Working From Home – The Three Keys to Success

There are several trends that are driving forward the popularity of working from home. The main trend is the improvement of communication technology, mainly the Internet. The Internet allows people to access information and communicate with people all over the world in an instant. For employed people, this often means accessing company databases remotely and for the self-employed, this means marketing products, services or an opportunity online.

Another trend that is driving the popularity of working from home is people’s quest for a different lifestyle. People no longer want to work 40 or 50 hours a week for a boss, just to pay the bills. People are generally seeking more control of where and how they work and whom they work with. This brings us on to another trend…

A much improved scale and efficiency of logistics. People now expect to order something online or on the phone and receive their goods within a day or two. This has created new distribution channels for manufacturers and wholesalers and new income opportunities for people who can help those companies find new customers. These new distribution opportunities are usually in the form of Direct Sales / Network Marketing or eCommerce websites. The Work From Home era is truly here.

My Background

I first got involved in working from home on a part-time basis 7 years ago, with a British Direct Sales and Network Marketing company called Kleeneze. Their business model uses commission based, self-employed distributors who distribute their home shopping catalogues to households and then take orders and deliver products. The company takes advantage of the growing home shopping trend, improved goods distribution and people’s quest for a better lifestyle. Kleeneze are basically a goods warehouse that uses a catalogue distribution methodology, combined with a network marketing incentive structure to take their products to market. It’s a strong model.

Over the past several years, I have built up a team of distributors, whose sales contribute to my group turnover, which the company pays me a percentage on every month. This gives me a passive income that allows me to free up time to focus on other activities such as helping a selected team members, developing ideas and exploring new opportunities.

More recently, I have become involved in financial services. I am an appointed representative for a financial services practice and a consumer credit compensation company, both on a part-time basis. This means I am running 3 businesses on a part-time basis, all of which compliment each other quite well. In one role I am helping people earn a substantial extra income. In another role I am helping people with protection, insurance and mortgages. In another role, I am helping people to significantly reduce debt. I try and help people improve their lifestyle and finances in one form or another. The skills I’ve learned along the way include selling, public speaking, coaching, web design and Internet marketing.

Why Work From Home?

People will want to work from home for many different reasons and in many different ways. For example, the schoolteacher working from home marking exam papers is very different from an entrepreneur working from home trying to build a successful enterprise. For the purpose of this article, I will endeavour to give some useful advice for people who are looking to work from home to either earn an extra income, or build a business for the longer term. This will usually be a network marketing or eCommerce business.

The idea of working from home can be very attractive. Being at home for your family. Flexibility of hours. Home comforts and more. These are all real advantages but as with everything in life, there are two sides to the coin. Positive and negative. With children or other family members can come distraction. Flexibility can be hard to discipline, so time can easily be wasted and time wasted can never be gotten back. Home comforts can again distract your focus from important tasks that need to be carried out.

The Three Keys To Success

There are 3 things you need to be successful. Willingness, ability and a good opportunity. The good news is they’re all down to you. Willingness (motivation) is down to you. Ability (acquiring the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for success) is down to you by how much you’re willing to learn. Finding a good opportunity is also down to you – research as many opportunities as you can and don’t just go for something because it’s initially appealing.

Let’s first look at finding a good opportunity. I will use the criteria I use when looking at an opportunity and these criteria should serve you well. Let’s assume you’re looking to join a Network Marketing company for example. Here are the questions to ask yourself:

  • Products / Services: Is there a good market for the products / services that the company provides. Are they priced to sell and priced for profit? Are they of acceptable quality? Are at least some of the products / services consumable, offering future repeat business? Can they easily be bought elsewhere more easily and cheaply? Is there a strong guarantee? Do the products / services satisfy a growing trend or need in the marketplace? Having all these criteria together is not critical, but the more you have, the bigger the advantage
  • Company: Does the company / supplier have a proven, successful track record? Does it have strong corporate and financial backing? Does the company have a positive public image, or if it’s a newer company, positive endorsements or testimonials? Does the company practice integrity?
  • Support: Does the company take support and training seriously? The vast majority of new distributors or representatives will probably need to learn specific skills, knowledge and attitudes to enable them to attain a certain level of success
  • Innovation: Does the company have the right people in place to help drive the development of the company through changing economic and market conditions? Change is the only constant in life and only those people and companies who adapt will survive and prosper in the long term.

My final advice when assessing a company is imagine you are preparing to invest a large loan that is secured against your house into the business. Do your due diligence and invest using your brain, not your emotions. Emotion can come later.

