Many people nurse the dream to start their home-based business. But soon after achieving that dream, they discover that running a business effectively from home isn’t as rosy as they thought. Most aspiring entrepreneurs erroneously think that getting a home business up and running is the most important thing, so they plan only for that. Whereas, running the business effectively is equally as important as starting it.

Whether you are planning to launch your home business or you have started yours but really don’t understand how to run it effectively, these four tips will be of help.

How to Run a Business Effectively from Home / Online

1. Set up a conducive home office

Your first step towards effectively running your home business is to set up a good home office. Your ideal home office is free of noise and distractions. And it has everything you need in one place. You sure don’t want your kids shouting right in from you when you are receiving a client’s call. And you don’t want your desktop computer to stop working suddenly because your pet gnawed on one of its cables.

More importantly, your home office must be organized. You should have an office desk and a cabinet to keep all business related materials. You don’t want to waste time looking for papers when you could be making money working. In addition, your home office must be comfortable. It should be arranged in such a way that you can remain in there for hours without feeling any discomfort. Your chair must be a cushioned type and the whole office must be well ventilated.

2. Schedule when to work

One of the commonest motivators for starting a home business is that you can choose your own working hours; and scheduling when to work is another important step to being effective. You need to set a time to work and a time for other personal commitments.

For example, if you are a mom with two little kids, you need time for your kids. You need time for your spouse. You need time to hang out with friends and relatives. And you need time for other things.

So, you need to set a fixed number of hours of your day for your work while giving ample time for other things, too. How much you will spend daily on your home business depends on the type of business you run. If you are a freelancer whose monthly income is proportionate with the amount of time spent working, chances are that you will work for longer hours than someone who runs a consulting business.

Now, setting your work schedule is one thing. Sticking with the schedule is another. Your work schedule will remain useless if you don’t stick with it.

3. Figure out what to work on

As a home business owner, you have all the control over your business, and you are responsible for whatever fate befalls it. So, setting your working hours, you need to decide what you will be doing at what time. This is particularly necessary for those whose home business involves a range of different activities.

For example, if you are running an Online business, you will need to allocate time for content creation, social networking, marketing, budgeting, blogging, bookmarking, outsourcing, and so on. But if your home business involves just one type of activity—such as when you are doing data entry or graphics design–you may skip this step.

Managing your time between multiple activities can be overwhelming if you have no plan or schedule. So, stick with your plan by working on each activity only during the time you set for it. For example, if you will be responding to emails between 9 to 10 at night, stick with that and don’t encroach into the time set for another activity. Self-discipline is the key term here!

4. Always have a daily checklist

Even if your home business involves handling the same tasks every day, you must keep a to-do checklist. This will help you ensure that you are not missing anything. You don’t want to remember that you have not made an important call to a client when you are already in bed.

When listing out your tasks at the start of each day, it helps to arrange them according to priority, from high to low. Even if you are unable to do everything on your list, you will have done the high-priority tasks first. But remember, there are no co-workers to blame unfinished work on. You are the only one involved!

You see, running your home business effectively simply entails setting up a comfortable home office, scheduling when to work and sticking with it, scheduling what to do at what time and sticking with it, and keeping a checklist of your daily tasks.

How to Run a Business Effectively Over the Phone

In the past, business owners were known by one thing: they work more than their employees. They wake up at night to check the company records to see if things are going on fine. They have to get to the company early enough in the morning as a way of ‘leading by example’. They have to spend the whole of their day at the company because they need to monitor their employees. And they don’t get to leave the company until everyone else leaves.

Interestingly, in those days, the success of a business was attributed to how actively the owner participated in it and how much a workaholic he or she was. And back then, staying away from your business was a recipe for failure.

But now, things have changed. With near-perfect smartphones to the rescue, business owners can now stay away from their business and still run it effectively from a remote location. So, you can be on vacation in another country and rest assured that your business is going on smoothly.

Why are smartphones effective for running a business, even from a remote location? First, smart phones are ubiquitous. Just about everyone (particularly anyone who has a job) owns at least one. So, you can easily connect with your employees, suppliers, customers, and everyone else that matter to your business because they all have smartphones.

Second, smartphones are extremely portable, which means you and your employees or customers can maintain communication anytime and from anywhere. Gone are the days of landlines, when customers have to check your opening hours before making a call. Back then, any call that comes in after you have closed for the day or are away from your office will go unanswered.

Third, smartphones give ultimate return on investment as far as business tech hardware goes. Unless a business has to adhere to some sort of government or industry policy, businesses don’t even have to buy smartphones, because their employees can use their own phones for work. So, gone are the days of having to get an addition phone line and box when a new employee is hired.

So, instant communication remains one of the biggest benefits of bringing mobile phones into business. Communication isn’t all about voice calls, and mobile phones understand that, too. This explains why we already text and email with our phones that many of us rarely make calls anymore! You can now conduct meeting on mobile devices using services like Skype and GoToMeeting. In fact, if you are not using mobile phones in your business right now, you are putting your business at a huge disadvantage.

Enough said about the possibility of managing your business effectively over the phone. Let’s now look at how you can really use smartphones to achieve this.

a. Make calls when necessary-: Just as it has always been, frequent and purposeful communication is the most essential tool you need to keep your business running effectively. You can call your employees to know how smoothly their work is going. Call your customers when necessary. And call your suppliers whenever you need more supplies. This way you will be able to ensure that there are no problems with your business.

b. Maximize the use of smartphones-: Running a business from a remote location has been made even easier by the tons of smartphone applications that mimic the feel of an office without stepping foot in one.

Instead of just making conference calls, you can now make face-to-face video calls and hold video meetings using tools like Skype and Google+ hangouts. If your business handles a lot of electronic information, you can have a sort of file sharing system in place that allows your employees to keep files in a place where everyone can assess them. Dropbox is a perfect application for this.

Other smartphone applications that can make running your business remotely an easy task include Quickbooks for accounting tasks, for customer support, Hootsuite for social media management, and Evernote for note taking and bookmarking.

c. Hire the right employees-: If you would be running your business over the phone, you must be very careful when hiring your employees. You need employees who can perform tasks excellently with minimal supervision and are responsive to communication. In addition, they must be self motivated and willing to take initiative. Without these qualities, your business will never thrive without your physical presence.

Once you have the right team in place, just put down the rules for how you intend to run the business on phone and how you expect your employees to respond to your calls and instructions. With that done, you’re good to go.

Ajaero Tony Martins