Applying Business Savvy in Your Home

by Kim Randall

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Thinking of starting a home business? Good news, you already have one. Your home is a business and treating it as such can save you money and time. Generally, when we think of a business, we envision an established company that produces a specific product or provides a certain service. Businesses have employees, suppliers, and, most importantly, customers. So, how does your home qualify as a business?

In terms of products and services, your home provides shelter, heat, food, and comfort for your family and any guests you may entertain. You and your other family members are the employees. You maintain the home, cook the food, and shovel the coal into the stove in the winter. While generally no monetary transactions take place, you are also the customers in that you enjoy the services and products your home provides. As for suppliers, examples include the local grocery store, the town fire department, and the electric company.

Now that you've viewed your home in a different manner, ask yourself this question. Why shouldn't you apply your business savvy at home and reap the same benefits and rewards that your employer does from your efforts on the job? Below I have described an activity that takes place on a regular basis in established businesses and ways to successfully incorporate this practice into your "home business."

One of the most critical elements in successful business practice is keeping track of inventory. In most companies, a stockroom attendant is responsible for maintaining an accurate count of inventoried items and signaling when it is time to replenish stock levels. It is important to keep an accurate inventory not only to know what you have but to also avoid a crisis.

Be your own stockroom attendant by first establishing an inventory of your large or highly valued items such as furniture, collectibles, and jewelry. This is important for insurance purposes and could save you a lot of headache in case of an emergency. Protect yourself by keeping a copy of this information (photographs are fine, too) in a fireproof box in your basement.

Next, take a look around your home and list the showstoppers that can halt your "business" right in its tracks. These should be things like toilet paper, motor oil, and heating fuel. Then, decide on a reorder point for each of these items. A reorder point is the inventory level that signals it is time to purchase more. While storing a year's worth of toilet paper is probably not realistic, you should set your reorder point high enough that you have time to replenish your stock without finding yourself in a crisis situation.

Finally, make sure you check the level of these items on a regular basis. Creating a weekly checklist is a great start. Once the stock level of an item reaches the reorder point, add it to your shopping list.

Managing your inventory will save you valuable time and money by preventing last minute trips to the local convenience store. These excursions are not only a hassle, but also you will generally pay a considerable premium for the "convenience" of shopping close to home. Keeping tabs on your inventory will also help keep you out of more dire situations such as having no heat in the dead of winter. I've been there and, believe me, it's not a lot of fun.

Managing inventory is just one of many sensible and efficient business practices that you can apply at home. Reflect on your experience in the workforce and see if you can come up with other ways to apply your business savvy at home. It will take a little creative thinking, but I bet you can easily come up with 4 or 5 more ideas that will help you streamline your expenses and make your "home business" more efficient and profitable.

So go ahead and give it some thought. Don't let your employer be the only one who benefits from the knowledge and expertise you've gained over the years because, frankly, your "business" is more important!

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