I’ve worked with folks to start a successful home business for several years now, and I’m still amazed at how the process of teaching constantly challenges my assumptions. Being part of another person’s journey has challenged me, again and again, to reassess my own approaches, and reconsider many strategies I once considered self-evident truths.
It’s kind of embarrassing, really.
And if I had to distill the whole humbling process of teaching home entrepreneurship down to one thing it would be this.
Cookie-cutter strategies don’t work.
What you need is your own unique toolkit for earning from home, and finding that perfectly customized combo of strategies will take time, energy, and persistence. Here are a few powerful ways you can kick cookie-cutter solutions to the curb, and get started on the journey of finding your online business groove.
1. Get Informed
When it comes to figuring out what business opportunities to short-list, sales brochures aren’t enough. At best, they’re going to be speckled with half-truths. The promotional literature for any online business large or small will inform you that their approach is fool-proof and easy — and more often than not, it is neither of the things.
So before you leap at any opportunity, find impartial third-party data to get a grasp of the fine print. Ecosecretariat’s website is a treasure trove of objective analysis of how to make money online. Sites like these can save you countless hours of detective work, so take advantage of them.
2. Learn How Your Brain Works
Before you choose what to do, know as much as you can about how your brain processes reality. After all, you are your best asset!
If you enjoy and have a natural aptitude for strategizing and number crunching, the last thing you want to do is to work in a field that leans more toward snap decision making and intuition. If you have a talent for networking and relationship building, likewise you’re going to want to build on that.
This sounds kind of odd, but don’t just assume you know what you’re good at either. Our brains are filled with preconceived notions. Instead, take the time to take some personality tests. You may be surprised by the hidden brain assets you may be sitting on. Here’s a great place to start.
3. Observe What Smart People do
One of the biggest misconceptions about innovation is that it’s the binary opposite of imitation.
Humans are inherent mimickers. Building something new is rarely about plucking a notion out of thin air. Far more often, you encounter multiple ideas and come up with a unique way of combining them. Our species is good at learning stuff by watching and copying each other.
It’s important, therefore, to keep your eyes open. Watch the ideas that succeed and fail in your area, and build on that. Forbes published this list of 25 of the best small business accounts on Twitter. Find people you admire and watch them like a hawk.
4. Develop Your Networks
It’s easy to assume that online business and local businesses have little in common. But local small business owners have tons of knowledge you can draw from, even if they have zero experience with making a sale online.
Joining a small business group in your area gives you the opportunity to forge strong relationships with people near you, and if you’re lucky you’ll be rewarded with a steady stream of on-point advice about how to make a business work — not to mention moral support, which is always a good thing.
Meetup.com makes the process easy.
The nearest city to you is bound to host a handful of useful business groups that meet regularly. These groups are a powerful way to tap into years of hard-won knowledge that you can transfer across to your own pursuits. It’s amazing how generous people can be.
5. Set Your Sights beyond Money
Finally, it’s important to remember that money is only part of the equation. For most of us, the whole point of earning money from home is that we earn some measure of escape from the nine to five grind, and everything that entails.
As you begin to delve into how you can earn money online, it can help to shift your gaze away from the basic question of how much you can “make,” and instead hone in on more subjective questions. What do you truly enjoy doing? What kinds of specific freedoms are you hoping to gain from working from home? What’s important to you?
The answers to these questions form an important compass to help you navigate the opportunities in waiting for you. It’s a cliche because it’s true! Money isn’t everything.
Finding your own way to work from home is a process. Sure, the plans and products out there will definitely help. But the first big step is to get your head right, and this requires a solid combination of introspection, research, observation, networking, and soul-searching. Get those foundational points sorted out and the whole process of building your online income stream will become that much easier.