The second key to success is willingness. This means a willingness on your behalf to put the time and effort into learning the knowledge, skills and attitudes required and of course, quite simply getting down and doing the work. The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. Before you commit time and effort into something, you need desire and belief and they are both closely linked. Desire comes through pain or pleasure. You’re either motivated by something you want to move towards, or motivated by pain to move away from something. Here’s something interesting: for the majority of people, pain is more of a powerful motivator than pleasure, especially in the shorter term. Here’s a few quick tips to develop consistent desire (motivation):

  • Allow yourself to dream about what you really want your life to be like (the pleasure principle). If you find this difficult, remind yourself of your dreams you had as a child, before disappointment and cynicism took over!
  • Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage you
  • Feed your mind with information that is conductive to helping you build the life you want. This includes books, audios and even refraining from watching trashy, negative TV!
  • Take yourself forward 5 years and imagine what your life will be like if you don’t follow your dreams (the pain principle). Now 10 years. Now 20. Now imagine yourself as an old man or woman looking back on your life. Are you proud of yourself or full of regret?
  • Set your goals and take immediate and sustained action!

Belief will come through being associated with the right company. By company I mean a physical company and of course people. If you did your due diligence before joining a company, then this shouldn’t be a problem. If this belief starts fade, then you need to ask why, because a lack of belief in what you’re doing or what you’re involved in will destroy your chances of success as fast as anything else. Here’s where having a good coach or mentor will help massively. Try and find a mentor or coach that you feel comfortable with and one who’s qualified to help i.e. one who’s done it or doing it.

Finally, I recommend you become a student of personal development, if you’re not already. Simply put, if you want to become successful, study success. If you want to become wealthy, study wealth. There’s a great range of personal development material on the Internet that you can explore.

The third and final key to success is ability. This simply means the ability to turn work into positive results. In other words, having the right knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA’s). What might the KSA’s be?

  • Product / service knowledge
  • Selling and negotiating skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Marketing knowledge
  • A knowledge of human psychology
  • Specific technical knowledge / skills
  • A focused attitude
  • An attitude of courage – willingness to expand one’s comfort zone to do things they haven’t done before

How do you develop ability? If you’re involved with a company that takes support and training seriously, they will have a training programme that you can join. It should be structured and allow people to work through it at their own pace, with various competence standards along the way so you can measure your progress over time. A good training and development programme should:

  • Be clear and in easy to understand language
  • Be organised and structured
  • Have clear learning outcomes so the student can measure their progress against set competence benchmarks
  • Allow feedback between the student and teacher. The ”student’ is usually the distributor or representative and the ‘teacher’ would be the coach or mentor that has proven success by using the information that is being taught
  • Have a certain degree of flexibility so people of varying experience and timescales can work through it at their own pace
  • Use various media such is written text, audio, visual and ‘hands on’ practical activities
  • Include group learning and fun!

One quality that is often overlooked by companies and trainers is character. Although having the right skills and knowledge is really important, just as important is a person’s character. This includes qualities such as trustworthiness, empathy, good humour and discipline. Character is developed through the interaction of life’s experiences and one’s own fixed mental attitudes. A great way of helping people grow is through group activities, and not necessarily business orientated. The key is to create and fun and conductive environment for people.

What I have outlined in this article is a general blueprint for your success in running a business from home, without the specific details for your particular company. I hope you have found this article useful and I wish you all the best in your current and future ventures.

List Building and the Single Page Website

Here’s a scenario for an online business that provides information and is in existence to help other succeed in their online ecommerce objectives. You should know up front that the ultimate goal for the business is to get you to purchase their marketing plan.

Do they develop a flashy website with flash and animation? Do they flood the screen with video testimonials or podcasts? Do they pay a celebrity to provide a testimonial? There is a quiet awakening in a form of marketing that is essentially low key, low budget and is essentially comprised of a single visitable page. The page provides an audio greeting from the owner telling you briefly about the product and the potential success. You are then invited to read a singular page of information.

Once the visitor does this they have to make a choice. If the information is solid enough they will need to determine if they are interested enough to find out more. If they are then they will need to fill out a form on the single page website. That is the key that unlocks a world of information. This approach is a prime example of powerful list building strategies.

A site like this may be a prime candidate for web builder technology. The site is essentially simplified and does not require significant upkeep so the use of a site builder can be a cost effective and simple way to reach your online objectives.

The remaining functions of the website may be comprehensive or the information the guest needs may be managed through autoresponders. In other words when the door is unlocked you can help guide your visitor in the way that will best help them understand your marketing product the best.

Obviously this is a business-to-business scenario, but the process may have possibilities for business to customer applications as well. I think one of the reasons this might be a smart approach to marketing is that you are not immersing your guest into a site that has so much information it can be intimidating to actually learn where to start.

This approach may result in fewer signups, but these individuals may be more motivated to learn more and perhaps share your message. You can help them by systematically dismantling your marketing system or product and bringing it to your customers in bite sized nuggets that are attractive and filling.

