The dictionary definition of a home business is a business which is primarily run from home. A small business from home would mean that you are making client calls, meeting business associates, answering emails, monitoring your website, pitching new clients, all of it while working from a room in your house. Your study room, the garage or a spare bedroom could well be your small business office space.
Before you decide that starting your small business from home is the best option for you, you must assess a few critical things. These are –
1.Is it legal to work from home in your area of residence? Check with your local homeowner association on what commercial activities may be operated from home. While some housing societies may have a strict rule forbidding owners from operating any type of business from their home or the garage, others may allow the running of small businesses.
2. How convenient would it be to operate from home? In the suburbs where the houses have large areas like a garden or an independent garage, the comings and goings of your business associates/ clients are unlikely to disturb the neighbours. If you work as an income tax consultant, you will certainly need a room with an independence entrance so that your clients can meet you without feeling that they are infringing on your family’s home. If you plan to operate as a freelance graphic designer, most of your client meetings will take place at the client’s site, which means you don’t need a dedicated room for your business at home; a small dedicated area to place your computer and printer would suffice.
3. Would you be able to project a professional image? If your small business idea involves meeting customers at your place of office, ensure that the room is well-lit, airy, and looks clean and professional. At the very least give your new office a paint job and arrange for necessary office infrastructure ( table, chairs, an internet connection, seating space etc.).
There are a few other things you can do to let people know you are serious about your home-based small business –
- Have a dedicated phone number for business calls.
- Use professional looking business stationery, including business cards, letterheads, business envelopes and invoice book. You can easily design and order these via online sites such as Vistaprint.
- If you don’t have access to an independent room at home, you can always arrange meetings at an off-site location.
- Using a co-working space a few days a week may be a good idea if you have young children at home. Booking a day office is ideal for brainstorming with your business partners, conducting meetings with your suppliers and important customers, or for networking with other business owners using the co-working space.
- While you may be working round the clock trying to turn your business idea into a reality, set regular business hours for your customers.
- Be professional in your email communications; follow these 12 email etiquettes
The journey of starting your small business from home is not going to be an easy one. For the small business owner, the stakes are always high especially when you are the primary bread- earner of the family, or if you plan to dig into your savings to fund the venture. If you are lucky, your business will break even in the first year. The transition to business ownership, therefore, must be made with a clear understanding of what your business stands for, who are your customers, how you will sell, and how will you ultimately make a profit.
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