We recently shared our tips for how to start your own Etsy business. Whether you are starting with Etsy or with your own self promoted home based business, we want to help you succeed. Here are our top five tips for running a business from home.
Top 5 Tips For Running a Business from Home
Develop a Business Plan and Stick to It
Every business needs to have goals, both to keep you motivated and to help you measure progress. Before you even begin running a business from home you should figure out your profit angle. This means doing market research and pricing your materials to determine what your product is worth and what kind of profit you can make from it. For example, let’s say that you sell quilts and you have determined you can sell them for $400 apiece. You will use that information to figure out how much profit you can make after you subtract your materials expenses, and then determine how many quilts you need to sell to financially maintain your business.>Next you will need to develop a business plan, and there is plenty of free information available online to help you with this step. Sites like Bplans offer sample business plans for craft businesses. Bright Hub shares a step by step sample of a craft business plan that you can view to get a better idea of what to include in your own plan. The main components of most business plans are: an executive summary, a mission statement, a description of the products or services offered, a marketing plan, and financial information. Once your plan is completed you will have a road map for your business, as well as a way to measure progress towards your home based business goals.
Image via Tyler Franta/Unsplash
Know the Law
Laws vary from state to state and country to country, so before you start running a business from home be sure to make sure that you are in compliance with local codes and regulations. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a good starting point to learn about laws as they pertain to your home based business. Some of the basic ordinances you will likely need to be aware of when opening a home business are:
- General business license. Check with your city or county office to see if you need to file legal paperwork to register as a business.
- Sales tax permit. If you sell goods or services you may be required to collect sales tax. Learn more about these requirements in Sales Tax 101 from the SBA.
- Health permits. You may need health permits, especially if you are selling baked goods. Check with your local officials to get more details.
On top of these licenses and permits, you will need to be aware of tax laws, both at the local and federal level. The IRS has several resources on their site to help you.
Set a Schedule
One of the benefits of owning a home based business is the great deal of flexibility it affords. You can work at your own pace instead of the one dictated to you by an employer. Even with this flexibility, you will need to set a schedule, and there are several reasons for this. It is easy to become distracted, side tracked, or spend too much time on a task when you do not have someone there to redirect you. A schedule will help you manage your time and keep you on track each day.
When you have a job outside the home, it is easy to leave work at work. These lines become blurred when you work from home. For your sanity, as well as your family’s well being, have a start and end time for your work day. Determine how many hours you will work per day, what those hours are, and stick to them. The flexibility of a home based business means that your schedule and hours don’t have to mimic those of a traditional business. You can work a few hours in the morning, then resume your work late in the evening. Determine what works best for your needs as well as your client’s needs, and develop a schedule, print it out, and place it where everyone can see it. Remember to clock out when you are done each day, too!
Stay Connected and Organized Using Technology
Technology has made it easy for home based business owners to stay connected and organized wherever they are. Use checklists to create daily to do lists that will serve as a visual reminder of what needs to be completed. Outlook, Asana, and several other apps and software make it easy to create (and share) checklists. The benefit of centralized lists is that you can access them wherever you are. Maintaining a schedule with checklists on your main computer at home won’t help you when you are meeting with a customer outside your home! You will want to take advantage of programs that can be accessed with your smart phone or tablet, too.
Technology will help you stay organized when it comes to tax season, too! Be sure to invest in and use a comprehensive tax program from the first days of your business, otherwise you all be hunting for receipts and numbers later. One popular method used by home business owners is QuickBooks, which can help you track mileage, send invoices, and track expenses, among other things.
Running a business from home often means working alone. This can be challenging, especially if you thrive on being around others. Networking with other home based business owners will help in many different ways. Surrounding yourself with people who do the same type of work you do helps build a support network within your field. You can share ideas and learn from each other as you grow your business.
There are several former and informal settings for networking within your niche. Informally, interact with other home based business owners online via Facebook groups and Etsy Social Network. Formally, find local professional organizations that you can join. Make an effort to attend their events so you can meet people in your industry. Not only will this provide social energy that is lacking in working from home alone, but it will help you promote your brand and connect with people in your field.
Starting your own home based business is exciting, but requires dedication and hard work. The five suggestions we have provided will help you start this journey on the right foot.