As a business owner you might look at passing along the information in either a webinar video stream or an ecourse that is sent to customers over a period of time by autoresponders.

Why do you think listening to books has become so popular? People seem to have less and less time to devote to something they feel is overwhelming. If you were to simply send out a manual in the mail with your information it may get lost and unused, but by creating attractive and helpful sections that are dispersed at strategic times you may find those same individuals learning significant amounts about your business and/or product.

There are many ways to develop your site and equally remarkable ways to build traffic. This article presents a case for a technique you may have never thought about before.

How’s Your “Ecabulary”? Shifting Our Perceptions of Words in the Ecommerce World

Megan, a college sophomore at Indiana University, punched her credit card number into a website with a mailing address somewhere in China. She needed to buy a new $800, 36″ plasma TV with FREE DELIVERY for her Sorority House. Seems that there was an “accident” that found the old TV in the bathtub wearing a pink tee shirt and a happy face drawn on it with lipstick–the day after a weekend “study party.”

Megan’s dad at home in Park Ridge, IL meanwhile, shreds enough junk mail daily to stuff enough scarecrows to protect all of Iowa’s corn crop, and he melts old credit cards on the stove and burns every other document that list his name-even the bill from the lawn mowing service for raking leaves. He believes that punching in a credit card into a computer is like giving his cash to the devil to buy coal. Too risky.

Generational differences in how ecommerce and communication online is perceived, accepted or not is a hot topic and the biggest challenge for marketers to get Megan’s dad to pony up his credit card to buy online, trust the system or sign up for a social media site and get hip, man. Like any other technology, change is unwelcome when it involves a lot of reprogramming the mind as well as the remote control. Simply suggesting a shift in how to view a topic can be enough to get a new dialogue started.

One way to define these differences in generational views of the web is to use a invented word to describe this phenomenon. Here it is: Ecabulary. Yes, it sounds more like a medical term describing a part of your lower gastro intestinal tract, yet it’s a easy way to differentiate some subtle and big shifts in psychology of using the ecommerce more each day.

Psychology and the internet–how we buy, sell , research, learn, listen, talk, etc. is still less than 20 years old. Concepts of trust, intimacy, emotions and expectations are falling under different levels of personal adjustment and acceptance based on demographics, gender, race, culture, religion, education, geography, as well as the sophistication level of one’s employer and the technology utilized in daily work.

Here’s a list of some examples of old vocabulary expectations and new ecabulary realizations highlights differences and perception of consumers regarding ecommerce.

Relationship-Elationship: We think of relationships in a more emotional aspect of the human connection: see, touch, smell, hear. We’re able to use all our tactile senses to size up relationships as they grow. Elationships are fragments of data, we don’t always know where, what, why, how or who that “someone is” behind the font or even the picture. Their voice to us is words. No inflection, cadence, accent, pacing, breathing, laughter, sadness, etc. We begin to form opinions of this someone from only a few clues-relying on our bias, stereotypes and level of intellect to form judgments or rationalize the situation. Trust and commitment is a deeper concern and lingers on.

Intimacy-Etimacy: Intimacy is a highly charged word in humans; a word saved for special things, special people and rarely used by us in a casual context. Intimacy in ecommerce can be dangerous to our emotional balance because we want to believe the person’s expressions and sincerity in whatever dialogue we’re having, yet the lack of tactile clues and belief of a viable, validated/legitimate peer leads to perpetual suspicion for many people. Etimacy is much more restrictive and guarded than what would be described as intimacy.

Authenticity-Ethenticity: Authentic suggests a certain grounded-ness and genuineness to something be it a product, food, recipes, friendships and the like. Ethenticity relative to products, services and social network relationships are missing parts of human touch and the chemistry that goes with it. Fragmented conversations, days between twitters, tweets and postings creates inconsistent messages, raising doubts to the authentic intentions of the relationships. Delayed gratification becomes a lost art.

Deal-Eal: Doing business, making a deal on a handshake and a promise is not part of our web world. Enter ecommerce and the “Eal.” No face, no handshake, no voice-only a PayPal logo, a security firewall that “looks authentic” and we give our credit card number to a stranger because the website looks legitimate, or should we say “egitimate?” Either way we’ve become more conditioned, even desensitized, to giving away data we long held in total secrecy unless we say the eyeballs of the person we’re making the deal.

Emotion-Eemotion: Similar to intimacy, emotion can be based on words written, photos that could be real or stock photos from Getty Images. Graphs, testimonials, a video presentation, as well can be 100% truthful, yet because no physical presence, a slight doubt can linger. No voice inflection, eye contact, sweat on the forehead, the broken arm in a cast, the child standing next to you. For us primates that have been programmed for face recognition, ecommerce is a challenge.

