No matter how much people enjoy working for someone else, they always feel things could be better working on their own business. The reasons are always different; either so they could earn more money, have more freedom for what they deem important, or work on that great idea. The bottom line is this; almost everyone wants to have a business of their own. Studies have in fact shown that 40% of employees hope to start their own business someday.
So, Why Home Based Business?
Starting a business or running one is not as daunting as it used to be. A stint at Harvard Business School or an Ivy League school is no longer a requirement to successfully operate a business. As we speak, more than 50% of American businesses are home-based, while another study points to the fact that 69% of the well-established corporations you know today, started from home. Apple, Amazon, Facebook and several other Fortune 500 companies once had their founders’ home doubling as office space. The good thing about home-based businesses is that they require less startup capital as certain expenses, such as office space rent and some other space-related permits won’t be needed. This gives you the ability to spend on important things; the opportunity to learn what it takes to grow a business, as against to starting big which is a lot riskier.
Below is a list of tools you will need if you are thinking of starting a home based business:
1. Clear Business Plan
A report by Small Business Administration reveals that about one third of startups don’t survive their second year. The first step to avoid being on the bad side of the statistics is to do your homework and the best place to begin is to draw a well mapped-out business plan. Drawing a business plan forces you to answer questions such as what are the skills, products and services you intend to sell; the group of people you’re targeting and your mode of delivery; who your competitors are, and so on. This is also where you learn about the startup expenses.
This is actually the peskiest part of starting any business, but having a solid foundation will go a long way in ensuring you don’t end up in the waters.
Generic Business Plan
This is a Generic Business Plan. It is a formal document that is used to outline all the aspects of a business including a Company Summary, a Market Analysis Summary and a Financial Plan.
2. License or Permit
Your business- even though it is run from home- should be separate from you; it becomes a legal entity on its own. The rules that govern businesses are different depending on the location and the laws that regulate home-based businesses tend to be quite different from that of a business operating away from home. Since you are operating from a residential location or space, you need to know what can and can’t be done so, the ideal thing to do will be to consult your local government area’s office for the necessary permits.
3. A Dedicated Work Space
Having a separate place dedicated to work as a home-based business is a necessity. No matter what part of the house you intend on using—be it the spare bedroom, the garage, the living room—make sure it has ‘work’ written all over it and set a strong boundary so people know whenever you’re there, it’s work time. A study shows that for every minute of distraction we indulge in, it takes 25 minutes to return to the previous state or flow. Having a dedicated workspace will, in effect, impose on you some form of compulsion to work whenever you are in that space which will in turn increase your productivity and help you get work done.
4. A Desktop Computer or a Laptop
By all metrics, this is the most important tool every entrepreneur must have in this digital age. From planning to writing, communicating, networking and promoting your business online, you need a computer.
The continuous advancement in hardware also means the price of computers continues to shrink and with just a few hundred dollars, you can get a complete desktop computer or laptop with decent configuration.
5. Invest in Ergonomics- Productivity Enhancing Furniture
You need standard office tailored furniture even for your home based business. In choosing your home-office furniture, it is important that you bring your comfort, your health and productivity to the fore. Talk to your local furniture vendors for expert’s advice; there are several ergonomically designed furniture to help you get more work done, and also make sure you’re not jeopardizing your health.
6. Fast Internet
One of the catalysts to this burgeoning work-from-home trend is the fact that the internet seems to be available everywhere. In order to run a business, keeping in touch with every person that is involved in every arm of the business is key—from partners, to suppliers, and clients. The need to send emails, download important files or occasional video conferencing are all activities that rely heavily on the presence of fast internet connection.
The need always varies, so it would be better to seek an expert’s advice—especially from your ISP (Internet Service Provider)—informing them of the various internet-related activities you intend on carrying out in your office so you can be advised on internet plans that better suit your needs.
7. A Platform- Website with a Blog
No matter the nature of your business, consider having a website with a blog. Since your home-office is not open to public, a website with a blog comes handy in attracting new customers or clients and gives your prospective clients an idea of what you do. Businesses that have a website perform better than the ones without— especially when they have a blog- a whopping 126% difference.
With less than a $100, you can have a simple website with a blog running within days; that amount should cover the hosting of the site and the design- in case you’re outsourcing that.
8. Collaborative Tools
One of the most important aspects of home-based businesses is the fact that, physical presence or location is becoming less important by the day, and that’s because of the software and tools we have at our disposal allowing us to work with people. Take for instance, BaseCamp, Trello or Asana; they are all collaborative tools which allow you to share ideas with your team, fix issues, constantly update clients and receive feedback.
9. Project Management Tools
People often mistake this for a typical to-do list, but this is different. A “to-do list” is the list of tasks or activities you intend to get done over the course of a day or short period of time and you tick tasks off as you do them. Projects, on the other hand, tend to take longer to achieve and you can also have more than one at a time. So, to avoid losing track or getting distracted, you need to use project management applications or software. A project management software lets you add all the necessary details to projects, including your objectives and visions, and deadlines. Since most of these apps are available for free trial, it would be a great idea if you planned your business using Zoho Projects, or Teamwork Project.
Activity Attributes Form for Project Management
This document is a planning form that is used to collect the details of an activity. This includes the Description of Work, Location and Imposed Dates.
10. Productivity Tools
One of the perks of being self-employed is the freedom to do your own work, at your own pace. Not having a boss means you are not accountable to anyone but yourself which, in the long run, can also make you procrastinate a lot and in the end, leave things undone.
To ensure your work gets done you need to eliminate as many distractions as you can and stay focused. To do this, you don’t have to rely on willpower and self-discipline alone—both of which are exhaustible—there are apps designed to help you minimize distractions while you work. For example, E.ggtimer.com is a timing app that helps you focus on work and also take a compulsory intermittent break for a predetermined short amount of time to increase focus and overall productivity. Another app, StayFocusd, helps you block unproductive or non-work-related websites while you work.
11. Cloud-based Storage Services
The world is fast moving towards cloud storage, and there is no reason why small businesses should be left out. There are unlimited benefits of cloud storage; you can access your files from anywhere and have some sense of relief and security knowing your work is safe no matter what. A hardware failure or system crash is something you can never rule out so, when it does happen you want to be sure your files are safe. Dropbox and GoogleDrive both deliver well, and they also give you some free space on their server.
12. Online Payment Solutions
For obvious reasons, most people resent carrying a lot of cash with them; they prefer paying with cards or using other payment solutions, and since the internet has made it possible for people to pay for products and services online, your business should not be setup to deliver impeccable services alone- you must ensure transaction is as seamless as possible. Now, there are countless businesses that offer online payment solutions and it is important to choose one that better suits your business like PayPal, Autorize.net, and WePay.
13. Accounting Software
The financial side of every business should never be taken with levity; you earn and spend so, it is imperative to track how much you’re making as well as track how much you’re spending. Starting Business can offer great accounting and audit services to you.
14. Social Media
Initially, the concept of social media was to connect people, socialize and was sometimes even considered as a time waster, but things have changed now; it is seen as one of the most important marketing tools for businesses. Having a social media account and having a strong online presence helps you connect with people, reach and engage with your customers, and just like a website, attract new clients. For instance, one good way to send traffic and maybe potential clients or customers to your website is through Facebook or Twitter ads designed to pop to those who may be interested in your product.
Social Media Consultant Agreement
An agreement used between the client and the consultant whereby the consultant agrees to perform social media consulting services on the client's behalf.