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Problems With Solutions
How Long Is Too Long?
Jan 23, 2003, 11:22

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"How long do you give your business to succeed? I've been working my home based business for about 8 months and things really aren't growing. Sales seem to be at a stand still. I keep hearing the phrase "Persist and don't give up", but isn't there a time when you throw in the towel realizing that "this" business just isn't going to make it?"

Answers from our readers:

I have been working my home business for just over a year now, and I would say you have to give any business at least that long to turn a profit. When I talked to a tax consultant about filing this year, and realized that because I have a loss and not a gain I would not have to pay taxes, she told me that almost every business has a loss in the first year. I then realized I would need to give this business at least 2 years before I made the decision to quit. I knew going into this that I would not become rich overnight. I love what I do, and I have no intentions of giving it up anytime soon.
Kim Troutman
The Mom Team

I would give your business 3 years. (Even our government expects a loss for two years before they really start looking at your income taxes :) Look at your business and your target market and try to think outside of the box.
What would make your business truly stand out and be different? I am in the business of baby and children's clothing. So, I make an item, such as a smock, or take all my wipes boxes from Pampers and decorate the outside for a child, or print up a list of craft activities for children and take them to daycares with my business cards. All of your product, incentives etc.,doesn’t mean anything if you are not reaching the people that would be interested in your product.
Tracy, Owner
Smiley Baby

I have owned several *brick and mortar* businesses in addition to my current online business of a WAH website and daily ezine. The rule of thumb (according to *experts*) is 3-5 years before you should expect to see a profit. I know this length of time to wait seems a tad unrealistic to produce an income.

When starting my website and publication of *Moms@ Home Working*, I set a time line of 6 months to a year for myself to begin earning an income. Within 7 months, I began to produce some income from banners and ads- however small but at least I was actually making something!!

I say stick with it as long as you can afford to and as long as your passion holds out!!
Barb Niehaus - Owner, Moms@ Home Working

When I started my home-based business, I started it with a 3 - 5 year plan. I knew that it would take a minimum of 3 years for me to really start realizing the goals I had set. If you haven't set specific goals to reach.....that is your first mistake. It's like leaving for vacation without a road have no idea how you're going to get where you're going. As with any business, home-based OR brick and mortar, it takes time to build a customer base and get the word out. Most traditional businesses don't make a profit for the first 5 years. Of course, that's only the ones that make it....most small businesses fail within the first 3 years.

You should at least make a one year (preferably 2 - 3 year) commitment to your business and truly work hard to get the word out. The rate of success that you experience is in direct relation to the effort you put forth. If you can only work your business 5 - 10 hours each week, it will take you longer to become successful. But, the important thing is this....whatever time you're devoting to your business, are you really putting forth 100% effort and using your time wisely? You should ask yourself this question at the end of every day - "If I were my boss, would I pay me for the effort I put into my business today?"
Jennifer Aston, Independent Party Director #3936

There are too many variables involved to offer a definitive answer to this question. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to determine whether you should "throw in the towel":

1. Did you begin your business with a business plan and a marketing plan? These are the blueprints for success. Without these two vital components, you are walking in the dark. If you really want to try to make it work, consider creating these documents now. Use special software or consider hiring a professional to write them with you. If you do have them already, sit down (with a professional preferably) to re-evaluate and re-work them.

2. Have you really marketed your business effectively? What venues have you chosen? Have you tracked your advertising results? Are you targeting your advertising and marketing to the right market? What type of marketing budget have you allowed your business? Start-up businesses usually need to devote a higher percentage of advertising funds to establish name recognition. Of course, innovative low or no-cost marketing can be very effective as well, but you must invest a significant amount of time to this effort.

3. Have you done any market research? If you're online, have you had a web site analysis? Have you researched your successful competitors? Harvesting consumer and professional opinions about your products (and how they are presented) can be the key to revising your business to attract the sales you need.

4. Have you taken the time to educate yourself in business? Just because you can make an exceptional product or offer a superior service does not mean you know how to run a business. Consider taking a business or marketing course at a local college to give yourself the boost you need. Even if you are going to hire a marketing professional, having a knowledge base will help you make an educated hiring decision.


Take the time to answer these questions thoroughly and honestly.
Write down your answers.
Read books on the topics you need to brush up on.
Decide whether you are dedicated enough to your business to roll up your sleeves and dig in. Give yourself some time to make the decision and do the necessary research.
Liz Comeau, President
The Write Agency

I think you have to be passionate enough about your business so when the slumps come, and they do, you keep going out there and still talking to people. I've had a home weight loss business for 5 yrs now and there were
days when I didn't think things would fly. I thought about throwing the towel in about weekly but I kept at it and kept telling people how I could help and now I have a very steady business due to that persistence. Don't overindulge in costly advertising or promotional items (I learned the hard way) Stick with the tried and true methods you're taught and personalize them to your style.
Janet McCarty
Rivers Edge Weight Loss

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