COVID-19, coronavirus, the end of all humanity, the death of fun and travel….whatever you might want to call it, the fact is this pandemic we are living in has changed everything.
No matter who you are, or what you do, chances are you have been affected and you had to adjust to a new way of life. While we continue to try to find the new normal, you might still be stuck at home or struggling to find a way to make ends meet. Or perhaps make a little extra cash and make money at home.
Let me ask you this…
Have you considered starting a home based business?
You may not think that starting a business, especially a home based business, during a global pandemic is a good idea (too much risk, too much capital, too many unknowns, not sure what to do, where to get started…), but I am here to tell you that now is the PERFECT time to start a home based business, and one that is profitable and can truly help you realize your financial dreams and make money at home.
Yes, it will take hard work.
Yes, it will require some sacrifice, and yes it will take some time.
But you can do this. Even if you have $0 in your bank account and zero experience.
Roll up your sleeves, pull up your mask and disinfect your hands – let’s get down and dirty.
The “Make Money at Home” during a pandemic (short course)
Step 1 – Develop an idea
There are opportunities all around you – you just may not know it yet. Most people may tell you to sit down and start writing down some ideas, to get the creative juices flowing.
I am not one of those people.
For me, I am at my best when I can pace, or walk, and get some space. I find it daunting if I am staring a blank pad (it is mocking me dammit!!) and putting the pressure on myself to come up with the next big thing.
So I get up and take a walk, just around the block. And I don’t think of anything intentionally. I just clear my mind and allow it to wander. Eventually, a few ideas that start small will flutter in my head. Usually it starts with something along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be cool if….” or “I wonder if….”
Then I just let the idea sort of take off on its own. I let it wander, let my mind develop the idea as it sees fit. Most of the time, I have to reign it in a little, but more on that some other time.
I will usually quickly scribe the idea on my phone, or dictate notes as I walk to just record my thoughts.
If you are having trouble, here are some ideas or pointers to get you going in the right direction.
- Do people ask for your advice on something? Do they come to you when they need help for something in particular?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- If you didn’t have to work, what would you be doing right now?
- What are your favorite hobbies? Or what hobbies would you like to get into?
Sometimes, thinking and letting your mind wander on these ideas helps guide you.
Once you have an idea, the next question or step is…
Step 2 – Expanding (or contracting) the idea
Start small. Start simple. Don’t overcomplicate.
Let me tell you what happens to me.
When I come up with an idea, my mind gets so excited, the butterflies in my stomach flutter 10x faster than usual, and I start going crazy and expanding until the idea becomes huge – the next big thing! A surefire way to…FAIL.
There is simply too much there. I become overwhelmed by the complexity of what my mind has built that it is impossible to start it quickly and build it up. I’ve created a mammoth idea that might be incredible, but there is way too much to do. And with so many tasks, it is tough to even get them all down. And even tougher to get started. And it becomes easy to get discouraged. And discard the whole idea because it was simply too hard, too much to get done.
You think Amazon was built originally with all the features it has now? Or Ebay? Or Etsy? The list goes on and on.
Let’s say you already have a simple idea. Let’s say you want to tell people how to start a business during COVID-19 (ahem….this post). Well, what kind of business do you think they should start? What should they do to get started? How much do you know? What options are open?
By doing this, you are expanding the idea, giving it legs and a life of its own.
Next step, please!
Step 3 – Do I have a target audience? (But really…who cares?)
OK, so you have an idea. Is it profitable?
I don’t know. Do you?
What good is an idea, a product, if it doesn’t have a market?
One of the benefits of a home based business based on information sharing is the overall cost of entry and initial investment is very low compared to developing a physical product. An informational product is one that is shared digitally – it can be a pdf, an ebook, a blog post, an article, etc. Something that a user can get near instantly without waiting for anything in the mail.
It costs you nothing but time to create an informational product.
