These articles will provide a step by step guide on how to start and run a home based business based on my experiences and other home business owners. This is part 2 in a series of 5 articles. They are written in a basic format and where possible main points are summarised in an attempt to be understood by all. I have tried to minimise the technical jargon as much as possible.
So lets jump right in and see what we need to know about starting and running a home based business.
The legal structure of your business is very important as it is a function of liabilities and tax deduction. The most common structures are:
- Sole trader
When you are a sole trader you are personally responsible and liable for the business and its activities. Commonly you may start out as a sole trader, and as you expand, you will need to seek out partners or investors. Your accountant is the best person to advise you if this is the best structure for your business.
This arrangement is where you and your partner are liable for anything related to your business. It is a very good idea to get a solicitor to write up a partnership agreement to avoid disputes down the track.
This is a legal entity liable for the debts it incurs and paying tax on income. Your accountant can help you set a company up, or you can buy one off the shelf, which may be more cost effective.
Depending on your personal circumstances, and the country you live in, trusts can be useful in business and estate planning. They can be quite complex, and again, your accountant is the best person to speak too.
Registering Your Business Name
You can operate a business under your own name or register a business name. Registration of a business name allows you to operate under that name.
Select a name for your business that describes to your customer what you do. A descriptive name promotes and advertises your business more effectively.
Licences And Permits
Depending on your municipality, you may need licences and permits. Do the right thing and check with your local council. Doing the right things now will save you a lot of unnecessary leg work later.
Often overlooked, insurance is an important part of your risk management plan. There are two types of insurance: general insurance for loss/damage of assets and risk insurance which is your personal insurance cover.
Ensure your business insurance is separate to your personal insurance.
To establish the type and amount of insurance you need for your home based business, check with an insurance broker.
You must have a risk management strategy for your business. Your SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analysis from article one, will show what could expose your business to loss and what actions to take to reduce that loss.
As a home business entrepreneur, you must understand what your customers want and give it to them. You must strive to have a service or product that meets and excels your customers needs and expectations. This is what makes them come back to buy from you, and this is how you grow your profit. Try and think like your customers and you will find they want:
- Value for money
Don’t confuse marketing with selling. In a home based business, marketing is much much more and involves all aspects of the business- pricing, advertising, customer service to sales.
Communication with your customers is essential and develops the framework for your marketing strategy. You must tell your customers these important bits of information
- Product- describe it in full detail, its special features and of course how it will benefit the customer
- Price – explain your pricing strategy, don’t forget to consider your costs, discounts you will offer, payment policies
- Promotion – choose the most effective for your type of business. If you don’t know, think about what you would prefer if you were the customer. Eg: telemarketing, flyers, e-mail campaigns
- Place – what place will your product be so customers can find it and contact you. How will you deliver the product to your customers? You may need to consider getting a website.
Your Business Image
Even though you are running a home based business, make sure your office is comfortable and professional in appearance. Your website also needs to project the same kind of professionalism
Your home based business needs its own dedicated area. Very often the living and working areas muddle into one, not allowing you to distinguish which is for work and for play. Keeping these separate is essential for running a home business. You must ensure that all family members understand this too.
A telephone is essential in your home office as it will be the first point of contact with your clients. Installing a second phone line separate from the personal line is essential along with a cell phone, answering machine and a pager. Talk to your telecommunications company, very often they have some great packages suited to small businesses.
Furniture And Equipment
Choose furniture that is comfortable and professional. This helps distinguish this area from the rest of the household.
Your office needs equipment and here are a few to get you kick started
- Fax machine
- Filing cabinet
- Mobile phone
I hope this article has set you on the path to create your own home based business and empower you to reach your financial destiny.
In the next article, I will cover some of the ins and outs of operating a small business from home.
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