Every penny makes a difference when you start a business, so many entrepreneurs save on office rentals and overhead costs by starting their businesses from home. It requires some planning and dedication, but there are a few simple steps you can take to get your business off the ground and start your journey to success.
Set Aside a Dedicated Office
When you launch your home-based business, you'll want to have a dedicated work area. Your home office should be quiet enough for you to focus and concentrate and allow you to make phone or video calls without interruption from family members. The Small Business Administration points out that your family should treat your workspace as a designated work area, not just another room in your home.
Determine Your Utility Needs
Evaluate your home utilities to make sure they'll meet the demands of your home-based business. Your residential Internet connection may fully support home use, but you may have to upgrade it for business functions such as video conferencing and large file transfers. If you plan to make or take calls related to your business, install a separate phone line for business purposes. Many entrepreneurs choose to add a mobile phone to their existing personal plan, or you can use an app to add a second line to your smart phone for a nominal monthly charge. If your business requires that you send or receive faxes, consider whether you should invest in a dedicated fax line or an online faxing service.
The Internal Revenue Service offers several tax deductions related to your dedicated home office space and related utility costs. Check the IRS website to make sure your work area meets the requirements.
If your home-based business involves selling products, figure out where you're going to store your inventory and prepare orders for shipment. If your order volume is small and your home office has enough space, you can simply store your inventory at home and personally ship it as you receive orders. As your business grows, however, it may become necessary to rent a storage facility or pay a fulfillment service to store, process and ship orders for you.
Check Local Licensing Requirements
Even though you won't have a physical storefront, the Small Business Administration points out that almost all businesses require some sort of license. Check with your city or county offices to obtain the proper licenses, keeping in mind that you may need both a city and county license to legally conduct business. Your city and county licensing officials can also tell you whether your home is subject to zoning ordinances that may prevent you from entertaining customers or employees, or from conducting certain types of business altogether.
Hire Employees Carefully
Unless your home is large enough to provide additional space for your employees, they won't have an office where they can collaborate and communicate daily. According to a 2013 article in Forbes, not all employees thrive in remote work arrangements. As your business grows and you take on workers, be sure to screen applicants to find out who might be uncomfortable without an office or lack the initiative to successfully work from his own home.
- U.S. Small Business Administration: 10 Steps to Starting a Business
- U.S. Small Business Administration: Home Based Businesses
- U.S. Small Business Administration: What Licenses and Permits Does Your Business Need?
- Forbes: Working From Home
- Entrepreneur: The Basics of Starting a Home-Based Business
- American Express: 10 Tips for Starting a Home-Based Food Business
Keith Evans has been writing professionally since 1994 and now works from his office outside of Orlando. He has written for various print and online publications and wrote the book, "Appearances: The Art of Class." Evans holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication from Rollins College and is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership from Andrew Jackson University.