Is It Possible to Get Through a Recession with your Home Business Intact?
Recession - Things Aren't the Way They Used to Be
We're in a recession. Even if the “R” word hasn't impacted politicians and other talking head types who appear regularly on the TV nightly news the reality of less money being circulated is hitting home to most businesses whether they be large or small.
I started my first home-based business over 22 years ago. At that time, business was booming just about everywhere and it was widely believed that everyone who had a computer and access to the fledgling Internet would be riding the gravy train for the foreseeable future. We all know what happened after that. Dot.coms went bust left and right (although their owners did okay) and the number of people turning to working from their home rose proportionately. Working from home has long been promoted as the ultimate lifestyle, especially for us ageing baby boomers. Where else can you get a job that lets you sleep until noon, go to work in your slippers and jammies and yet gives you a paycheck – at least that's the usual expectation – at the end of the day or week?
Okay, I hear the snorts out there already. To be honest, the last time I actually worked in my jammies was when I was down with a very viral flu and simply had to check “just one e-mail” which led to one file download and then a clarification request, and so on and so on. The reality is that working out of your home, unless you're in an occupation that usually is conducted from home, is much the same as work anywhere. It can be a heavy drain on your time and in the case of a home-worker, if you're not getting paid for that time, your bank balance can also suffer.
Starting a Home-Based Business
Home-based Business in America
There is a truism that goes like this – most people don't plan to fail, they simply fail to plan. If you have successfully started working from home and are still doing it five or ten years later, then by definition you would be among the minority who have carefully planned their business venture. Governments the world over have established offices to help workers who are struggling to establish their own business and a goodly number of workers have made a new career out of counselling wanna-be entrepreneurs in all the hurdles they will have to go over, around or simply through before they can successfully work from home.
When a recession hits is not the time to return to your business plan. All of the business planning seminars that I have attended (and have a stack to workbooks to show for that attendance) emphasize over and over that you have to revisit these plans frequently. Noticing that your business has dried up overnight is NOT the time to haul out those workbooks and start puzzling over what went wrong. A home-based business is subject to the same fluctuations that plague large corporations. The scale is the only thing different here, while a home-based business may recognize a downward trend more quickly that means they can also be out of business just as quickly.
It's a wise business owner who notices that the payments from her largest customer are getting a little bit slower in coming through the mail – no blaming the Post Office these days, money transfers take just a couple of clicks and payment being received two months after the project was completed can mean life or death to a small business. If the warning bells are starting to jangle that the recession may be started to be felt down at the micro-craft level of your business hopefully you're been doing extra homework to get ready for moving on to the next phase of your home-based business.
Does Working From Home Work
Revisit "The Plan" Regularly
For most home-based businesses, planning for the future is something that we do on a daily (sometimes even hourly) basis. This planning doesn't have to be extremely complex but it is something that you should be doing regularly. By listening to regular customers and keeping track of how what is happening in their lives might impact its bottom line, a home-based business can move quickly to adapt strategies and cope with downturns in business.
A home-based business is often ideally situated to make changes to their product and over-all business on the fly. While the nature of a typical or traditional home-based business has changed over the years, the ones who have survived have been able to see change coming, work with their business and move on to new aspects of that business that might never have been possible when they first started working from home.
When I was starting my working at home career I was one of the many with a computer, the Internet and the need to earn a living without leaving the house. Today I still have the computer (a lot more of them now since my husband also works from home), the Internet and a host of other toys that have survived the acid test of “will it make money for us?” By returning to their overall business plan regularly the home-based business can more easily survive those turbulent recession valleys that surface regularly. Home businesses that are willing to plan for change will find that their home business stands up better under the pressures a recession brings than larger, more inflexible organizations.
Surviving a Recession
Recession Proofing Your Home Business
Nothing is certain these days. Home businesses boomed in the late 1980's. Everyone was being told that working from home was the ultimate goal. However many businesses started in those glory days ended up quickly withering and dieing for a wide range of reasons.
Your home business can help you make it through this recession – and the next one and the next one as long as you keep just a few basic principles clearly in focus:
- KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) – A recession is not a good time to start making plans that involve a large outlay of cash – you'll need that cash to fuel up your vehicle or buy groceries
- Be FLEXIBLE – Don't wait until your orders or assignments have dried up to a trickle. Always be on the look-out for the next trend or fad that will keep you busy and your bank balance healthy
- Stay POSITIVE – This can be difficult when everyone around is moaning about the doom and gloom that they read about in the business section of the paper. Plan as much in advance for what you're going to do if things head south and then keep those plans front and center so that you can make any changes that may be necessary to keep your money flow steady