Set Up Your Online Business

[typography font=”Amaranth” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#d9761f”]It is your company – you make the rules
Be disciplined, consistent, and focused[/typography]

You can pat yourself on the back – even have a small celebration because you are finally ready to set up your online business and be your own boss. I do not want to rain on your parade, but if you are going to succeed in the new adventure that is located in the Internet Jungle there are some very important things you must do.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Develop a Plan of Action[/typography] 

No smart business person would plunge ahead with a new venture unless s/he had a clear plan in place that included goals (long-term and short-term) and action steps that will move him or her one step at a time toward the goals. In other words, you need a business plan.

Do not let that those two words frighten you – it doesn’t have to be an elaborate fully-fleshed out, professional business plan. I realize that your ultimate target may not be completely clear in the beginning, but you must be clear about what you want to accomplish, even if it is only for the next three months. As you near the end of the three months, you develop a plan for the next three (or possibly six) months.

Your end game should become clearer as time goes by. Be sure to evaluate at least monthly and make necessary adjustments to your plan based on what you have learned through both your successes and your mistakes.

If your goals are clearly defined and refined regularly; and you keep them uppermost in your mind when making decisions, they can bring you back to reality when you may be tempted to take a path that is not in your best interests. They can also save you a lot of money by preventing you from purchasing materials, training, software, etc. that are not directly in line with what you are trying to accomplish.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Have Your Own Designated Work Space[/typography] 

Home office image

You have probably figured out by now that it is important to have you own work space – preferably a separate room with a door than can be closed when you working. If a separate room is not possible, the next best choice is a corner of a room that is used for other things but that has a door that can be closed during working hours. Be creative – a large closet like the one above works very well.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Set Your Schedule[/typography] 

Setting a schedule and sticking to it can be a big challenge for the newly self-employed who are working at home. No one is looking over your shoulder and if you have a family, you have to deal with the possibility of frequent interruptions, noise, and unexpected distractions. If you live alone, you have to deal with the temptation to “watch just one program on TV” or have that second (or third) cup of coffee before you sit down to work.

Your new home-based business is now your JOB! You MUST set up a work schedule. You need a starting time, scheduled breaks, lunch, and a quitting time. You may not always be able to stick to a schedule; but you must follow it as closely as possible every day. You get up each morning, you go to work, you take care of business, and quit at the end of the day. This should be your routine Monday through Friday – exactly as it would be with any job. If you flit from one thing to another, randomly doing whatever comes to mind, you are setting yourself up for problems. Disorganization results in a low productivity.

Just because you are not bound by someone else’s “clock” does not mean that you are free to do whatever you feel like doing throughout the day. In fact, no one making demands on your time is the very reason that having a schedule that you follow becomes doubly important.

A schedule can be as simple as dividing your day into blocks of time and assigning a category of work to each chunk of time. I also recommend that at the end of each day you fill in the tasks that must be accomplished in each category for the next day (always prioritizing, of course).

If you have no idea how to do this, there are many scheduling programs available on the Internet – some of them are free. Personally, I use the Google Calendar that includes daily reminders of what I should be doing at certain times of the day. Depending on your level of self-discipline and your experience in working alone and unsupervised, that may be too broad and open for you. You may want something more structured.

Many of the work scheduling programs come with a built-in ‘to-do’ list option, which can be very helpful and I encourage you to use the option. I know from experience how easy it is to get side-tracked and succumb to the temptations of “doing other things” when you are working at home. A solid work ethic, self-discipline and the ability to stay focused (on-point) are three key characteristics that you will find in all successful self-employed people. If those characteristics are already part of your make-up, you are WAY ahead of the game. If not, the faster you develop them, the faster you will realize the success you are seeking.

Your friends and family may not understand what you are doing and may even give you a hard time about finding “a real job.” When you are sitting in front of your computer all day and trekking through the Internet Jungle – struggling to find your way and protecting yourself from the ever-prevalent dangers, it may appear to others that you are not doing much – and wasting your time.

These people (family and friends) are not the enemy…. at least they don’t mean to be the enemy; nor do they mean any real harm, but since they have never done what you are doing and do not understand the process, they have a hard time seeing it as a real job. They assume that you are unemployed and passing time by amusing yourself on your computer.

