacky “sales pitch,” and follow up with prospects in ways that demonstrate your value. This will establish you as the authority in your field, lead to more sole source deals, and earn loyal clients.

ERROR #9: Making poor use of publicity.

Getting mentioned in the news is an exercise in vanity if it doesn’t grow your company.

ALTERNATIVE: Use publicity to attract prospects to your business, capture their information, and build a relationship with them.

ERROR #10: Not asking for referrals.

Few professionals take full advantage of their opportunity to generate referrals.

ALTERNATIVE: Ask for referrals at key times in the client relationship. Develop proactive referral strategies within your sphere of influence.

ERROR #11: Relying too much on referrals.

Referrals are a fine source of additional business, but they put you in the position of being dependent on others.

ALTERNATIVE: Make sure your marketing strategy includes tactics to attract requests and inquiries directly from prospects, clients and your sphere of influence.

ERROR #12: Competing on price.

This error is a sure way to lack enough high-paying clients to meet your financial goals.

ALTERNATIVE: When prospects perceive you to be the authority in the field, you no longer need to compete on price.

ERROR #13: Forgetting to stay in touch with past clients.

Remember the old adage, “Out of site, out of mind.” You forfeit one of the best sources of profitable work if you forget to stay in touch with, and continue to support, past clients.

ALTERNATIVE: Develop a plan to strengthen your relationships with past clients, maintain their loyalty, and continue to show how you can provide them with ongoing value.

ERROR #14: Providing poor or mediocre service during engagements.

Word spreads fast when you do this, and can quickly destroy your reputation.

ALTERNATIVE: Develop a system to delight clients on every engagement.

ERROR #15: Cutting or delaying your investment in business development, especially in bad times.

This error will only hurt your bottom line more.

ALTERNATIVE: Commit to investing in business development. There are plenty of low-cost ways to attract clients in good times and bad.

ERROR #16: Not creating a simple, clear business development plan that lays out goals and a way to achieve them.

If you don’t set goals, how will you know if you are successful?

ALTERNATIVE: Create a plan every quarter that sets aggressive goals and lays out a path to accomplish them.

ERROR #17: Creating a business development plan that misses some crucial steps in the process of attracting and retaining clients.

Your plan must establish yourself as a credible authority, demonstrate your value to prospects, earn trust and commitment, and keep your clients’ loyalty.

ALTERNATIVE: Evaluate how well your business development plan achieves these outcomes, and revise it accordingly.

ERROR #18: Not taking action on your business development plan.

ALTERNATIVE: Make business development a top priority. Budget time as if you were your own client. One of your primary jobs is business development because if you don’t do that, you won’t be doing much consulting.

ERROR #19: Relegating marketing to an administrative role.

ALTERNATIVE: Marketing should be a core part of your strategy, and handled at the top levels of your organization.

ERROR #20: Not getting help.

Many professionals tend to want to do it all on their own. In business development, this can cause them to repeat common marketing mistakes and get poor results.

ALTERNATIVE: Hire competent professionals who can help you build your business. The investment will more than return itself in results.

I sincerely hope you don’t make these, or other costly mistakes. The market is extremely competitive, filled with professionals who are struggling to attract clients.

Business Development Plan

A business development plan is an essential tool for all prudent entrepreneurs if they wish to remain in business. Just wishing for one, will not get you anywhere. You need to know how it works in order to draft one for your enterprise. A complete business development plan serves three basic purposes: communication, management, and planning.

It communicates the group’s financial strategy and company policy to all outside funding bodies and sponsors. Frequently, it will act as the prospectus of the company to attract investment capital and/or get loans sanctioned. More than a mission statement, the business development plan is a comprehensive explanation of the opportunity. It reveals the profit making potential of the business and helps attract strategic business partners. The plan dwells on all aspects of business activity, anticipates future problems and suggests alternatives as solution.

Company management sees it as an effective administration tool. With the help of the business development plan you can monitor the progress of all the current programs and evaluate the efficacy of your future endeavors. The plan allows you to set timelines and goals. You can compare projected figures with the actual achievements and gauge the progress made. It is a dynamic tool that reflects the growing knowledge and experience of management.

The planning tool is your mentor as you walk through the different phases of your business. A carefully charted plan details all the possible risks and uncertainties, identifying future problems so that you can avoid them with the help of established alternatives. Entrepreneurs today are more inclined to share their business development plan with employees. This leads to a greater employee identification with the stated mission and a better understanding of the goals of the business.