If you’re accustomed to a lifestyle of cubicles and fax machines, making the transition to a home-based business can be harder than you might think. You have to contend with all of the challenges of starting your own business, while also dealing with the personal and emotional stressors of bringing your work into your living space. However, from the many people who have taken the risky road to starting a home business, there are a few pointers that every new home business owner should note:
1. Figure out what it is you actually want to be doing. A new small business needs to satisfy a few requirements. It needs to be based on your personal interests and career goals. It needs to address a market niche that you believe is unfilled. It needs to be appropriate to the local area. Finally, it needs to be feasible for a home-based business. For example, you wouldn’t want to start a home business that was going to be dependent ultimately on major manufacturing operations. Unless you are planning from the beginning to begin operations out of the home and move them into an office space eventually, you should only start a business out of the home that can stay in the home.
2. Have a plan of attack before you start. It wouldn’t be wise to quit your current job and invest all of your time and money into launching your home business, only to realize that your business plan is off base or overly complicated. Have a fairly crystallized plan of where your business is coming from, who is supporting it, and when you can expect to see a return on investment. Understand your primary market, know what talent you will need to support your operations, and have a generalized growth plan in place. You should also be certain that you know how much money you need to start out and where that money is going to come from. If it’s going to put you under too much financial strain, you may want to retool. You will also need to make a careful evaluation of the amount of money you truly, honestly need to get by. Does your plan provide you with enough?
3. Take care of your basic necessities. Potential investors aren’t going to want to invest in your business if it doesn’t seem like you are a real operation. Make sure you’ve addressed all the basic things before trying to attract new business. This will include making sure you’ve done all the required paperwork to be considered a business in your state and that you’ve copyrighted your name and basic info. Come up with a marketing package which might include your branding, likea logo and slogan, business cards, printed materials, a website, and social media presence. If you don’t feel capable of handling all of these things yourself, you can hire someone through an outsourcing website or someone who advertises marketing and design in your local area. Different materials will be relevant for different company types, so choose as appropriate. For example, if you don’t focus on the local area, you might not need business cards right away. This can wait until you attend a professional event or until you get a bit more established. Make sure your branding is very strong so people will remember you.
Virtually every company needs robust web presence including, at the very least, a professional-looking website and a few social media accounts. It doesn’t have to have high functionality, but it should look nice and respectable, and it should be hosted somewhere secure. Make sure you know how to protect your website from hackers by applying web security software. This will ensure that your customers can 1) get to your website without any errors and 2) safely browse your site without their personal information being compromised.
5. Make your home space work-ready. There are a few common complaints that home-based workers share: that it is hard to keep from getting distracted, that you miss the social interaction, and that you sometimes feel left out of the professional loop. You can help prevent these problems by having a designated office space. Your brain will then be able to go into work mode when you are in your work space, which will help prevent distraction. You may also want to equip your office with a few things that will make it easier to promote interaction with partners and clients like teleconferencing software.
Other things to consider:
-Do you need any special licenses or permits? Make sure to double check on this and to keep copies on hand in case someone wants proof.
-Do you need to get a PO Box address? Many people prefer the security and anonymity that this provides, especially when doing business with remote clients outside of the local area.
-If you need to hire other employees, how will they work for you? Out of their own homes or out of your space?
-What capacities can you handle yourself? What do you need to outsource right away? Are you able to handle the books on your own or should you get an accountant? Small business owners are more likely to face an audit, so make sure you have a way to keep careful track of your paper trail.
Starting your own home business is a great way to be independent and to find your own way towards professional commitment. It certainly takes plenty of hard work and preparation, but with some time and care, you’ll soon be on the right path.