Opportunity-Epportunity: Suspicion hangs over ecommerce as long as deceptive people and thieves live on earth. Risk is ever-present and we continue to seek more checks and balances the higher the price tag goes. Brand name businesses have the edge in the trust factor.

Reputation-Eputation: Social networking sites are getting better at dismissing the fakes. LinkedIn and others have filters and kill switches that will cut out those who are reported as liars or deceptive. Big companies have an easier time selling their brand as legit than the plasma TV folks online in China, but this is changing.

Voice-Evoice: Tones, pitch, timbre, baritone, tenor, nasal, bass, soothing, irritating, authoritative, dimwitted-all describe human voice. Evoices lack the human element of comparing/contrasting and reference points. Evoices can’t elicit memories or help us retrieve clues to help us make decisions or confirm impressions. Evoice is hard to create a brand called “individual personality” or humanness that helps ground us. A customer service tech named Steve, living in India, is hard to accept for some skeptics living in Omaha.

Identity-Edentity: Like the Second Life site of make believe for adults, our identity outside ecommerce is composed of experiences we’ve left with others, as well as the residue we take with from them. Identity, as defined as “you” is complex and ever-changing in our perceptions of self as we grow, learn, love, fail, or succeed. Edentity can be made to be magically perfect. Flaws, faults, blemishes and age lines can be erased liked the ecommerce video ads wipe soap scum way in two seconds. One’s edentity can be intentionally or unconsciously fabricated to fit our modified public self we choose to present and leave the wrinkles and bad stuff off the record. Like the weight stated on your driver license: it never changes for some people.

Peers-Eers: Credentials, accomplishments, press, media exposure, pages on Google can suggest more power, fame-even wealth than is actually the case. Illusions abound and smoke and mirrors are on sale now. Peers know you one way, but Eers only see the face of the public relations spin and marketing angle whether be your Facebook, LinkedIn, your alumni bio, or your company profile. What appears on screen can be distorted and presumed to be something more or less than what the real person behind the credentials is all about. Good or bad, the consequences of basing decisions solely on Eers words can last a long time.

Perception-Erception: Like reputation and Relations, Perception is based on combined experiences a person has to form certain biases, or heuristic devices to make fast decisions. Ecommerce affords more tools to the intended marketer to sway or dis-sway a person from doing something without more data, clues or time to decide. “If you don’t purchase these tickets in 2 minutes, they will be put back into the For Sale slot.” Decide NOW!

Attitude-Ettitude: Attitude is courted by intention and self-confidence status. Ettitude can be masked and distorted with phrasing and pictures to persuade based on guilt, fear, loss, authority, scarcity, social proof, habit, consistency, among other elements of persuasion theory. Attitude when turned to Ettitude takes time to sort and define all the messages and intentions.

Energy-Egerny: Personal energy is more than physical activities like gestures, fast walk/run, facial movements, rate of speech, etc. Energy is an aura that surrounds a person in ways we can’t always define. Intellectual, sexual, athletic, business energies are all different. Egerny is subjective, and, once again, be manufactured to be what the provider wants to present. Like edited video tapes, different messages can come from the same mouth.

Credibility-Eredibility: Longevity, loyalty, success, value-all part of credibility. Eredibility relies on ecommerce policies and others to police the web to sort through the bad product and swindlers. Credibility remains with compelling value, stayed products and consistent reviews. Longevity in business is not a ecommerce value due to its adolescence age. Value is the operant word.

Behavior-Ehavior: Bad behavior/Bad ehavior all get noticed fast and word spreads even faster. Fortunately, some things remain the same.

Believe-Elieve: One phrase describes the similarities: Trust from other sources to confirm our impressions.

If you’re selling products and services via ecommerce, ask yourself these questions as you constantly revise your marketing/branding/deliverables via the latest technology:

1. Does our product or service marketing tools point to strong trust and consistency in the vocabulary/ecabulary of ecommerce?
2. Do we allow/encourage/direct the customer to utilize as many human senses as possible to experience our product/service to make a decision faster and confidently?
3. What can you do to add one more emotional trigger for the customer’s sense of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell that will keep their attention longer?
4. Is there a way to allow the customer to become more interactive and experiential in the purchase or review as they shop?

These four questions allow you to consider not only all the tactile potentiality of a customer’s needs, but encourages you to look for other add-ons of experience and tie-ins/alliances to secure all the senses. For example, offering free music downloads, humor utilizing with video or clever ads, coupons, videos that instruct, etc. seek out alliances and successful outlets that generate that certain buzz that you desire. Ride their wave, rent their waves if you have to.

Lastly, watch for themes, traditional events/celebrations and current events to tie the customers present sensory states that are being bombarded in our 24/7 world of news updates and tie your story and products/services into their real need right now.

Follow these ideas and you secure more revenue, er, evenue for your business from Megan…and her dad.