Starting a Home Business – 5 Things You Must Do Before You Start

I’m the first person to just “jump in” to something without preparing properly. Like when I joined the gym after months of being sedentary. I marched right in to an hour long class of nonstop weight-lifting followed by an intense abdominal routine. Not smart! I completed the class, and could barely walk out. My legs were buckling beneath me, and for the next several days I could barely move. Every single fiber of my being screamed in pain. Well, maybe some of us are just risk-takers, but sometimes not preparing is just plain stupid and counterproductive, and can produce major consequences. This article will tell you a few vitally important things to do before you officially “jump in” to a new online business.

1. Set up an office space – Even if the space is small (mine started out with a laptop on an end table and a portable file box!), have a designated area just for your computer, a printer, and some file folders. You will be accumulating a LOT of information (especially if this is a new venture for you), so while it doesn’t have to be perfect, it should be organized in a way that you can find what you need quickly.

2. Computer backup – Learn how to back up your system and do it regularly, especially once you start accumulating and creating material. If you have a computer with a CD-RW drive, you can copy folders and documents from your computer onto a CD. Over time, you will accumulate hundreds of important documents and emails, so I highly recommend creating a backup CD once a week. If you use Outlook for email, you can export all your Personal Folders to a single file (usually “outlookbackup.pst”), which you can then copy onto a CD or somewhere else on your hard-drive. There are also secure online backup programs, such as Mozy.com, which offers a free account to backup your system. The program runs automatically, and setup is a piece of cake.

3. Organize your computer files – As you start your online business, you may get overwhelmed at the amount of information that will come at you. Before this happens, start setting up file folders on your computer to organize it. You will learn quickly about eBooks, and will no doubt receive many offers for free material that will help you in building your business. Wherever you keep documents on your computer (typically “My Documents” in Windows), set up a folder system to organize everything that you save on your computer related to your business. For instance, create a folder called “EBOOKS”, and within that folder, create subfolders to organize your eBooks and title them with the author’s name or the topic of the eBook. Other folder ideas are “Articles,” “Website Projects,” “Keyword Research,” “Blogs,” etc.

4. Organize your Email – As you start your online business, emails will come pouring in. Whether it’s for an affiliate program you sign up for or from various accounts you’ll need such as your webhost, you’ll need to have a system to organize them all. If you use Outlook, set up accounts not only for your personal email, but also for email accounts you will create for your website. That streamlines all accounts into one program for easy access. For your business email, set up a separate folder called “Business” under “Personal Folders,” NOT the Inbox. That way, emails you get from your website go directly into that folder and never get mixed up with your personal emails. Also, set up subfolders within your Inbox like “Receipts,” “Website,” and “Affiliate Programs,” to help keep things separate and easy to find. If you don’t know how to add folders, the simple way is to first open up Outlook. Under “Mail Folders” click once on “Inbox,” then right-click, and scroll down to “New Folder.” It’s that easy, and you’ll be so glad you did it. (You can also set those subfolders up in your Business folder.)

5. Organize your time – Starting a new business is a time-stealer. You will find yourself saturated with new information that you may or may not be eager to learn, but it will take TIME to learn, nonetheless. It’s easy to get tunnel vision and initially overlook other responsibilities. It is hard to balance, so you must make a plan before you start. Remember your responsibilities with family, your work (if you have another job), home, etc. Make sure you have the support of friends and family in starting your new business because you will no doubt see a decrease in the time you spend with them. If they are supporting you, they will be more understanding when you can’t devote the time they’re used to. Set aside slots of time just to study or work on the computer, etc. It will be better for you and your friends and family if they know what to expect.

And one other crucial thing to remember is to take breaks. If you’re starting an online business out of desperation to make more money, this is especially important. An unhealthy drive to “hurry and get it done” can cause you to overwork yourself, which will lead to stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and ineffectiveness in your work. Step away from your work every hour or two and breathe, stretch, grab a glass of water or a snack. Take care of yourself!

Taking a little extra time to prepare for the start of your business may seem unimportant at first; but in the long run it will save you hours of work, the headache of lost files and information, give you instant gain in efficiency, plus a major advantage towards the success of your business!