How to Work When Work is Different

woman sitting cross-legged on a couch with a computer

Work from home has become the “new normal” for many people. (Yes, it’s totally okay to gag at that phrase, happens to me every time.) Get up. Get dressed. Have breakfast. Scan the news (or Twitter). Roll from the kitchen to your desk (or make the kitchen table your desk). And it’s time to go.

Working from home (or at least working from home on the daily) was not part of the original plan for many people. And I need to pause here first. Many folks don’t have the luxury of working from home. Postal workers, healthcare teams, grocery store staff, mall workers, many more, and even folks in my own field – dubbed the “helping professions” – still head into the office on the reg.

For those people who’ve had their work spaces changed by shelter-in-place orders, there are some challenges that come along with that. Do you have a comfortable space in which to work where you’re not killing your eyes, back, and hands? Are you taking care of kids, parents, or others while also working? Do you have the ability to have quality internet at home, or has your ability to produce at the same level as in the office decreased?

Working from home changes dynamics. It violently tilts the more level playing field of office space where teams typically have the same equipment, surf the same Internet, meet in the same rooms, and shows variances. What space do you work in? What part of your home do you want your colleagues to see? Is your cat the newest Zoom meeting participant?

Ultimately, what I can suggest to employees and employers is the following:

Set good boundaries.

When it’s starting time, it’s starting time. When it’s quitting time, it’s quitting time. Open your computer at the start of the day and close it at the end. I also turn on my work phone at the start of each day and off at the end. I try to stick to my schedule as much as possible. Having little “rituals” like this, combined with a set schedule (when possible) help define work time from personal time when doing both in the same physical space.

Keep communication open with your supervisor and team members.

Check on each other. Set regular meetings to engage with folks. And if you’re not feeling like being on video, it’s okay to express that (virtual burnout is real, folks).

Show everyone some grace.

We’re going to have days when we don’t motivate well. Sometimes the internet might go out. Your six-year-old is going to throw a tantrum during a big meeting (or someone else’s six-year-old is going to throw a tantrum during a big meeting). Be kind – to yourself and to others.

What other tips do you have to make working from home easier? Share them in the comments or tweet us @BizGalz.

How To Turn A Hobby Into A Business: 7 Steps

So many of us dream of doing the things that we love full-time, but what is it that stops us? From fear of failure to doubting the idea itself, so many business ideas have never seen the light of day because we just don’t trust ourselves enough.

We live in a time where, more and more, people are striving to be paid for the things they are passionate about. Transforming your hobby into a career takes time, patience, and dedication, but it is definitely possible. So, here are some tips to help you do just that.

1. Decide on the problem you’re trying to solve

Knowing what you’re passionate about it a start. But monetising it is a whole new ball game.

Start with the business strategy. What problem is your business trying to solve? And, what kind of product or service are you offering as a solution? There are plenty of options to choose from. For example, if the problem is potential customers are looking for businesses in their local areas to support and purchase from, you could offer multiple solutions. From building a directory to offering a service that hand-picks the best local businesses for that customer’s particular needs. The most important thing to remember is, your business needs to be associated with a problem to be solved.

2. Deep dive into the research

Next, you need to understand the market that you’re operating in. What other companies or people are doing this? (Or trying to). Are there enough people who need what you’re offering? What costs will there be and how long will you carry those until the business pays for them? How much should you be selling for? This research will be the bedrock of the actions that you take when establishing your businesses and making sure that you stand out from the competition. You don’t want to disappear into the noise within the industry.

Collecting the research is only the beginning, next you have to analyse it. There are many ways that you can do this (e.g. a SWOT analysis). But you may also want to compile all of this info int a single business plan. Here’s a link to a great free business template.

3. Get the admin done

Now it’s time for the more exciting stuff. Officially setting up the business and putting your financial and legal ducks in a row. The process for setting up a business will vary depending on where you are in the world, but these three things are universal:

  • Registering your business (UK: Companies House)
  • Getting your insurance
  • Getting an accountant

One thing you don’t want to forget is insurance. The cover that you need will vary from one business to another, so make sure you run over the details with your provider to choose a cover that is right for you.

4. Establish your brand

The idea is there. The business is registered. And, you already had mountains of experience to begin with. Now it’s time to turn your idea into something tangible; a brand. Branding is the cornerstone of marketing and it will pay well to do lay the groundwork for this at the very beginning. The name of your business is key – something memorable and preferably relates back to your business concept. Then you have to make sure that the look and feel of the brand is a reflection of what it truly stands for.

5. Build your online presence

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. And, when it comes to reaching new audiences far and wide, it’s also a great place to start. Remember that we live in a time where people are used to Googling anything in a matter of seconds. Lack of an online presence will just raise suspicions of legitimacy or professionalism.

Here are some things you want to get up and running as soon as you can:

  • Your website: tools such as SquareSpace, Wix and WordPress will allow you to build a site with ease. They also come with great SEO tools to help you appear in search results. Remember, you can always get someone else to build it for you too. Upwork is a great place to look for Developers.
  • Social media: grab your business name on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and set up a LinkedIn business profile. Even if you don’t end up using all of those channels, it’s better that your brand is 100% in your control.
  • Google Business: set up a Google business account so that your business profile appears in search results. This is a great way to get reviews from customers in the long run.

6. Think your schedule through

As you’re trying to turn your hobby into a business, it’s likely that you’re still working as well. So, managing your time effectively will be key to keeping yourself happy and healthy.

Do your best to introduce structure within your routine and automate processes where you can (e.g. social media posting and scheduling blogs). What you want to do is divide your time sensibly, without burning out or causing yourself any harm. So, as much as you want your new venture to be a success, prioritise rest too!

7. Walk the walk

Finally, remember that in order to succeed, you need to make sure you’re running your business effectively.

This means learning how to deal with the financials (especially if you don’t like excel!), maintaining a professional image, learning the right way to respond to a client. But most of all, back yourself. You’re good enough to succeed, you just have to be prepared to put in the work.

Think we’ve missed some key advice? Share your tips in the comments.