Are you bored in your current role, want something a bit more flexible or just fancy the idea of working from home? Running your own business could be the answer- you get to do something you’re passionate about, and it can be very lucrative too if you go about it the right way. You can fit it around your other commitments, and as you will be working from home, there’s no commute or additional cost for premises. However, there are a few things to bear in mind before taking the plunge, here are some of the questions you should be asking yourself!
Can You Afford It?
Many home businesses cost next to nothing to set up, some can be done entirely with equipment you already have. Others you may need to buy specialist equipment, it could be a professional printer for a print business, tools, and materials for a homemade jewelry business or money to buy stock if you want to sell ready made items. But it’s not just startup costs to consider, it could take a while for your business to get off the ground and start turning enough profit for you to live off. Are you able to afford to have a few months (or longer) without earning much? Before quitting your day job you could save up to give yourself that buffer. Otherwise you could speak to your partner and work out if you can live off one wage for a while. Alternatively, you might be entitled to some help from the government. Either way, explore your options. You don’t want to go into it with all guns blazing and realize you can’t cover your monthly bills or afford to live!
What Will You Be Selling?
Will you be selling physical products or services? If you’re selling products, will you be making them yourself, or buying from a wholesaler and selling for a profit? Will you be having your own products manufactured by another company and then shipped to you to sell? If you will be selling products from home, one main consideration is space and storage. If you have a spare room you can use for stock, kit it out with lots of shelving units to maximize the space. You can use pos software to help track your inventory and sales which make light work of an otherwise tedious task. Another consideration when you’re selling physical items is shipping. You will need to budget for packing materials and postage or delivery. Selling physical items might be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about setting up a business, but there are other options too. You can sell services such as writing or online tutoring, or even turn a blog into a business with the help of affiliates and sponsorships. Or you could sell digital items- blog and website designs, banners, graphics and clip art are all options.
Do You Have a Sufficient Office or Workspace?
Speaking of workspace, as well as a place to store stock (if you sell items) you also need a good area to actually work from. If you’re serious about making your online business a success, it makes sense to create a home office you can work from. It gives you a quiet area to get things done and helps keep all of your work things together. It can also help to create a better balance at home. If you work from your office and set your hours, it stops your workday blending into your free time which is so easily done when you have your own business. It’s important to know when to stop, while it’s great that you can be flexible with your hours you don’t want to get burned out by working every hour you can. Try having weekends off or at least one day in the week where you can recuperate. You’ll find you go back to it with a much fresher outlook after a rest. Invest in a good desk, the largest one that will comfortably fit in the room. An ergonomically designed chair, and a powerful, reliable computer. When it comes to business these days much of it is online, from communication with customers to advertising to accounts, so you need a machine that won’t let you down. Buy a good filing cabinet for any paper files, and all of the stationery and other things you might need to run your business. Make the space pleasant to work from, after all, you’ll be spending a good portion of your time here. Light colored walls will make it feel spacious, plants will liven up the room, and a couple of personal touches could help too. Sites like Pinterest have loads of ideas for home office inspiration.
Will You Sell From Your Own Website or Use an Online Marketplace?
Will you mainly be selling from your own website, or will you use an online marketplace like eBay and Etsy? If you use a website, you need to factor in website design, and also work on advertising to promote it and boost the rankings in search engines. Since this can be expensive and time-consuming, one option would be to set up a website from the beginning but focus your efforts on your eBay or Etsy shop. Over time your website will gain authority, and as your company becomes more well known you might find repeat customers prefer to use your main site. Online marketplaces can be useful because as a small business you’re more likely to get seen. But you do have fees and things to pay when you use them, and you can be limited on the amount of items you sell- especially at first.
What Licences and Permits Do You Need?
When you work from home, you generally avoid the need for complicated licenses and permits. However, there are a couple of occasions where you might need to apply for permission. For example, if your business involves food in any way you will likely need a food hygiene safety certificate and your property registered with environmental health. You have to adhere to strict hygiene laws to keep your customers safe, and the council has the ability to come and check on you at any time to ensure that they are being met. If you’re selling food items, you usually need a separate fridge to the one you use for your family and pets aren’t allowed to enter the area amongst other things. Another type of business you will need to get the correct license for is if you plan on selling things like medicines, Chinese medicine or herbal remedies. Don’t just overlook this or assume, make sure you do your research and find out if there are any certificates, qualifications or licenses you legally need before running your business.
What Tax and Legal Stuff Do You Need To Consider?
If you set up a business, even if it’s very small and not likely to earn money for a while, the tax office will want to know about it. You should register with them within three months of setting up, even if you haven’t earned a penny. Once you have started earning over a certain threshold you will begin paying tax on your profits, find out the exact procedure for paying tax in your country. Make sure you keep accurate accounts, there are all kinds of business accounting software programs out there you could use to make life easier. When it does come to tax time, you will know exactly what you owe, if you do owe anything. Making sure it’s all on paper and registered means you will avoid fines and penalties. It all sounds scary and daunting, but really it’s just a case of five minutes online getting everything registered, and a form to fill in once a year. You can pay any tax you owe as a lump sum or spread the cost. Before setting up your business you need to decide if you’re a sole trader (an individual) partnership or limited company. If you choose to take on employees you will be responsible for finding out if they’re legally allowed to work in the country, that they’re legally old enough and in some places you will legally have to offer a workplace pension scheme. Make sure you’re up to date with the law, speak to a solicitor if needs be, to make sure you’re following the rules correctly.
Setting up your own business may well be one of the best things you ever do. You get to pour your energy and efforts into something you care about, rather than be stuck in the rat race working nine to five to make a big company lots of money. You can work it around your lifestyle so is fantastic if you have kids or other commitments, and you can utilize your skills to make you money.
Do you run a business from home? What kinds of products or services do you sell?