Your Home Based Business: How to Get it Right the First Time

More and more of us are craving a reward that the standard 9-to-5 just can’t deliver - a great work-life balance. Whether it’s because you want to free up more time to dedicate to a cause you’re passionate about, you have family commitments to juggle, or you just want to avoid the anxiety and energy drain resulting from many corporate roles, many now dream of starting their own small enterprises. Being able to set the boundaries in your life is incredibly empowering – along with organizing your time exactly how you want it, or working in an area or on a project that you have a genuine love for. But what is the reality of operating a home-based business and how do you make it work for you? The answer lies in being properly prepared before you dive in.

Evaluate Your Talents

What we dream of doing and what we have the skills to make work can sometimes be poles apart, so before making any big moves or committing any more, it's important to have an honest evaluation of your talents. You may be extremely creative, a strong project manager that’s good with detail, or be great at communicating. Your past successes and job roles should inform where you have been most effective. Its critical to be honest with yourself about what these talents are, and how they align with what you want to do. Starting a business offers many benefits, but its not for everyone. If you’ve never been self-employed before, do you have the right qualities to become an entrepreneur? You will need lots of motivation, the ability to persevere through tough times, be able to take the initiative, be good at finding solutions and being self-reliant, and be good at coping with uncertainty. If that isn’t you, then consider if you could meet your needs by working from home for someone else, or whether you are better off as a salaried employee.

Find The Skills You Need

While natural talents and inclinations are an important part of the picture, there is also a case to be made for skills – these are attributes that can be learned with the right training. You may need specific training around the business you want to build – for example, if you have a natural talent for organizing and numbers that’s one thing, but you may need the training to become a book-keeper first. Or if you’ve always dreamed of starting that cake making business, you may have natural design flair and people skills, but you might need to know how to get your food handler certification online. Work out what qualifications you need to become operational in your chosen sector, and what would be nice to have. This training will need funding and will be time away from core business operations, so it's important to ensure it’s the right thing.

Create a Business Plan

You have the right talents and the right skills; you’ve figured out a home-based business idea that works for you – now for the acid test. Don’t make the mistake of plunging straight in to see how it goes – you need to be reasonably sure that you’ll be able to turn a profit. There’s no getting away from the fact that your business won’t succeed on passion alone  - you still need to identify and answer market demand, and make enough money to cover your overhead and bills. Market research and a solid business plan are non-negotiable, even if you aren’t seeking outside investment at this stage. What are people paying for similar products and services at the moment? How is your proposal better? Is there enough demand for what you want to do? All of these factors need to add up and pay enough for you to make a living, or the business will never be viable. Remember to construct a reasonable estimate of expenses that you’ll run into along the way – what’s left over is your profit. It may be quite a slim margin, in which case, will you be able to both generate and keep up enough demand to make it all pay? If the numbers don’t add up to begin with, how can you make them work? For example, if you ran the business part-time, would that make the numbers work? You can always start slowly and build up gradually to where you want to be. Your business plan must add up because if it doesn’t, you’re back to square one and stand likely to lose money and time.

Get The Legal Side Right

It's important to ensure that you begin your business life on a fully legal basis. There are many forms of business ownership including licensing as a sole trader, a partnership, or a corporation. Which one is right depends on your operation and your plans for its growth. Register your business name, and make sure the website domain and social media handles you need for your business are available – these are crucial for getting business in so don’t make them an afterthought. You will also need to make sure that you’re set up for the correct taxes and consider what business liability insurance you may need -  what happens if vital equipment breaks or you fall ill or get injured and are unable to work? What licenses do you need to operate legally? Looking up advice from an industry body or trade association is a good way forward – they will have the best understanding of the sector you’re operating in and it's requirements.

Have The Courage of Your Convictions

While it’s important to do the necessary analysis before you proceed, remember that belief in yourself and your business idea is equally vital to its success. Deciding to run your own business from home should never be a rash decision. But if you’ve done your homework, there’s equally no reason why it shouldn’t be a success. It could be the most satisfying thing you’ve ever done and give you the focus and balance you’ve been searching for. You’re becoming part of a network of thousands of other small business people, so have the belief and the preparation that you can make a success of it.

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