In the delightful comedy, “The Proposal,” when threatened with deportation to Canada because she allowed her visa to expire, Sandra Bullock, who plays a major publishing executive, glibly replies, “Oh, that’s no problem – with video-conferencing, I can easily do my job from Toronto for a year.”
Hey, if Sandra can do it, so can you! However, convincing your boss of such a proposition might result in as little success as Sandra was able to negotiate – i.e., none! So… what’s a visionary like you supposed to do? How about Plan B?
Plan B Rules
Do you have an idea, or a specialty, or a passionate interest? Whatever this may be, there are probably thousands of others like you—or even tens or hundreds of thousands. You could become the provider of products and/or services for all these other people who like what you like, or need what you need.
Snazzy baby gifts? Travel-on-your-own plans? Books and materials for home-schoolers? Or maybe a nicely packaged supply of those incredible peanut-butter-rum balls for which your Aunt Ruth gave you the secret family recipe. What you love most and do best could become your own distinctive path to a stay-at-home job that you will find fulfilling and through which you can earn money.
Here are nine critical tips for how to get up and running without “betting the farm” on the outcome.
- 1. Don’t quit your day job. Remember it pays the bills, covers that inevitable unexpected ‘rainy day,’ and allows for that occasional shopping splurge!
- 2. Start small. Believe it or not, Donald Trump did. So did Warren Buffet… and Martha Stewart! Commandeer space in your basement, your garage, your guest room. Use your home phone or your cell phone as your business contact, as well as a free yahoo e-mail address. Advertise in free publications, on local free bulletin boards, and on free on-line web sites.
- 3. Keep costs down. A word of caution here. Whatever you initially specifically plan to allot for start-up cost – double it – yes, I said double it. Once you accept the fact that I’m not hallucinating, you’ll thank me for this piece of advice.
- 4. Less is more. Resist having the latest, gaudiest, most expensive gizmos and gadgets associated with your money-making idea. Here you have to be smart enough to know how to distinguish ‘would be nice to have’ tools from ‘absolutely essential tools which will produce the most efficient return on investment.’ (I know, I know. You really want to impress your customers by delivering your scrumptious secret recipe peanut-butter-rum balls on a Harley, but a Zephyr will do just fine for now!)
- 5. Test drive your product or service on family and friends before you offer it to unsuspecting clients whose expectations may wildly exceed your abilities to deliver! Translation – use your family and friends as guinea pigs – they’ll be far more forgiving, since, not only are they not paying for your service or product, they already know you and like you! This strategy enables you do deal with any unanticipated kink that may rear its ugly head.
Do the Work
Now that you’ve pinpointed the place, product, and price, here comes the hard part. You need to get serious about doing the grunt work involved in getting your product or service ready for market. CAUTION! BEWARE! WARNING! RED LIGHT! It’s never as easy as you thought it would be; whatever can go wrong will go wrong; and your potential brainchild will take twice as long to bring to fruition as you first anticipated. So…
- 6. Exercise self-discipline. You never anticipated how fraught with distractions working at home can be. “I’ll start after my morning coffee… when I finish the cross-word puzzle… as soon as Regis and Kelly sign off.” No, that’s a recipe for failure. Remember that you are now your own boss – be especially hard on yourself. Set aside certain hours for serious work, and don’t deviate or allow yourself to be deterred by real or imaginary distractions.
- 7. Insist on quality control and consistency in your product or service. How many peanut-butter-rum balls have I sequentially made perfectly? How many did I have to ‘sample’ before I got it right? How long did it take me to do so? How much rum and peanut butter and chocolate did I sacrifice to reach this perfection point? (And most important of all – how much more of this decadence can my waistline endure??!!) I daresay you won’t lack an audience willing to act as your ‘control’ and ‘experimental’ groups when it comes to ‘test-driving’ peanut-butter-rum balls!
Be the Best, Be Distinctive, and Make Yourself Known
The Internet if huge, and the offerings on it can be overwhelming. How’s a guy or gal going to stand out? And how will anyone know you are there? These are key questions about which you will need to come up with a plan in advance.
- 8. Be responsive to feedback. Believe in yourself, your product, your service, but make adjustments as needed to ensure that you delight your customers. So your rum balls are too sweet, too bland, too ‘rummy’, too ‘runny’, too firm, too floppy… Be humble and thick-skinned enough to persevere through criticism. Sooner or later – voila! The perfect specimen, secret formula that you will protect and duplicate.
- 9. Distinguish your product or service in some way. Provide some small ‘hook’ that disarms and charms your potential clients. It might be a baker’s dozen for the price of 12… or coconut covered specials… or theme/holiday designed platters. Keep your product/service surprising.
Imagine – all this from a humble beginning in your garage, basement, attic or guest room! Move over, Martha, Donald and Warren! It’s my turn to make money from my stay-at-home-based business.