Is Working at Home right for YOU?

If you are being faced with the dilemma of having to return to work, you can rest assured that are not alone! 

Whether your maternity leave is coming to an end or a single income just won’t cut it anymore, most Mums will (at some stage in their lives) be caught in the crossroads between balancing work and the kids.

For this reason, many Mums turn to starting their own business working from home. For those who are entrepreneurial, this can be dream solution as it can offer the closest thing to the best of both worlds. 

The problem is that too many people fall in love with the image of a smiling Mum working in front of a laptop with a cheerful, well behaved toddler sitting on her lap. While this is a very pretty picture to imagine, the truth is that working at home isn’t always rainbows and smiles. As a matter of fact, there are many..err..challenges that often go untold. 

Here I will discuss some of the biggest issues and solutions that may help. 

Challenge #1 – Productivity VS The Kids, Chores and other Distractions

As a parent, it usually goes without saying that you love your children and they will ALWAYS come first. There will never be a job, business or project more important than attending to their needs. 

So when you have a 6 month old baby screaming, a 2 year old who is trying to climb up the china cabinet, and a very bored four year old whinging in your ear, it is very easy to get distracted from your work tasks at hand. 

While your children may have been the major factor in your decision to work from home, it doesn’t always make juggling both any easier.  

Furthermore, there will always be laundry, ironing, dirty dishes and rubbish that will continue to pile up.  Chores will always be part of any normal household but a very big distraction you do not need while you are trying to get work done. 

Luckily, there are some things you can do to:

  1. Get help! – This is a potential solution if you are time poor and are simply overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. Why not delegate some work tasks to a virtual assistant or hire a cleaner? You are working to earn money after all, so why not invest in a little bit of help to offload some of the stress?
  2. Keep a tight schedule and stick to it – Dedicate specific hours for the kids, work, chores and everything else you have on your plate. This will help ensure you can focus on each task and get stuff done. 
  3. Consider childcare – While sending the kids off to childcare might seem to defeat the purpose of working from home to be with them, it might just be the perfect solution for you and the kids. Freeing you for even just a few hours a week will give you some solid, dedicated time to work on your business. It will also provide the children with some time out of the house and exposure to fun, safe and educational activities with other kids their own age.  

Challenge # 2 – The Blur between Home and Work Life

When you are a salaried employee, you usually have a physical, clearly defined separation between your work and personal life. 

If you decide that working from home is for you, you will have to accept that the line between work and home will be blurred and sometimes completely erased. You will need to understand that when working from home, your personal issues could significantly intrude on your work – and vice versa.

There may be times for example where your toddler races towards your ringing phone and answers a very important client call. 

If you’re the type to work on the kitchen table, you probably will need to take extra care to prevent things like juice or food spills on important documents you are working on.

If you allow customers to come and meet you in your home, awkward incidents such as the family dog jumping (or in my embarrassing personal experience, humping) on a client’s leg can occur.

If your work does not involve much client interaction, you may still come across some issues such as never being able to switch off! Many work at home Mums stay on work mode way beyond 5pm. These Mums are at a very high risk of suffering from stress and burning out.

Get the picture?

One solution that might help with this is allocating a defined amount of time and space in your home just for the purposes of work. 

This time and space should not be used for anything else but work, and furthermore you should not work any other times or anywhere else in the house.

Doing this will create a stronger physical barrier between work and home which will not only ensure the safety and security of your work, but make it easier to switch back to ‘Mum Mode’ at the end of your work day.  

Challenge # 3 – Isolation and lack of Adult Interaction

When you’re working from home, you spare yourself the pain of things like office politics and work related disagreements.  On the flip side, when you don’t have any coworkers to have meetings, friday night drinks or random chats with by the water cooler with, it can get undeniably lonely! 

If you ever find yourself talking about income building strategies with your toddler, or discussing marketing methods with the Fedex delivery person, then you are probably suffering from work at home isolation!

The remedy? Make a little time to socialise.

Friends, Family or even your local Mother’s group are a great outlet to reduce the loneliness. 

