A growing number of Americans are starting home-based businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, 52 percent of all businesses are home-based, and that number has steadily increased in recent years.
Keith Evans, a Florida-based entrepreneur, is part of that statistic, although he jumped on the home-business bandwagon back in 1995.
Evans runs After-Hours Executive, a consulting firm that offers help to new startups during evening and weekend hours.
Evans says he saw a lot of potential in running a home-based business. From saving money on office space to eliminating commute time, he thought his idea for a consulting firm would take off from his home. He was right. With two employees and about a dozen clients, the former telecommunications worker stays busy.
“With fewer expenses I can keep my rates low and can worry less about keeping the business afloat during leaner months,” he says.
Through strategic business planning, Evans plans to bring on more consultants this year and “aggressively grow” his business in 2014.
While his success stems from two decades of experience, Evan says there are several tips he’d like to pass on to others who may want to follow in his home-based business footsteps.
1. Use free or low-cost services to save on monthly expenses
Of course, having a home office means you don’t have to shell out big bucks for office space, but Evans says that isn’t the only place where a home-based business owner can save some money.
“I could probably write volumes about the free and low-cost resources an entrepreneur can use,” Evans jokes.
For example, Evans uses Google Voice for a business phone line. He uses FreshBooks, a cloud-based software, for his accounting needs and uses Wave Accounting to create professional invoices.
2. Outsource jobs to free up your time
Most home businesses start out as a one-person shop, but you don’t have to be a jack-of-all-trades. You can always outsource jobs, Evans says. Sites like oDesk and PeoplePerHour can hook you up with affordable independent contractors. On these sites, you post your project and contractors bid on it. You select the contractor that has the skills you’re looking for and fits within your budget.
“Finding freelancers frees you up to focus on more important tasks,” Evans says. “However, if you have some free time during the lean months, save money and keep your own skills sharp by doing the work yourself.”
3. Join professional groups
One of the downsides to running a home-based business is limited social interaction, so Evans suggests joining professional groups in the area.
“Even the smallest towns have networking groups, and joining them is a way to get out of the house, away from the computer, and in position to enjoy the company of like-minded people,” he says. “Plus, going to these events helps you spread the word about your product or service.”
4. Don’t skimp on marketing
Marketing is a bit challenging for home-based businesses, so it’s important to cough up a few bucks to introduce your product or service to new customers, Evans says.
“As much as every dollar counts, marketing is one area where you need to spend money to make money,” he says. “A quality marketing campaign can have huge returns, especially when compared to the return you see from free ads on Craigslist.”
Your home-based business will require a significant time investment, Evans says, but the end result can be a successful business.