Ten Important Steps to Starting Your Home Business
1. Decide on the kind of business you want to start
This is probably the most important step you will make. Why? If you choose something that you do not have a passion for you will fail or you will be miserable. Ideally, you want to do something that does not feel like a job. Something that you truly enjoy doing every day because you are going to spend many hours working this business, you may as well enjoy it.
2. Check zoning laws in your area
Once you decide on the type of home business, you want to run you will need to check the zoning laws in your area to make sure you CAN run a home business. Yes, sometimes city zones are set up in such a way that you cannot have certain businesses in your home. You should find out about this before you invest too much time into your new business idea. Even if the zoning laws are against you, you can petition to have the zone changed or you can seek to rent an office. In some instances, you can rent an office for as little as $100 a month.
3. Name your business.
Pick a name that can grow with you and that is catchy and easy to remember. You could also use your name. I like names that tell you what the business does in the title. Such as, “Bob’s Handyman Service”, this name gives you an idea of what Bob does. When running a business out of your home this will help cut down on advertising costs. A nice car decal that says Bob’s Handyman Service and a phone number will work wonders. Where as a made up name or word would not be very clear without a lot of marketing.
4. Register your business name and get the appropriate licenses and permits from your city, county and state.
Yes, this is necessary. You can find out information about this by checking with your city offices, local universities, and chamber of commerce.
5. Write a business plan.
You do not have to get fancy with your business plan. If you can answer most of the questions that are in this list, you can write a good business plan. Make sure to list how you will earn money, how you will pay for things, and how things will be at start up, and how the situation will look two, three, and five years down the line. There are many programs to help you write a business plan.
6. How will you finance your business?
Decide on how you will finance your business. When you write your business plan, you can use this process to help you figure out how you plan to finance your business. You can seek out business loans from the small business administration; you can use your own personal line of credit, or find a partner with the money. It is not a good idea to try to run a business on a wing and a prayer. You CAN however choose to start your business part time, at home, using your current job as income, moving slowly with the hours you have left each day to develop your business without ever borrowing any money. Many businesses fail not due to a bad idea, but due to poor money management and estimates of start up that are far lower than what it really cost. Be realistic.
7. Open a business checking account.
Many banks will give you a nice deal on a “doing business as” checking account. My bank allows me to use my personal bank account as my business account as well. I get one bank statement broken up into what was a business expense or income and what was personal. It makes life simple. Decide on what sort of accounting method you will use. Accrual or Cash basis. This is also a good time to purchase some sort of accounting software. Quicken has many options to choose from that are reasonable priced.
8. Buy your supplies and set up your utilities.
Get your phone lines, internet connection, computer and other office equipment set up. You will need pencils, pens, staples, paper clips and more. Order business cards, letterhead, stationary, staples, filing cabinets, telephones. This will give your business a professional image. Set up your office, decide on a space, patrician it off if you have to but find a space that is only for business so that your family knows when you are in that space you are working. Not only that, you can save money on your taxes if you organize your home office correctly and we all know how much fun saving money on taxes is. Check out the IRS website for more information on having a home office.
9. Check out the resources at the post office and alternative postal services.
You may be surprised at what the Post office and UPS can do for you. We also now have DHL so there are many choices for your postal needs. If you are going to do a lot of mailing, see about getting a bulk-mailing permit. Perhaps study the different mailers that UPS or DHL uses. Tell the managers what you need and see what they can come up with to help you.
10. Last but not least, join the Chamber of Commerce.
In fact, join any professional organization that you can join. Even though you have a home business, you are indeed a business; you will be able to use the resources that are available for you at the Chamber or other organizations. You will also get a lot of valuable networking and have fun by going to the events.