Ninety-seven percent of entrepreneurs love or like working from home, according to MoneyTips.com's recent survey of 160 successful Americans who run their businesses from home. Most enjoy it so much that 54 percent of them would turn down an offer of free office space just one mile from home.
Still, many feel that things could be better: Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed worry about financial issues.
To demystify the art of building a thriving business from home, Winnie Sun, managing partner of Sun Group Wealth Partners, interviewed several successful entrepreneurs and gathered best practices in the free e-book The Modern Entrepreneur: Secrets to Building a Thriving Business from Home, which also contains the complete results of MoneyTips' study.
Here are 12 tips from three influential entrepreneurs who have built thriving businesses from home.
Adryenn Ashley, CEO of Crowded Reality
After great success with Wow! Is Me, a marketing consultancy firm, and ChickLit Media Group, an independent publishing company, award-winning film producer Adryenn Ashley launched Crowded Reality last December. She strategically integrated social currency into her latest business model--and it paid off.
To keep your business sustainable, here are Ashley's four finance tips for home-based entrepreneurs:
Tip No. 1: Focus on making money quickly.
Focus on ideas that don't need much startup capital and are immediately profitable. For Wow! Is Me, ChickLit Media Group, and Crowded Reality, Ashley covered her startup costs with preorders.
Tip No. 2: Set up a frugal home office.
A common mistake from first-time entrepreneurs is to set up a fancy office at home. "I didn't need half of what I bought," confides Ashley. Instead, put every penny toward delivering your product or service.
Tip No. 3: Deduct housing expenses the right way.
"A lot of people who work from home use TurboTax to do their taxes, and it only gives you one or two ways to deduct your house," warns Ashley. Instead, she suggests using the square footage of your home office space as a percentage of your total home square footage to allocate deductible expenses.
Tip No. 4: Leave no business deduction behind.
Beyond her home expenses, Ashley uses working vacations and office space reserved at her local country club for client meetings as business deductions. "Just make sure that you have an accountant who knows how to do it," says Ashley.
Joyce Knudsen, PhD, founder of the ImageMaker Inc. Communications Group
While many Americans are happy to fully retire at age 67, Joyce Knudsen, 71, is happiest when working more than 50 hours per week, striving to make a difference in at least one person's life every day as an image consultant.
To achieve that daily goal, she leverages her Twitter account that's rapidly closing in on a million people. Here are Knudsen's five tips that can help you build a massive word-of-mouth referral network:
Tip No. 1: Skip the sales pitch on social media.
She connects with people who aren't there just to collect followers as if they were prizes. "That is not what it's for. It's called social media because you are social on it," she says.
Tip No. 2: Be authentic.
Because people find authenticity to be a breath of fresh air, Knudsen suggests skipping canned templates that make you sound like a robot.
Tip No. 3: Reach out to folks who share your interests.
In the past, finding these people meant paying admission to an expensive networking event and driving there. Now you can do that from your smartphone.
Tip No. 4: Build relationships.
On Twitter, Knudsen has met many great people, including her cover designer for her soon-to-be-published book, Refusing to Quit: Women Over Sixty, and her webmaster. People reach out to her at all hours with questions and projects, and she responds to everyone who reaches out on social media.
Tip No. 5: Pay it forward.
"There are so many experts out there," she says. "But really, they just want to know what you can do for them. Instead, when you do something for other people, they in turn tend to do all kinds of things back for you, even though that's not the reason you did it."
Jeb Blount, CEO of Sales Gravy
When his senior executive position at a Fortune 500 firm was eliminated, Jeb Blount decided to cash in his entire $500,000 nest egg to launch a sales training and recruitment portal called SalesGravy.com. His bold move proved successful, and today SalesGravy.com is the most visited sales-specific website in the world.
In the first quarter of 2015 alone, Blount was able to earn as much as his original nest egg in revenue. Since selling is a big part of becoming a work-at-home entrepreneur, Blount shares three essential tips to help you sell:
Tip No. 1: Get out of your comfort zone.
"People need to understand that if you don't go out and interrupt somebody's day, you are going to have skinny kids," explains Blount. His latest book, Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline, details what entrepreneurs need to do to fill the sales pipeline and avoid debilitating sales slumps.
Tip No. 2: Learn to work the phones.
During the early years of Sales Gravy, Blount was on the phone 12 to 14 hours per day. "Email can support that, and certainly social selling is a big key--but if you don't pick up the phone and call people, then you are probably going to fail," he advises.
Tip No. 3: You're your best selling tool.
"Sales is all about transferring emotions," Blount says. "When your confidence and enthusiasm carry through your voice, people are more likely to talk to you." Your ability to relate to potential customers and show that you can truly solve their problems is critical for landing more contracts.