When you begin to develop and create your product, you need to think who your target audience is and cater to them. For example, if you are writing a blog post on how to start a business during COVID-19 for clueless people (ahem…myself included) you would begin to tailor your product to that target audience. Your thoughts don’t cost anything. So you remove a lot of the risk from starting a business based on information. YOUR thoughts. YOUR ideas. YOUR hobbies or interests or aspirations.
Keep in mind…your product or information you are offering does have to SOLVE a problem or answer a question people might be having. Otherwise, people won’t be compelled to read it or buy it. And the more specific the problem you are trying to solve might be, the more you are narrowing your potential customers (so writing a guide to explain how to get gum out of a Himalayan cat’s fur might sound great and interesting, but you are limiting your audience to people who chew gum, have a Himalayan cat, and spend their evenings practicing their gum tossing skills.
The rest of this will assume your product is information or a service, your knowledge or passion about a subject and doesn’t require inventory.
Now…how do you get the customer the information or service?
Step 4 – Try a delivery method
Notice I said “try” instead of something like decide on a delivery method, or figure one out.
You are going to find that home based business, like so many other things, is finely tuned and adjusted using trial and error. Don’t be afraid to try something. For example, you might decide based on the chewing gum removal from your Asian feline business that a downloadable guide, complete with pictures, is the way to go. Perhaps you start out and find that sales aren’t where they should be. So you might switch it up and try putting the information on a website or blog. And then maybe try a series of videos…there is no magic one size fits all formula. You have try things until you find something that works for you and your product (or service).
While you will no doubt spend a lot of time and effort on each step, this is one that you may find to be the most challenging depending on your experience level and expertise when it comes to information delivery. For example, you may have a lot of experience on writing guides, but none on building a website. Or perhaps you know how to build a website but have no clue how to produce great looking videos.
My advice would be to try what you know first, and adjust as needed. Keep it simple.
For me, I know more about blogging or writing short informative articles and short guides. so I would go with those first. The good thing about this approach is it gives me the chance to try something and change it up rather quickly if I need to.
Step 5 – Build, Test, Get Feedback, then repeat.
This is such an important concept that I am going to dedicate a whole other article or series of articles to it. The idea has its root in the Agile methodology for software development – but really it can be applied to nearly anything. The basic principle is to not only start small, but to strive for more frequent updates and deliveries which directly address your customer’s (or client’s) needs. This goes hand in hand with the last couple of ideas. Rather than wait and deliver a grand product, start small and deliver a product really fast. Then strive to make constant improvements.
To do this you need to get your customer’s opinion, or feedback, on the product.
Don’t be afraid! And don’t be afraid to receive negative comments. As long as you can engage in a constructive conversation with your customers (who in the end are paying you) you can continue to improve.
In a nutshell, here’s how the process would work:
- We have an idea, but are not sure about it. So we start small, and deliver what we know.
- We test the product – how it sells, if there are any problems, etc.
- We ask people for feedback – what do they think of it, how can it be better…
- We take that feedback and tune or create a subproduct that addresses the customer’s concerns, complaints, or feedback.
- We retest, and ask for feedback again.
This feedback loop is critical, because it means you are talking to your customers, listening to their needs, and delivering something they actually want.
And by keeping it simple, you are able to potentially deliver in a short time. This makes sure your business not only stays relevant, but will grow and profit because you are delivering a product customers actually want.
Pretty neat, huh?
One last example, a practical example in real life. Notice the question on this site? (I’ll give you a hint: It starts with “What do you want to learn about home based business?”)
I treat this blog as one of my many home based businesses. You, the reader, are my customers. Your feedback is important to me. So at the end of every post, I not only want to know if an article is useful or helpful, but I also want to know what you think of the site, and what you want to learn next.
By responding, and trying to write about what you want to know, I am delivering (or trying to) a product that you want to read.
So there you have it – the basics of starting a profitable home based business where you can make money at home not only during COVID-19 but any time.