This is a guest post by Liz from EtherSpeak, Inc.
Rolling out of bed, stumbling into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and booting up the computer before even brushing your hair – this is the image of a stay at home blogger.
It’s an unfair characterization and unfortunately this image is cast on bloggers and other home based workers. Yet, is this image really unjustified?
Have you ever asked yourself how you tend to present your business image to family and friends? Maybe some of these perceptions are not accurate – but it comes down to just that – perception.
Perhaps, if this is the case for you, it’s time to start treating the home work environment a bit more like a typical work place.
Although working from home can lend itself to various comforts, it can sometimes inadvertently stimulate an environment which promotes a less than professional and serious atmosphere, thus making an individual wonder why they just simply aren’t getting everything on their To Do list done (if they have one), or why business hasn’t brought in the traffic or revenue expected.
Learning to exhibit the same behaviors and ways of thinking one would have with an outside job should be the first step to turning your work at home environment into a more productive and structured business model.
How Are You Marketing Yourself As A Professional?
Without professionalism, the odds of your business succeeding are greatly diminished – at least for the long haul. Professionalism is in essence a form of marketing as it has to do immensely with presentation and first impressions by clients – albeit your readers or customers – is something to take seriously.
Professionalism is more than appearances; it is a way of thinking, a way of living. How do you decide to tackle your To Do list, handle an upset customer or a negative or rude comment left on your blog? If you’re serious about your business, the answer should be… professionally.
The Value Of Consistency With Your Work Schedule
Having a known set time to start working helps define your work day. Knowing that you begin at 1PM every day lets you know when you need to eat lunch, it lets you know what time you’ll be ready to break for dinner. It lets you know when to get the most important emails out, it lets you know when it’s a good time to work on new material – it is in essence a heads up on what to expect throughout your day.
The greatest benefit to having a consistent schedule is that it creates an environment in which you can plan and prepare for the items you want to accomplish. This is a form of organization and if held to properly, you will eventually see an increase in productivity, creativity and a decrease in stress.
The Importance Of Professional Business Supplies And Equipment
What do office supplies have to do with blogging or any other at home profession? Easy – it has a lot to do with it because it all comes down to business image – from the phone service to the letterhead.
Just as you need to keep a professional appearance and attitude, so should your business materials and equipment. Promotional materials are more than free giveaways, banners, etc., anything that is tied to your business is a reflection on who you are and what you do. It’s important to take seriously.
For example, if you work from home do you use your home line to make business calls? When a prospective customer gives you call, do you really want the call to go to a home answering machine?
Using the phone as an example, there are a few options one can choose.
This international company Skype has revolutionized the telephony industry by changing the way phone calls are made over the internet. Everyone knows about Skype – it’s extremely low cost and even free when made from one Skype user to another. In addition, it works through an internet connection allowing users to avoid paying for additional phone lines.
The only disadvantage to Skype is that you need to buy additional Skype compatible hardware such as headsets and phone handsets if you don’t want to always use the computer. However, the costs are still relatively low and can often fit in the budget of a small business.
For the medium size businesses (such as real estate brokers, or SEO firms) they should consider a more advanced form of VoIP called SIP (session initiation protocol). This is different than Skype because it uses a different set of protocols for sending and receiving signaling packets over the internet. It is more secure and can provide regular telephone quality service – sometimes better since it is digital.
The downside is that you need to go through SIP trunking providers just as you have a telephone provider. This service ranges in price and is usually based on the number of call paths, or in some cases by the number of minutes – like a cell phone.
A third option is to use your cell phone. The obvious negatives are all about the quality of the call. If you expect to do quite a bit of phone calling with other business members or clients or prospects, make sure your cell phone has impeccable service, otherwise you’ll come off looking terrible.
However for those who rarely do any phone calling because their work is strictly behind the scenes such as SEO marketers, link building services, web developers, etc., a cell phone would probably suffice.
Staying Focused Is Skill, Not A Gift
In his book Midas Touch, author Robert Kiyosaki talks about the importance of focus. It is something we have to learn, just as even Donald Trump, had to learn. For example in his book Mr. Trump recalls how he learned early on the dangers of a lack of focus.
Instead of focusing on managing his business deals, he lost focus and turned to other things. As a result he noticed that his business was hurting and he had to reevaluate where he was putting his attention. Once he did, his business began to turn around for the better.
Focus is not something we are born with – we have to be disciplined and learn to master the art of focus. Many of us work well over 10 hours a day and to suggest we aren’t focused can be insulting. But it’s not always about being unfocused, it’s about being focused on too many things.
Whether turning your attention to party nights on the town rather than meeting a deadline, or deciding to expand the business into an additional direction, the fact of the matter is that we must stay focused on the task at hand.
At the end of the day, evaluate what you have accomplished and what you did not complete which was on your To Do list (hopefully you have one). If you find yourself coming up short, take to heart the principles discussed above and try adjusting your own perception of working from home. Creating a professional atmosphere, being armed with proper business tools and maintaining a focus driven attitude, you will be able to do more and achieve more than you thought possible.