You can also look for online communities or other groups of people in your area who are like minded and share common interests!  By doing this you are able to connect with people who are just like you, share experiences, learn and help others too! 

Challenge # 4 – Reduced ‘Prestige’

For some reason, some people have a tendency to perceive a business to be ‘less professional’ if the location of the business is a residence. 

Perhaps this is because it makes the proprietor appear like they are just starting out (so can’t afford office premises yet), less experienced and therefore less capable of providing superior service. Whatever the reason, this issue can cause home business operators to potentially lose prospects to the competition who operate from offices. Lost prospects equals less revenue, so this is arguably a very serious issue. 

A popular solution for this is to rent a Virtual Office. For a reasonably low cost, a virtual office can provide you with a professional identity without the hefty expense of office rental. Packages can usually include a corporate postal address, secretarial and telephone answering services, meeting or conference rooms and other office related functions which can create the impression that you are operating from a prestigious business location.

While working from home can provide some unbelievable perks for the right people, it isn’t for everybody. At the end of the day, it’s what works for your family that matters so it is critical to be aware of what it’s really like before jumping in and deciding whether it’s for YOU!

3 Easy Steps to Creating Your First Product

For coaches in nearly any field, product creation is the best way to:

  • Reach a wider audience
  • Grow your brand
  • Earn more profits

So why aren’t more coaches adopting the product creation strategy? Like you, they’re stuck in the process, unsure of the steps to take to create a great product.

Step 1: Identify a Need

As a coach, you have great insight into the wants and needs of your ideal client. You chat with her on Facebook, answer her email questions, respond to the comments she leaves on your blog, and even work with her one-on-one.

What is it she needs the most help with right now? This is the product you should be creating, because you already know you have a built-in audience.

Step 2: Gather Your Documentation

If you’ve been coaching for more than a few weeks, chances are you already have all of the answers required—all you have to do it organize it. Some places to look for content you can repurpose include:

  • Your blog
  • Your emails (and autoresponder)
  • Your client calls
  • Your social media accounts
  • Your YouTube channel
  • Your personal checklists and worksheets

All of these things (and many more) can be edited and organized into a comprehensive product that solves a serious issue and you can do it in less time than you might think. After all, you already have the bulk of the work done!

Step 3: Create the Solution

Now that you have your content, it’s time to put it together in a way that will make sense to your audience. Will you…

  • Write a Kindle book? This is a great option for solving a very focused, single problem. Even better, Kindle books offer a fabulous opportunity to reach a wider audience.
  • Create a membership site? For a comprehensive, step-by-step course, you can’t beat the flexibility of a membership site.
  • Offer a group coaching program? Add personal time with you to your membership site and you’ve got an instant group coaching program. Not only that but you’ve dramatically upped the value (and cost) as well.

Your choice will depend largely on the scope of the solution. Is it a simple answer that can be explained in a few pages or is it a complex issue that requires several weeks of work?

Creating a product doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Sure, you can design a massive, all-inclusive course if you like, but when you’re just getting started, that’s a daunting prospect. Instead, work with what you already have and you’ll have your first product up and selling in no time.

How to Easily Graduate From Coach to Product Seller

Coaching is an awesome career. You get to spend your time helping people achieve their goals in a very real way. It’s exhilarating and oh-so-rewarding!

But at some point you begin to ask yourself, “How can I reach even more people? How can I help more people reach their goals?”

The answer? Create and sell self-study programs.

Think about it. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for you to coach everyone who needs you. Not only that, but not everyone who needs your expertise can afford you, and not everyone has the time to invest. And even if they have the time and the money, they may not be willing to work one-on-one with a coach. Some people prefer the DIY method but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them.

It just means you have to reach these people in a new way, and for many coaches, that means creating products.

Easy Product Creation for Coaches

Here’s the problem many coaches face when it comes to creating products: They get stuck in the doing. They’re so accustomed to guiding their clients on the phone or via webinar that they have a hard time putting together a step-by-step plan without that feedback they get on a live call.

How can you know what people need if you’re not talking to them one on one?

The answer is right in your own life, in the processes and systems that you use day after day, and it works no matter what your coaching niche is.

