Starting a Home-Based Business
Get your business off the ground without leaving the house
Home-based businesses are one of the fastest-growing segments of small business ownership in America today. Work-at-home moms or dads, retirees, part-time entrepreneurs and many others are discovering ways to generate business income from a home or apartment. Starting a business from home boasts numerous advantages over an office-based location. A home-based business can:
- Reduce startup and ongoing operating costs
- Give you additional tax write-offs
- Allow you the freedom to set your own hours and be with your family
- Eliminate time wasted commuting to an office
- Make it easier to conduct business at any time of day.
Make it legal
Before you start, make sure it's legal to run a business from home in your area. Every city, county and state has its own zoning restrictions regarding signage, on-street parking, business hours and hiring employees.
Determine if you've got what it takes
Although there are many good reasons to start a business from home, it isn't for everyone. To be successful, you've got to have strong motivation, a healthy dose of self-discipline and top-notch organizational skills.
Set up your home office
To help create a physical separation between your work and home life, choose a room that you can dedicate as an office. Every business is different but basics you'll need include a desk, chair, computer, printer, fax machine, copier, Internet service, phone system and filing cabinet.
Be prepared to wear all the hats
As a home-based business owner, you won't have the luxury of a big company's administrative staff to assist you with the more mundane tasks associated with running a business, such as ordering supplies, paying bills and mailing packages. Simplify time-consuming tasks so you can focus on more important things.
Image is everything
Even though you may be wearing pajamas while you work from home, you never want your business to come across as amateurish or unprofessional. Establish a professional image with a dedicated business phone line, professional-sounding outgoing message, email with your company domain name and a website.
Separate your business and personal finances
Even if your new venture isn't a huge moneymaker yet, it's a good idea to keep your business and personal finances separate. Having business and personal checking accounts will make it easier to track business income and expenses when tax time rolls around.
Decide on your business address
To protect your privacy, you may want to consider using a post-office box for your mailing address. However, you should be aware that some customers are suspicious of doing business with a company that doesn't have a physical address. If you'd rather not use your home's physical address as your mailing address, check into a post office box or a mailbox rental that gives you a real street address rather than a P.O. box number.
- Strike a balance between work and family life. Turn off the computer and turn down the ringer on the business phone when it's family time.
- When you work from home it's tempting to sleep in late. Instead, create a regular work schedule and stick to it. Your best bet is to work the same hours as your customers.
- Your new home-based venture may not be profitable immediately so consider a gradual transition from employment to business ownership. Start by running your home-based business on part-time basis to build your customer base and sales.
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