Do a fast search on Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine and you’ll find tons of resources claiming to help you “make money online.” You’ll read about success stories, people who have tried and failed, and others who will tell you that all work-from-home, multi-level marketing, or any other non-traditional work arrangement is a scam.
So, what’s the difference between those who succeed at building a home-based business and those who fail? It might be surprising to learn that it’s not luck, skill, connections, or even perseverance. The answer is a straightforward secret that once known will virtually ensure your success. Here’s the secret … treat your business like a business, not a hobby or thing that only needs your occasional attention.
5 Ways to Stop Treating Your Business Like A Hobby
1. If You Consistently Make Money (or you’re working to do so), You’re Building A Business
It doesn’t matter if you earn money through pay-per-click ads on your blog, promote products and services as an affiliate, or create and sell your own products, you are still running a business, and treating it as such will help ensure you reach your financial and lifestyle goals. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “I’m just a blogger” and letting that self-limiting belief get in the way of building a sustainable business. If you want to be in business and you’re disciplined in doing what needs to be done in order to build a profitable business, you can be in business. Period.
The first step in building a successful online business is to simply acknowledge the fact that you are in business – and to start treating your time that way. Start by setting and sticking to regular business hours. If you make a habit of going out for long lunches or spending the afternoon shopping, your business will quickly begin to suffer. Instead, make a commitment to yourself, your family, and your business to work a certain number of hours each day, just as if you had a job working for someone else. While the hours you choose to work when you run your own business might be more flexible than if you had a traditional job, you’ve got to put in the time if you’re going to have success.
2. Put the proper legal structure in place.
Establishing the appropriate legal business entity is an essential part of being in business. This could mean applying for an EIN (employer identification number) and operating a DBA (doing business as) as a sole proprietor or it could involve setting up a limited liability corporate (LLC) with members, or corporations with shareholders and stock options. Establishing a legal structure is important to be in compliance with laws and regulations – and also to help you start to think like a business owner – not a hobbyist. Taxes are something no one likes to think about, but understanding the tax ramifications of the different legal structures is critical to your financial health. You should always consult with an attorney and/or an accountant to determine the best structure for your business. Among other thing, this will determine how and when you pay taxes. For example, as a sole proprietor or LLC, you may be required to pay quarterly estimated taxes or annually. If you establish a corporation, you may have to establish a payroll (even if you are the only employee) and pay taxes accordingly. Legal Zoom is a great resource for learning about corporate structures and also establishing one when you are ready. Click here to learn more from Legal Zoom about the legal structure that are available for your business.
3. Know the Rules of Your Local Municipality.
If you intend to work from home, you should check with your local municipality to make sure you are legally allowed to have a place of business in your home. Some counties restrict business activities in residential neighborhoods, but in most cases, unless you have clients visiting your office frequently, you shouldn’t have a problem. Whatever the case, you need to know the law before establishing your home-based business.
4. Get Insured
Finally, consider investing in insurance to protect your personal and business assets. This is important for freelance business owners, bloggers, affiliate marketers – as well as people who create information products. Here’s the thing, insurance is not only for protection from lawsuits. Insurance can also protect your income if you cannot work. Consult an attorney to help you determine which type of insurance you need, and in what amount.
5. Be Intentional
A lot of people want to build an online business because they think it’s going to be easy and less structured than a typical “brick and mortar” business. While this is true in many ways, if you want to be financially successful and make a big impact on the world – you treat your business like a real business from day one – and keep it up in the days to come. If you don’t do these things, your business will eventually fail.
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Every effort has been made to include accurate information in this article; however, we advice and encourage you to consult an attorney, account or other professional before following any of the information provided in this article.