Many of the most successful corporations in the world, including Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Nike, started in the homes of their founders. Despite having little investment capital and a small workspace, hard work and dedication drove these businesses to the top of the global market. Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration reports that 52% of small businesses in the United States are home-based. Here are a few things to consider when starting a business from home.
Is Working From Home Right For YOU?
First, you obviously need to determine whether working from home is a viable option. Many entrepreneurs are happy and productive working from their home office, while others find it difficult to conduct business in this environment. While working from home certainly has its advantages (elimination of long commutes, convenience of flexible hours and the reduction of overhead costs, for example), it’s certainly not right for everyone. Before you make the commitment to work from home, ask yourself these questions.
- Are you self-disciplined?
- Are you good at time management?
- Can you prioritize tasks?
- Can you resist distractions?
- Do you have an organized workspace that is far removed from the rest of your home?
- Do you enjoy working without other people around?
Starting a business from home requires a self-starter mindset and an organized home office separated from the rest of the home and its many distractions. To maintain the health of your home-based business and keep from burning out, take small breaks from your work, exercise for a few minutes here and there, and establish a set work routine to stay on track.
How to Properly Equip Your Home Office
Thanks to major technological advances over the last ten years, it is more viable than ever to work remotely. All you really need to work from home is a good computer, a phone, a high-speed internet connection, and a few pieces of software to make your job easier.
A Customer Relationship Management Program: Track your leads easily with a CRM tool. These systems offer online databases to store your customers’ contact information and lead status while allowing you to assign certain projects and customers to individual employees or set reminders for upcoming tasks. There are many free CRM tools for small businesses, includingHubSpot, Insightly and Zoho. Find the one that works best for your business and stay on top of even the smallest customer communication tasks.
Online File Backup: When it comes to digital storage, it never hurts to have too many backup plans. DropBox, Google Drive and Microsoft One Drive are all great cloud-based storage options to preserve your files, provided you remember to set up your computer storage to regularly sync files to those databases. You can also use these tools to share documents with other people online. Other business storage options include Carbonite and Time Machine (for Macintosh computers). These programs store a copy of your entire computer and server (if applicable) so that you can easily get back to work should something happen to your files.
Industry-Specific Software: There are likely one or two specific tools required for your business. For example, Organizers Direct dealers use an intuitive program called LiveStorage™ to create custom home organization system designs on a laptop right in the customer’s home. Because it includes custom pricing schemes, inventory management and order processing tools, an Organizers Direct dealer can easily design, price and order many custom-sized products. Find out which type of software is required for your small business and make the investment; it will save you a lot of time and hassle in the future.
How to Handle Home Office Tax Deductions
As an entrepreneur working from home, you are likely eligible for many tax deductions. Your accountant can help you stay in compliance with all tax laws and show you how to get the tax benefits your business deserves. Most importantly, keep your tax records and all financial data organized, saving canceled checks, deposit slips and other records for at least seven years. Don’t wait until the last minute to delve into your business taxes; tax planning should be a year-round endeavor.
Starting a business from home is the most economical course of action for many entrepreneurs. Many of history’s greatest business owners began their companies without advanced degrees or a lot of startup capital. The greatest investment you will make is your time, focus and persistence. Prepare to work hard and never give up. If you’re ready to take the plunge, these tips for starting your own business can point you in the right direction.