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5 Tips for Journaling Your Home Based Business
by Barbara Carr Phillips
Journaling is an effective way to reach your goal of starting your own home-based business. Whether you want to be a freelance writer, a silk florist, an academic tutor – whatever your dream is, journaling your home based business plan is a way to realize it.
Start with a small notebook dedicated to your business plan. Take it with you everywhere. Following are five journaling tips to home-based business success:
Tip #1: Write About Your Big Idea. The first step to save the business venture you have splashing around your head is to throw it a life preserver. What type of business do you want to start? Write your big idea in permanent ink. Write about the advantages to this type of business, as well as the disadvantages. Write about the characteristics you possess that make you the perfect person to operate this type of business, and the characteristics you need to strengthen. For example, if you want to lead summer reading workshops for children, ages 8 through 10, but you don't remember what it is like to be an 8-year-old, volunteer to teach the 8-year-olds' class at church. If you anticipate the downside of your business along with your weaknesses, you will be prepared to overcome them when they arise.
Tip #2: Research. And Again I Say, Research. Go to the library or bookstore and get two or three books about your business. Read a general book about launching home-based businesses as well. As you are reading, take notes in your journal. Interview a few people by phone or e-mail who are operating a similar business. Before you contact them, write the interview questions in your journal. Also record their responses. When I started an academic tutoring business, I called three area tutors and asked them about their qualifications, fees and tutoring methods. This helped me decide how my qualifications compared and how I could better qualify myself. It also helped me to set a competitive fee, and plan activities for my students.
Tip #3: Get Your Finances In Order. You will not focus on building your own business if you are worried about your utilities being disconnected. Sit down with your journal and list how you will get your finances in order. Do you have small bills you can pay off quickly? Are your income and expenses balanced? Draw your financial picture in black and white. Ideally, you need six months of living expenses in the bank before your quit your day job. If you don't have that, hold a garage sale or sell items collecting dust in your attic in the classified ads. Instead of working full-time, work part-time so you have a steady paycheck plus extra time to devote to building your business. List your financial goals in your journal and check them off as you achieve them. Write specifics about how your business will generate the income to support yourself financially. For example, a freelance writer can diversify and tap into several income streams. The writer can write how-to articles for magazines, write a book, teach workshops, speak at events, write resumes and prepare content for newsletters.
Tip #4: Develop a Marketing Plan. You may be the best writer in the world, but your work is not going to get published if you don't know anything about marketing your writing. Take a marketing course at your community college. Check out copywriting books from your library and learn how to create marketing materials. Even freelance writers have to write "sales letters" promoting their work (known in the freelance writing business as "queries"). Take notes in your journal about marketing, and develop a plan that will make people who are not interested in your product and service pause just because you are so creative. Journal about the types of marketing materials you will need. They may include business cards, a web site, direct sales letters, postcards and fliers promoting your business or an ad in the local paper. Get a haircut, eat well and exercise. You are your home-based business, so keeping yourself in good shape will give you confidence when looking for clients.
Tip #5: Brainstorm Session: Who Needs Your Product or Service? Brainstorm in your journal about who needs your product or services. If you don't have any experience in the business you want to launch, give free products and services to a few of these people. For example, my friend, Kelly, loved creating silk flowers and wanted to make it a business. When I was planning my wedding on a shoestring budget, she offered to create my flowers for the cost of materials. She also asked if I would give her one of my wedding pictures so she could start a portfolio of her work. I gladly provided a copy to her. Another reason it is a good idea to give away a product or service is to get feedback from your customers. Follow-up with a phone call, e-mail or reply card. When you get praise for your product or service, write the comments in your journal so that you will remember them and be encouraged. Also, add the testimonial to your web site or marketing materials (with permission, of course). Testimonials are great incentives for others to buy your product or service.
Journaling is the best route on your journey to your goal. Essentially, you are writing your own book about how to start a home-based business. Journaling is not just about planning. It's also about recording the small successes along the way. It's easy to forget time you've invested in a goal and progress you've made. A journal will show you that, day by day, you are moving forward with your plans.
About the Author
Barbara Carr Phillips, journal instructor, believes dreams come true when you learn to journal your way to success. Visit http://journalworkshops.net to order
your one-on-one journaling session or to sign up for her free e-zine.
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