Now is as good as a time as ever to start a small business from home. If you’ve been putting off your dreams of starting a home business, what’s been stopping you? Are you intimidated by all of the things you have to do to get your business up and running? Trust me, it’s not as complicated as it seems. Let’s go through some of the essential steps needed to start your small business from home.
What you need to start a small business from home
Why start a business from home? Well, lots of reasons — no stuffy business clothes, no long commute, and no sharing a bathroom with your co-workers. If that’s not enough, with a small home-based business you have more control over your schedule and working conditions, you can be there for your kids when they get home from school, and there are some good tax advantages!
Create a business plan
Before you dive in and start your home-based business you should have some sort of business plan. How detailed your plan should be will depend on your business idea and whether or not you will be looking for external funding. For instance, if you want to start a home business as a freelance writer, social media manager, or virtual assistant then there will be a lot less to your business plan then if you want to start a home daycare.
However, there are some items that everyone should consider before starting a home business, even if you don’t formally write them into a business plan.
What is your idea and what need does it fill? If you’re a freelance writer, you fill the need for content creation. If you run a home daycare, you fill the need for childcare for working parents.
Who is your target customer? Who is going to pay you for your product or service?
Do you have the education and expertise necessary? What credentials are required? For example, you might need to update your CPR and first aid before you try to open a daycare.
Are there any legal requirements? Depending on your small business you might need to look into any possible legal requirements. For instance, if you want to open a home daycare, what legal requirements are necessary?
Does your home business require funding? Do you need money to get started? If so, where will you get it? Will you ask a family member, take out a small business loan, or apply for a grant? You will also need to know your numbers. How much do you need to get started? If you need help estimating your start-up costs, you can visit the Small Business Administration’s website here.
When it comes to starting a home business you’ll also need to think about the technology and equipment you might need. For instance, as a virtual assistant or social media manager, you’ll probably need a reliable laptop and smartphone. As a dayhome operator you’ll need a lot more stuff, like a home that is safe for children, toys, high chairs, somewhere for the children to sleep, and so on.
It’s not enough to just have an idea. You need to know your target audience. How will you reach those customers? WIll you use social media like Facebook and Twitter or other forms of digital marketing? Will you have a web presence? What’s your marketing strategy?
How to manage the financial side of your home-based business
Now that you have a plan in place and you’ve considered the physical tools and equipment that you’ll need to get started, what about the finances?
Are you good with numbers, or are you scared of them?
Like it or not, if you want to run a successful business, you’re going to need to manage your finances. Luckily, there are many great tools available to help you in this area.
If you need help with bookkeeping then you can check out tools like Quickbooks. Quickbooks is a cloud-based financial software program that can assist you in everything from creating invoices to tracking your sales and cash flow, and ensuring you have everything in order come tax time.
Freshbooks is another cloud-based option accounting tool. It can also help you track how long you spend on a client project, creates invoices, and even accepts client payments.
So, if you don’t want to spend time tracking your expenses, or if finances just aren’t your thing, don’t worry, there are plenty of tools out there to help. The important thing is to find a reliable tool or method to keep track of your finances. Doing this will ensure that you have your numbers in order when it comes time to pay your taxes.
Also remember, as a home-based business there are useful deductions you can make that businesses run outside of the home can’t take advantage of. For instance, you can claim a tax deduction for the space you use to run your business out of your home. This is completed on Form 8829.
You can also deduct things like office supplies, internet, and some travel expenses. For more information on small business tax deductions check out the IRS website here.
How to build an online presence for your home-based business
As a small business owner, you’re going to need customers, this is true whether you are selling a product or a service.
Finding customers takes work. No matter what your business is, it’s incredibly useful and important to build an online presence. Having a website and social media accounts will help people to get to know you and your small business.
There are a few things you can do to begin to build your online presence including:
Create a website – a solid website can act as your home base. This is where you can inform your customers about how awesome your product or service is and a place where they can go to get in touch with you. (And there are lots of website builder options that can help you get started).
Create social media accounts – it’s important that you’re active on social media. You don’t need to be busy on every platform but you do need to post regularly. Remember, there’s a ton of noise out there. If you aren’t posting consistently, people will forget about you, or worse, they’ll never find you in the first place.
Create lots of amazing content – include a blog on your website and continually offer new and amazing content. Become a force in your area of expertise.
Optimize – if you want to get more site views think about hiring a search engine optimization (SEO) expert. Or, watch some SEO tutorials on YouTube and do it on your own.
Network, network, network – this will help you to get your name out there. Attend conferences (online and in-person), reach out to people on LinkedIn, join your local chamber of commerce. Do what you have to do to get recognized and land that first client.
Be so good they can’t ignore you – when you finally land that first client, be so good that they will sing your praises. Not only will they tell their friends, who will tell their friends but, ask them if they’d be willing to provide a written testimonial and put it on your website.
Work, work, work
Starting a small business takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of focus, perseverance, and the ability to learn from your mistakes. But, starting a small home business also comes with a ton of perks in the form of autonomy, flexibility, and creative control.
You need more than a home business idea and a vague notion of potential customers to become an entrepreneur. You need the drive to find customers, fund your startup costs, build marketing materials, and do all the other hard work associated with building your own business. Creating a new business from scratch is not an easy road — but if you’re willing to put the work in, it can be very rewarding.
If you’ve been putting off your dream of running a small business from home now’s the time to go for it. Create your business plan, decide how you want to manage your finances, create your online presence, and then wow your clients with your skills, expertise, and work ethic.
–By Jessica Martel