In this 6-minute read:
- Tips to help your at-home business succeed
- Business plan
- Separate workspace
- Be disciplined and professional
- Marketing and tax laws
- Keep good records
- Hire the right people
Many entrepreneurs dream of working from the comfort of their own home. To get up when you want, determine your own hours, be your own boss, and do everything at your own convenience is the ultimate entrepreneurial paradise.
But working from home can come with its struggles too. Make your dream of working from home a success by following these organizational tips for starting your home-based small business.
1. Do market research before working from home
You need to make sure your at-home business is going to be successful in your area. Research your market to determine if your business idea is even a viable option.
Some things you should ask yourself and research before starting your home-based business:
- Who is your target market, and can you reach them from your home?
- What competitors exist in your area? Are they successful?
- Is there too much competition in your market?
- Is there a demand for your services/products?
- Do you have a unique angle that your business can offer that competitors aren’t already doing?
Make sure you have some value to offer your target customer base and that your market isn’t already saturated by the competition, otherwise it will be extremely difficult to get a foothold, whether you are working from home or not.
2. Develop a plan for your home-based business
Where do you want your business to be in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years? Maybe you don’t want your business to remain in your home forever, and maybe you do.
Come up with a detailed business plan that determines the rate at which you want to grow and how you can do that from your home (and whether you’re planning to move to a business space eventually).
If your hope is to grow your business to the point where you need a commercial space, then include that in your plan and figure out expenses.
3. Create a separate workspace
Once you’ve decided on your business concept and have decided to start it from your home, you need to create a dedicated workspace.
Whether this is an office within your home, the attic over the garage, or even a corner of your favorite coffee shop, you need to determine where you will get your work done every day.
Create a comfortable work environment for yourself where you can be the most productive. If you live with roommates or family members, help them to be aware of your workspace so it is respected as a professional environment separate from other parts of the home.
4. Set “work hours”
Discover your peak production periods and set your work hours during those times. Some people work best in the morning, while others prefer to get in a groove after dinner and work until 3 a.m.
One of the advantages of a home-based business is you can often work whenever you choose. Make sure to determine your work hours and stick to them, though.
Setting distinct work hours will help you to take necessary breaks and not spend all of your free time on your business.
It can be easy to get burnt out and overwhelmed by putting all of your time into your business, especially at the start. But it is vital to separate work time from “home time” to avoid burnout and stay productive.
Read this related article: How to maintain a healthy work-life balance
5. Be professional
It’s easy to get comfortable and want to roll out of bed and into work in your pajamas.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t do this, but maintaining a professional demeanor may help you feel more motivated and successful as you go about your workday.
Some easy ways to maintain professionalism as you work from home:
- Dress for success—you don’t have to wear a suit, but at least get up and get ready for your day
- Be professional with customers as you talk to them on the phone
- Keep your workspace tidy
- Don’t allow distractions like TV shows, video games, kids, significant others, or pets to enter your workspace during “work hours”
Of course, these are just guidelines, and everyone is different. You need to determine what works best for you and your business.
6. Market your home-based business
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t market your business. In fact, you probably have even more reason to market your business because you don’t benefit from a traditional commercial location that advertises itself.
A few ways to get on top of marketing for your at-home business:
- Build a website (there are plenty of inexpensive website options out there)
- Try using Google Ads to get your business in front of customers as you start
- Research and invest in local SEO
- Encourage your customers to leave online reviews to build up your reputation
7. Become familiar with business tax laws
When you start your own business, whether from home or in a commercial workspace, you should become familiar with applicable tax laws for your new business.
Depending on how you register your business, whether as a sole proprietorship or a corporation, you’ll have different tax obligations to adhere to.
Also, be aware of the types of deductions that you are qualified for with your at-home business as you get started. Any business expenses can and should be deducted from your taxes.
So, if you have an at-home office, keep good records of all of the expenses that go with that to make tax season a little more pleasant for you.
8. Check zoning laws in your city
Some cities have zoning laws that prevent people from running businesses, or certain types of businesses, out of their own homes.
Make sure that your city doesn’t have any laws such as this before you dive all in to your home-based business idea.
9. Keep good financial records
As with any business, you must keep excellent financial records. Smaller businesses, particularly sole proprietors who work from home, are at a higher risk of facing an IRS audit, so it is crucial to keep impeccable records.
A few ways to maintain better financial records for your at-home business:
- Create a separate checking and credit account for business expenses
- Don’t use your business card for personal expenses or vice versa
- Hire a bookkeeper or accountant, or use accounting software to keep track of your finances
10. Hire the right employees
Not everyone is fit to work remotely. If you need to hire extra help for your home-based business, make sure you find self-motivated individuals who have proven experience in working well on their own.
A remote team can be just as effective as an in-house team. And when you work from home, you’re likely to prefer working with remote employees than inviting them to your home every day.
A few tips for creating a strong remote team for your home-based business:
- Interview team members in person (when possible)
- Hire self-motivated individuals who are great with time management
- Communicate with team members regularly and encourage them to communicate with each other
- Hold weekly or biweekly video conference meetings to ensure that everyone is on task
Save yourself time with reputation management software
Running a business on your own is time-consuming. Save some time for yourself when it comes to your online reputation by using reputation management software.
Womply’s solution can help your small business with managing and responding to all your online customer reviews from one place, and you can even choose customizable auto-replies to reviews if you desire.
Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!