Weight loss coaches are nutrition experts with loads of go-to recipes and plenty of exercise routines. All they have to do is write them down and package them into a 6-week or 9-week self-help guide.

Business coaches run a business, and chances are you have dozens of checklists and worksheets and other documentation that your clients would love to get their hands on. Brand them, bundle them, and get them up for sale.

Life coaches have done plenty of work on their own well-being and growth, and likely have goal setting strategies, affirmations, confidence building techniques, and tons of other self-help ideas to share.

These are the very things your market needs and wants from you, and it’s the perfect way for you to reach a larger audience. The lower price point means you’ll attract a whole new market—many of whom will “graduate” from the DIY approach to one-on-one coaching…with you!

If you’ve wondered how to expand your reach without working more hours, product creation is the answer. If you’ve struggled to earn more profits without working yourself to death, product creation is the answer. And if you’ve ever wanted to be of service to those who can’t afford a one-on-one coach, then product creation is definitely the answer.

And sharing your personal systems is the easiest way to create products your market wants and needs.

The Hot Selling Program You Can Create In an Afternoon

How many partially completed products, books, and group coaching programs do you have sitting around on your computer?

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, the answer is a resounding “far too many!”

And frankly, the reason you have all of those incomplete books and programs isn’t because you don’t know your subject, or because you’re a poor writer, or even because you don’t have time.

The real reason is because you’re overthinking the whole process.

You’re buying into the belief that you must:

  • Create something from scratch
  • Create something that looks just like every other program in your niche
  • Create something so comprehensive and massive that it encompasses every aspect of your subject, from soup to nuts.

And every one of these beliefs is holding you back from creating the exact program your market is looking for—and it just happens to be something you can put together in an afternoon (or less) with the content you already have on hand.

Step 1: Identify The Problem

This is not a huge, overreaching problem such as “how do I build a mailing list” but rather a single problem that has a single solution. So rather than trying to solve the problem of list building, try solving the problem of setting up a mailing list.

It’s a single problem that you very likely have the solution for right in your business documentation.

Step 2: Define Your Process

Using the example of setting up a mailing list, chances are you have worksheets and checklists for your VA (or you) to follow. It’s a step-by-step plan that walks you or your team through the process of setting up a new mailing list.

For someone who’s struggling with getting their first autoresponder set up, this simple documentation can be a real lifesaver.

Step 3: Share What Works

That’s it! Package up your already existing business documentation and viola! You have a new product you can get up for sale in a single afternoon.

The only question now is, why haven’t you done it yet?

3 Reasons We Love the “Peek Over Your Shoulder” Style of Coaching

How compelling is it when you see this on a sales page?

“Peek over my shoulder while I…”

It doesn’t matter if the seller is demonstrating how to bake a cake or how to build a website, we want to see. There’s just something intriguing about the opportunity to see an expert do what she does best. And that’s just what makes these types of products best sellers in nearly every niche.

  1. We want our methods justified.

We very likely already perform the tasks this “over the shoulder” product teaches but we question if we’re doing it the best, most efficient way. Is there a newer method that works better? Is there a less expensive or time consuming technique? Or do we know a better way (that feeling of smugness is its own reward)?

By purchasing the products that show us exactly how others work, we’re finding out how we can work better, while still building up our confidence.

  1. We want the tried-and-true approach.

When we’re just starting out (or even if we’re not) it can be helpful to cut through all the trial and error and get right to what works. After all, if you can skip the months and months of learning—not to mention the expense—why wouldn’t you? If you trust that the seller really does have it all figured out, purchasing the over-the-shoulder training can be a great shortcut and you can always refine the methods as you go.

  1. We want to know the “secrets” of the pros.

Occasionally, we fall into the trap of thinking that there must be a “secret.” If only we had the right template, we’d finally be able to write that novel. If only we had the right interview questions, we’d finally be able to find a VA. If only we had the right dating profile checklist, we’d finally get a date.

Of course, there’s more to success in any niche than a checklist or template, but when we can dig into what is proven to work for others, it gives us that boost of confidence we need to continue moving forward.

