Saturday, May 17, 2014

What are the Basics of Starting a Business at Home?

Starting a home-based business is one of those things that just about everyone dreams about at one time or another. It usually starts small, and then as we contemplate further, we begin to realize just how difficult it really is. It may get so big, in fact, that you may lay aside the dream all together! Starting a business is expensive, time consuming, and all together a drain on your emotional well-being as well as your family life. So why is it that so many people aspire to be self-employed? If you listen to people who have spent their lives working for themselves, they’ll tell you that there’s no easy road to get you there, but at the same time, they’ll also say that there’s no way they’d go back to working for someone else ever again.

To begin with, it takes a certain type of personality to start a business. You have to be grounded in reality, but able to think creatively, and you have to be able to see the good in every bad situation. All your stock burned up in a fire? Earthquake swallowed up your startup? You better be the type to get up and go, because regardless of how good you plan, you’re going to be hit with setback after setback until you just want to throw up your hands and quit. You want to know the secret, though? The one tried-and-true answer to everyone who’s ever made it big? They all wanted to quit at one time or another. All of them. Maybe they didn’t say it out loud, and maybe it isn’t in their biography, but if they really told the truth, human nature nibbled at them now and then, and they thought about packing it all in.

Let’s say you’re not looking to start the next Apple or Starbucks, but rather are just looking for a way to make ends meet in such a way that you don’t have to answer to a boss all day. That’s surprisingly doable, if you set your mind to it. There are plenty of folks today who make good, albeit modest livings doing a variety of things, from a neighborhood home handyman to the nice ladies manning the booth at the last craft bazar that you were at, and they all had to start somewhere.

Getting started is as easy as realizing that you have to start from a position that you’re comfortable with. Start small, with just a few jobs here and there- maybe a craft fair or two over the summer, and see how things play out. rather than just jumping in whole hog. You’re not going to be able to replace your income instantly, so why take the chance of going bankrupt before you get your feet off the ground?

Don’t overlook the power of a good business plan. Make a plan first, detailing where you’re at, and where you’d like to be ten years from now. Provide some accounting for how much you have to invest in the business and how much time you can lay aside for it. It’s probably nowhere near the time and money that you want, but it’s still a start. Next, think about what the ongoing cost of operations will be. If you’re going to sell a product or service, this is where your basic capital is going to come from for your ongoing operations. Go ahead and be optimistic, but don’t go crazy. If you think you’ll only sell one per week to start, start there. 

Build your reputation next. It’s amazing how many people overlook their reputation as a business startup, when in fact it is probably the single most important aspect of ensuring that your business is successful. If you’re doing work for neighbors, don’t do good work, do great work, and the people you work for will pass your name off to others. If you make craft fair goods, put your heart and soul into them, making them as you would for your own family. That way, your high-quality merchandise will find its way into the hands of others, and your business card might just change hands as well! 

In the next post, we’ll go over some of the practical necessities of starting a business, such as dealing with taxes and regulatory necessities, and ensuring that your business is on the up-and-up! 

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