When I first started my business, like many start-up operations, I decided to work from home.
I equipped an empty bedroom with a card table for a desk, cardboard boxes for filing cabinets and my dogs served as my office assistants. Voila! I was ready to roll, and it was great.
I could go to work in my fuzzy pink robe and bunny slippers. After all, no one other than the dogs would know.
Start-up business operations are always strapped for cash. It’s much less expensive to conduct business from your home than to rent commercial office space. And thanks to the Internet and technology home-based businesses can easily become international enterprises.
But before you set up shop in your spare bedroom, basement or garage there are some important considerations.
First, make sure your neighborhood allows home-based businesses.
Many subdivisions or complexes have restrictions which prohibit you from conducting business out of your home. You should also check the zoning laws for your community. Make sure you can legally run a business in your home.
Select an appropriate space in your home to set-up your office.
You’ll need to find an area that is away from the day-to-day activities in your household. Let everyone know that it is your business area and not a family gathering place.
Manage your time wisely.
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when working from home are the many distractions. Friends call. Children need attention. Household chores can sidetrack you or a cup of coffee and the Oprah show may seem more interesting than making sales calls.
Commit to what hours will be your “working” hours and ask friends and family to respect that commitment. That means you must also be dedicated to “going to work” even if it is in the bedroom down the hall.
In the first paragraph, I joked about going to work in my bathrobe and bunny slippers.
In reality, I am always dressed professionally when I hit my home office for a couple of reasons. First, I feel more like I’m in the “business mode.” Plus, I’ve been caught a few times when a media outlet calls for an on-camera interview and I haven’t even showered yet. Yikes!
Check with your insurance agent about coverage for your home-based business.
If you plan to have customers or clients coming to your home, you may need additional liability insurance. Also, some homeowner’s policies won’t cover losses pertaining to home-based businesses.
Don’t isolate yourself.
A major adjustment for home-based business entrepreneurs is the lack of interaction with others. Make time to attend networking events. Go to lunch with other business owners, clients, or prospects.
Select a legal structure for your business.
Frequently, home-based businesses are sole proprietorships because they are easy to set-up. There’s no paperwork involved and for the most part, all you need to do is select a name for your company and set up a separate checking account.
You may need to file a fictitious name registration if the business name is something other than your personal name. However, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney as to what type of legal entity would be best for your particular business.
Research tax issues before you start your home-based business.
There is a home-based business deduction, but you should consult with a tax professional before deciding to use it. In some cases, it may not be the best choice for your personal situation.
If you want to see your business grow, look into the legal requirements, make a schedule, stick to it, and take your business seriously.
Building a business takes time so don’t get discouraged. But remember, if you are a home-based business, you get to go to work in your bunny slippers.
You can find more marketing tips from Susan here, including her most popular post: 10 Ways to Market Your Small Business on a Shoestring Budget.
About the Author: Susan Solovic is THE Small Business Expert. Sign up for Susan’s Success Tips Newsletter and get your free copy of “Smart Marketing Strategies for Small Biz” ebook.