Home-based businesses are popular with those who want to earn extra income, be close to their young children or just like the comfort and flexibility of working at home. A home business can be a low-cost opportunity for anyone with the determination to start a business and the discipline to separate the business activities from home life. The North Carolina Department of Commerce has many resources to help entrepreneurs with a business start-ups.
Write a business plan for your home-based business. Initial business plans can be a simple road map for starting the business. If you plan to approach a bank or venture capitalist for start-up capital, however, your business plan should be comprehensive and detailed. It should include a summary of the home-based business idea, details of each product or service, an evaluation of the marketplace and competitors, a marketing plan and financial information such as start-up fees, marketing costs and salaries. Business plan templates are available at SCORE.org and business.gov websites. North Carolina residents can contact the BusinessServi Center for free help with business plans.
Register the business and apply for a state business license through the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State office if your business is a corporation, LLC, LLP or limited partnership. Register sole proprietorships and general partnerships with the County Register of Deeds office. Inquire about local business licenses through your city, town or county and confirm that your business won't violate zoning ordinances. Apply for North Carolina retail sales and use tax license if your business sells retail items and/or rents tangible property. Use form NC-BR and send by mail or complete the form on the Secretary of State website.
Apply for a federal Employer Identification Number through the Internal Revenue Service website. An EIN is required for federal tax filing and opening a bank account.
Organize your home office. Designate an area in your home for business. This can be a room with a desk, computer and office supplies. If you sell products, have an area for item storage, order filling and shipping. Keep business areas separate from your family living space.
Get funding from a bank, venture capitalist or the U.S. Small Business Administration if you need it. The business plan and a persuasive elevator pitch will be critical to securing funding. An elevator pitch is a 30-second summary of your business you can use on investors. Practice reciting your pitch before you meet with a potential investor.
Market your business by word of mouth, online marketing and print or radio ads. Online advertising can include pay per click advertising or social media marketing through Facebook, Twitter and other social websites. Hire a marketing specialist or visit a SCORE office for help with your marketing.
Save a portion of your earnings each month to sustain the business during slow months.
Consider renting a meeting space to maintain a professional appearance with clients.
- North Carolina Department of Commerce: Business Start-Up Checklist
- North Carolina Department of Commerce: Who Should Register and File for Sales and Use Tax?
- North Carolina Department of Commerce: Start your business in North Carolina
- Business.gov: Zoning laws for home based businesses
- SCORE.org: How to set up a home-based business
- North Carolina Department of Revenue: Sales and Use Tax Forms and Certificates
- North Carolina Department of the Secretary of Sate: Corporations Division
- North Carolina Department of Commerce: Doing business in North Carolina - FAQs
- IRS.gov: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) Online
- Business.gov: Home based businesses
- Woman working on laptop at home on the couch. image by Andy Dean from Fotolia.com