So next time you see a product or program that offers to share an expert’s proven system, ask yourself why it seems so compelling to you. What’s triggering your interest? Chances are, it’s one (or more) of these reasons.

3 Proven Ways to Market Your New Business

The world is filled with great ideas and broke business owners with fabulous products but no sales.

The fact is, ideas are not what drives most business success. Marketing does. So before you quit your day job to branch out on your own, it pays to have a solid marketing plan in place. Start with these 5 ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Free Webinars

For information product sellers, coaches, and service providers, one of the best sources of new clients is in free training webinars. No matter what your niche, the promise of in-depth training at no cost is enough to entice potential clients to part with an email address (which you’ll be able to market to later) and an hour of their time.

Not only that, but webinars are a fantastic way for those potential customers to get to know you better. And the better they know you, the more likely they are to buy.

Content Marketing

Not comfortable hosting a webinar? Hit the keyboard and start sharing your thoughts and ideas via your blog, ebooks, guest articles and other written content. For internet marketers, this gives readers a taste of what they can expect from your product. If you sell physical products, it provides the perfect opportunity to share usage tips and other important information with your buyers.

Of course, there’s another important benefit to content marketing, too: search engine optimization. Google and other search engines index the words on your website and use the information to present search results to their users. Content marketing is a tool you can use to make the most of these results, and to bring more potential buyers to your website.

Paid Advertising

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google and plenty of other sites all offer paid placement, and with today’s powerful analytics tools, it’s easy to create ads and drive traffic inexpensively. Consider starting with Facebook, since the cost is low and it’s easy to target your ads to your ideal client. Once you’ve perfected your funnel, you can branch out into more costly ads with a larger reach, such as Google AdWords or another ad network.

Don’t limit yourself to these three marketing methods though. There are dozens of others you can try, including affiliate programs, JV partnerships, automated funnels, direct mail campaigns, and even television advertising. The key is to keep testing and tweaking to make the most of every marketing effort, so that your business continues to grow.

How to Have a Stress-Free Business Launch

Let’s face it, the last thing you want to do now that you’ve decided to finally leave the 9 to 5 job is to add more stress to your life. Isn’t that why you decided to build your own business in the first place? You’re looking for freedom from your awful boss, nasty coworkers, and the limitations of a fixed salary.

But if you’re trading all that in for a different kind of stress, what have you really gained? Before you kiss your cubicle goodbye, be sure you first build a solid foundation—and we don’t just mean business-wise.

Build a Financial Safety Net

Nothing stresses us out quite like worrying about money. Whether you’re concerned about those college tuition bills you’ll be facing in a few years, or worse, not sure how you’re going to make the rent, it’s easy to lose your business mojo. As a new business owner, you certainly don’t want money trouble casting a shadow over your entrepreneurial dream.

Before you turn in your resignation, set aside some cash in case of a rainy day. Aim for at least three months of living expenses but more is definitely better. Hopefully you won’t need it but having some cash on hand will definitely relieve the pressure of having a new business that’s not earning its keep—yet.

Make Sure Your Family is on Board

Money troubles are bad, but there may be one thing that’s worse: an unsupportive (or downright hostile) spouse. And as any entrepreneur will tell you, not everyone understands the drive to be a business owner. In fact, most people find it pretty scary to step away from that regular paycheck to chase after a dream.

If that sounds like your husband (or wife) don’t take it personally. They’re not making a statement about your ability. More than likely, they’re just worried about what the future holds. Do your best to understand where they’re coming from, and be sure to clearly explain your ideas, why you are confident it will work, and how you plan to cover the start up expenses and manage the risk.

If he or she is still not on board, consider starting slow, with a part-time business while still working your day job. That will give you the opportunity to prove your idea is workable, and might just help your spouse get as excited about it as you are.

Take Time for YOU

No matter what’s going on with your money, your spouse or your business, you need to be sure to schedule some “you” time. No one can work all the time, regardless of how driven you are. And no one can stay healthy while maintaining a nonstop schedule. Go for a walk, hit the gym, get a pedicure, or just binge on your favorite brainless television show. The point is simply to take time away from your desk to rest and rejuvenate. Without it, you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed and stressed, even if you truly love your new business.

