Home-based businesses have grown in popularity in recent years as more and more people try to strike a more reasonable work-life balance. Internet businesses run from home are particularly popular, offering a chance for first-time entrepreneurs to test their skills without a significant lump sum investment.
Is your business suited to home working?
Industries with low levels of face-to-face client interaction suit home-based businesses well. Sales, editing, copywriting, web design and research-based professions are all common choices for home-based entrepreneurs. Industries with client interactions are not excluded from home-based businesses although you’ll need to ensure you have adequate provisions for entertaining clients in a professional manner.
Is your home suitable?
Larger properties are best suited to home-based businesses as you’re then able to maintain separate working quarters, helpful in maintaining a good work-life balance. Ideally a separate room where you can organise all your paperwork and close the door should be used as this allows you to get stuck into work without domestic distractions getting in the way. Homes that are within easy reach of major transport routes are also good for home-based businesses as clients will not struggle to find you. On-site parking is an advantage, as is a quieter neighbourhood where you’re less likely to be disturbed when working or entertaining clients.
Liaising with family
If you live with your family, or share your property with others, it’s important to set ground rules when setting up a home-based business. You’ll need to discuss how they will act if you have clients over, whether you can be disturbed during work hours and how much of the house you’ll need to dedicate to business. Raising these issues now, and reaching a mutually agreeable compromise, will help your business get off the ground smoothly.
Buying the necessary equipment
You’ll need to consider what equipment you need before you set up a home office, particularly if you’ll entertain clients. Until now you may have chosen furniture and equipment for functionality but it won’t always look professional. Investing in a decent desk and chairs, and perhaps giving your office a fresh coat of paint, will help to create the right atmosphere and get you in the mindset for hard work. Work out what computer equipment you’ll need too; investing in a laptop could be worthwhile if you’ll be meeting clients outside your home. Set aside a budget and ensure you cover all bases; you’d be surprised at what you might need including filing systems, printer and copy facilities and a fast broadband connection (perhaps a business account if your usage will be heavy).
Holding client meetings in your home
As your business becomes more successful you’re more than likely going to be need to entertain clients at home. Most clients are generally understanding of the difficulties in running a commercial operation from home so you shouldn’t worry too much. However, it’s important to maintain a professional atmosphere and minimise distractions to keep the topic on business. Make sure everyone in the house knows you have a client meeting that day and tidy up your business area in preparation. Read our full guide to holding client meetings in your home for more information.
Insurance for home-based businesses
Home-based businesses will require public liability insurance to provide cover in the event of injury or damage to third parties. This should cover you when holding meetings at your home and when visiting clients but be sure to check your policy’s underwriting before you sign. Your normal contents cover may not apply to business equipment so don’t rely on it until you’ve spoken to your insurer. If you hire any staff you’ll legally need employer’s liability insurance. You may also wish to take out business interruption insurance, which will provide financial support should a temporary issue prevent your company from trading.