Do Not Disturb SignOne of the problems that can develop from their erroneous assumptions is that since you are not busy, you should be available and willing to run errands for them, talk to them on the telephone, or have a pot of coffee ready whenever they decide to drop in unannounced at all times of the day.

These problematic infringements on your time are easier to combat when you are clear about what your goals; and you have work schedule in place that you follow religiously. There should be no question their minds (or yours) about what you are doing. You may even have to lay down specific rules about when you are available and when you are not. A “do not disturb” sign on the door can be very effective. You should also make it clear the only acceptable form of communication is texting, to which you will not reply unless it is an emergency.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Be Disciplined and Consistent[/typography] 

Every worthwhile endeavor requires disciplined consistency of action. I am sure that you have experienced the reality of this at different points in your life; but, it is possible that you have not yet connected the principles of self-discipline and consistency with the process of making money online. But, I guarantee that both are just as important in this arena as they have been in all other aspects of your life.

Think back to when you learned to ride a bike. Remember that feeling when all of a sudden something “clicked” in your head and suddenly you were flying down the street all by yourself with no one holding the back of the bike.

Or – what about when you learned to swim and suddenly everything worked. For the first time you felt the exhilaration of being completely free and powerful in the water.

Such moments of “knowing” are called tipping points. It is when all the hard work and effort come together and tip the scales in your favor. You begin to reap the rewards of your effort. This is when the stress eases, the work begins to flow, and the rewards multiply.

Accomplishing goals of any kind – physical, mental, emotional, financial, etc. – require self-discipline together with consistent and focused effort. You must be willing to invest the necessary time and effort for as long as it takes, without letting up, until you succeed.

Developing this kind of disciplined consistency is usually the most difficult in the beginning. You will never reach the tipping point with your online business if you are not willing and able to put forth consistent and focused effort over an extended period of time. Regardless of what the “Internet Gurus” tell you, online success takes time – it does not happen overnight, or even over a few weeks.

How long did it take you to learn to ride a bike? (Longer than you wanted it to, I am sure.) How many times did you fall in the process? If you were a typical kid, it was probably more than once. What if you had given up after the first fall, or the second, or even the third and decided it wasn’t worth it? The answer is simple; you would never have learned to ride a bike and missed out on one of the great joys of childhood.

As a newbie in the Online business world, you will undoubtedly have your setbacks (falls)…you will experience failures and may frequently feel as if you are in over your head. You may even reach the point where you believe that it is not worth it and you want to give up. Take heart, my fellow jungle trekker; you will be in good company. Practically everyone who ventures into the Internet Jungle experiences the same thing. If you can discipline yourself to remain consistent in your effort and never let your focus falter as you continue to work, you will reach your goals.

At the end of each day, review your successes, no matter how small; make notes on lessons learned; prioritize your list of things to do tomorrow; and put the lions, tigers, bears, and all the other jungle creatures out of your mind for the evening. Turn your full attention to your family, your friends, your hobbies, etc. Relax and refresh you mind, body, and spirit so that you are ready to begin again in the morning.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Keep Work and Home Responsibilities Separate[/typography]

This can be difficult when your office and home are one in the same. There will be some overlap – it can’t be avoided. However, you must do everything possible to keep them separate. As mentioned earlier, you must have a work schedule (office hours) and clearly defined family time, with boundaries set for each.

Word of warning: You may be the one who has trouble honoring family time because as the day draws to a close you may be involved in something that you feel compelled to finish before you quit for the evening. Don’t fall into that trap – the project will still be there in the morning. Family time should be just as important as work hours – both should be held sacred.

You may need to put a lid on your guilt complex (if you have one). You are NOT a terrible person if you don’t take three hours out of your work day to take Grammy to her hair appointment. You may be expected to do it because “everybody else is working.” Be very clear with others (and yourself) – you are also working! Other arrangements can be made – so make them.

You may also need to learn how to say, “No” and to be able to say it effectively. Do not make promises you cannot (or should not) keep when they infringe on your working hours. Learning to say no in a kind, but firm way takes some practice, but you can learn to do it if you are committed to the success of your new business.

Good luck!

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