5 tips to being a successful 'homepreneur'

Gargi Banerjee

Not long ago, Marrisa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo!, kicked up a storm when she told Yahoo! employees to “get back to office” because lack of personal interaction was harming work culture. While Ms Mayer’s logic is still subject to worldwide debate, there is a legion of entrepreneurs rooting for ‘homepreneurship’ or starting up a business at home.

The logic is obvious – it keeps costs to a minimum and the comfort factor scores a perfect 10. But it’s not roses all the way. Here are five tips that will help you run a home-based business efficiently and effectively.

1. Get a fix on your working hours

There is nothing more satisfying than being your own boss but it does require an enormous amount of self-discipline to run a home-based business, and there is no scope for slacking. So make sure you chalk out a daily schedule that sets aside solid working hours. Next, stick to it! Take, for instance, Ishani Dutt Sarkar, co-founder HalF2Five, who runs a children’s apparel business online. Sarkar puts is at least eight hours of work every day, including on weekends. “Running an online business means we have to be on the ball constantly, responding to customer queries, checking availability and confirming orders. We can’t shut shop at 6 pm and call it a day, even if we are at home.” To achieve this, Sarkar and her team keep working hours flexible and communication channels open with family members (especially young ones) so that they don’t end up feeling neglected.

2. Involve your family

It is natural for your family to want to know about how you’re business is progressing. Instead of cutting them out and demanding your own space, involve them in your business. Ashwin and Heena, founders of I Wear Me, a designer T-shirts venture, suggest delegating work to younger and responsible members of the family. For instance, if you have a teenaged brother or sister, why not ask them to be your social media or image consultant? Or ask a retired parent to be in charge of logistics. Chances are, with their experience, patience and acumen, they will do a swell job coordinating with vendors and other dispatch staff!

3. Client management? No problem

Clients today are savvy and know that home-based entrepreneurs cannot sustain an office set-up. Still, sometimes, you may need to meet your clients in person, which in a home set-up may be a challenge. Alternatively, some of your clients may be reluctant to meet you at home. In such cases, Heena and Ashwin suggest that you meet at a friendly neighborhood café, where you are both comfortable. “When you do your meetings outside your home in a common place of interest, you tend to strike up better working relationships,” Heena says.

4. Connect with peers

Running a business cannot be a lonely affair, especially if you’re a home- based entrepreneur. So what happens when you hit roadblocks and need to vent or use someone as a sounding board? That’s when you need friends, and who better to advise you than others like yourself? Make the best use of your social networking skills and seek out others like yourself. There are many closed as well as open groups that encourage participation from entrepreneurs. While you may want keep your business strategies close to your chest, participation is such groups will only open your mind and give you an opportunity to meet and interact with other bright young entrepreneurs.

5. Keep away from naysayers

Unfortunately, there are people out there who will advise you to get a ‘real job’ and discourage you with negativity. Much as you would like to mow them down, the next best thing is to stay away from them. Make an excuse and leave the vicinity when you meet an ‘eager-to-help’ relative or neighbour who is ‘out to get you’. Else just ignore them with an ‘I-don’t-care-what-you-say’ grin on your face!

When you’re driven by passion, nothing can keep you down. So forget these crabs in a bucket and go forth to achieve what you have set out to do!

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