3 Surefire Ways to Create In-Demand Products and Services

If there’s one thing that holds promising entrepreneurs back from launching their business, it’s this: a lack of confidence in their products. Sure, you think that new course or workshop is a great idea, but how do you know it will sell?

Imagine spending weeks or even months of time—plus the cost of document design, video editing and all the other pieces that go along with it—only to discover it’s not what your audience wants or needs.  How frustrating would that be?

You don’t have to leave it to chance, though. There are plenty of ways to test your idea before spending the time and energy on a full launch.

Just Ask

This is the simplest way to get a feel for what your market needs and wants. Simply ask them. Create a survey with Survey Monkey (or even a Google form) and send it out to your mailing list. For best results, keep it short, but do ask:

  • What they’re struggling with
  • Their preferred learning method (video, text, audio, etc.)
  • What they feel the training is worth (what would they pay)

These three pieces will tell you everything you need to know to create a program that’s practically guaranteed to sell.

Listen to Their Complaints

If you have a community (or are part of one) of ideal clients, pay attention to what they’re asking about the most. These are the things they need help with. For example, if you’re a business coach and your Facebook group is filled with questions about running Facebook ads, then clearly there is a need for some training in that area.

Study Your Competition

Hopefully you have a list of competitors and you’re reading their blogs and emails, and lurking in their Facebook groups. This is a great way to gain insight into what they’re doing—not to copy them, but to discover what’s hot right now.

Consider buying their paid products as well. Again, you should never copy them, but you can either:

  • Promote them as an affiliate
  • Create a better, more comprehensive version
  • Create a lite, lower-cost version

Creating products in a vacuum is a great way to waste a lot of time and money on programs that won’t sell. Instead, pay attention to what your market is asking for, find out what they’re willing to pay, and delve into your competition’s offers. The information you gain from these three activities alone will give you incredible insight into your market and what they want and need, and make it easy to create your own hot-selling program.

Build a Business, Not Another Job

Many people dream of working for themselves, being their own boss, and having the freedom to only take on clients and projects they love.

What they don’t realize, though, is that there is a huge difference between building a business and being self-employed.

Business owners scale their income. Self-employed people trade dollars for hours

Business owners leverage the skills and talents of others. Self-employed people rely only on their own skills.

Discouraged yet? Don’t be. Every business owner started out self-employed. Just don’t stay there. These tips will help you build a sustainable business instead of just another job.

Don’t Try to Do It All Yourself

Building a sustainable business requires that you leverage the talents and time of others. While it might seem cost-effective to simply do everything yourself—especially in the start-up phase when you likely have more time than money—it’s a path to burnout and stress.

Instead, separate your tasks into those that you love and are especially suited for (such as marketing) and those you dislike and aren’t good at. Then make a solid plan to get those that you aren’t good at off your list of things to do. If you feel like you can’t afford to outsource it all right now, start with what you tend to procrastinate the most on, even if it’s just a few hours each month.

Don’t Allow Yourself to Work All the Time

The trouble with working at home is that you live at work. And that means that there’s no clear line in the sand between your work day and your home life.

Since there’s always work to do, it’s easy to find yourself working every available moment—often to the detriment of your family relationships.

You can help avoid this by:

  • Setting—and maintaining—clear work hours
  • Having an office with a door you can close when you’re done
  • Scheduling time for family and other activities
  • Taking time for yourself

Vacations and Downtime Are Important

Don’t create a business that requires you to be “in the office” every day. At the start, you may need to be available more, but you should definitely be planning for the day when you can be “off the grid” for extended periods of time.

  • Have trusted contractors who can handle things when you’re not available
  • Leverage automation tools such as autoresponders and autowebinar systems
  • Create repeatable systems so you’re not always re-inventing the wheel

While you might not be able to hit the road with no internet access for weeks at a time, at the very least you should be able to reduce your workload to a daily check-in.

Sound impossible? It’s not. With some forethought and planning, you can create a team—and the systems they need—to successfully run your business without becoming overwhelmed and overworked.