You’ve dreamed of having a home business for years now but don’t know the first thing about how to get started.
That’s okay. Few people do when they first begin. Use these quick tips to help you get started on turning your home business dream into a reality.
Decide what type of home business you want
This may seem obvious, but sometimes this is the hardest part of starting a home business. There are just so many choices! So a good rule of thumb here is to think about your current skills, personality, objectives, and passions. Yes, passions. The most successful home businesses are the ones people are truly passionate about and willing to work hard at.
Make a business plan
You can’t get anywhere unless you know where you’re going. Think of starting a home business the same you would think of building a house. Your business plan is your blueprint for how you plan to build your home business. And it should include your all your financial, marketing, and growth objectives, along with how you’ll achieve them, for a minimum of two years.
Especially from your family members. Your home may be your place of business, but it’s still their home. And having a home business will affect them. So discuss it with your family, and get as many issues out into the open as possible, then make arrangements for how you will deal with those issues. Also, get the support from as many friends as possible to help keep you excited about starting and running your home business.
Obtain any necessary licenses
Do this in the beginning rather than as you go along. Because once you have your home business up and running, it’s often hard to find time to do this. It can also save you some nasty surprises down the road. If your neighborhood has a regulation against home businesses, you need to know that.
At least the essentials for your home business. You may not be able to get everything you need immediately, but get as much as you can. After all, it’s just impossible to do any job well without the proper tools.
Plan for taxes
Because the tax man always cometh, even when you have your own home business. So be ready for him. Estimate what your taxes will be and make plans for how you’ll pay them. Get advice from professionals if you need to. Doing this will ensure you sleep a lot better-especially on April 15th!
Starting a Business Checklist
You’ve decided to start a business. So now what?
If you’ve made your decision to start your own business, you may be a bit overwhelmed by the prospect, and wonder what to do first. There are many books out there for start-up business people, but a simple checklist is often a good way to get organized. After you have a handle on the basics, you’ll feel more calm and ready to tackle some of the larger tasks.
Here’s a checklist you may find helpful in getting you started:
Check your credit rating BEFORE you go to a bank for a loan (most have errors and it can take a month or more to correct them, so be sure you’ve done your homework before you are surprised by what your bank finds).
Look for different types of loans, and be sure that the kind of business you start is adequately supported by the line of credit or loan you get (if you are doing import-export you will need a bank that issues letters of credit and does accounts receivables finance. If you intend to purchase a lot of inventory, you’ll need a bank that will help you finance that upfront).
What equipment will you need to start your business (computers, copiers, specialized equipment for industries like construction and beauty salons). Can you rent or lease and get the bank to finance these? Do you have service contracts?
If you are working at home, do you have the space to store files, copiers, inventory etc? (Be sure to talk to your accountant about the percentage of space you can write off on your taxes and what utilities you can write off).
If you are renting space for your business in your community, be sure it has ample foot traffic to bring customers to your store, ample parking and store frontage and that the location suits the kind of business you want to start. Don’t let a realtor talk you into a space that you can’t use or that is not suitable for your type of business. You wouldn’t put a health spa in an industrial park. Don’t take more square footage than you really need. You can always expand if your business is wildly successful, but until then, don’t pay for space you can’t use).
Talk to other businesses in your area and find out about suppliers and resources (for things like office supplies, office equipment etc to be sure you can get discounts and that you are dealing with suppliers who deliver frequently in your neighborhood).
Join local business organizations. You’ll get lots of referrals and business from other small business people to get you started (chambers of commerce, rotary clubs etc).
Check out state and federal funding for businesses through the Small Business Association and get help putting together a business plan and other documents from SCORE (those retired business people who love to help you get going).
Look at your local competitors and focus on what they don’t do well that you believe your customers will want, then do it (whether it’s an expanded product line, customer service or some other aspect of the business, you have to differentiate yourself from those who have a leg up on those who are already in business).
Don’t make the mistake of spending a lot of money on institutional type advertising with big ads in newspapers etc. (You can put up signs announcing a grand opening outside the store, or send out direct mail advertising in the community. It’s inexpensive and you are likely to get more business. Put coupons in the mailers that will attract people to come in and look around).
If you are starting an internet business, or augmenting your business with a website, be sure to do your homework. Look online, using your search engine and find those websites that are competitive with yours in terms of the products and services they provide. See how they do things. (Notice the keywords they use to attract customers who are typing in certain terms into a search engine and be sure you use the right keywords in the content on your website so that search engines like Google, Mama, Dogpile, Yahoo, and others can find you when your prospective customer types in the term on which they want to search. Don’t spend huge sums of money on a website to start. Start simple! Give information about how to find your business, what you are selling and maybe provide a simple storefront if you are going to sell on the net. See how it works. You can always expand the site and hire a more expensive designer, if things take off).
Do you have all the skills and knowledge you need to start your business, or should you consider a partner or business manager who will help you run the business?
There are many other things to consider when you start a new business, but this simple checklist will get you started. I would strongly suggest that you tap the resources offered by the Small Business Administration and by SCORE if you have never started a business before. They will help you get organized and provide expertise in certain areas where you may be less skilled.