5-Point Checklist for Small Home Businesses
If you’re reading this sitting in an office somewhere, prepare to be jealous!
Cause I’ve been sitting here in my sweatpants and a tee with some classic rock n’ roll playing off my speakers, taking 5-minute breaks every hour or so to play with my dog, I’ve got dinner baking in the oven (I’m having lasagna tonight) and I’ve gone through half a six-pack in the last 4 hours, all this while doing my day job!
Since I’m feeling mentally saturated, I thought I’d take some time off to write this blog post. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I work from home.
I have a small business where I do custom logo designs, print-ad campaigns, and other similar artwork based on the computer. So your letterheads, business cards, menu’s for restaurants, wedding invitations, I do it all.
Believe me; working from home is one of the most liberating steps I have ever taken in terms of career choices, and I’m much happier for it.
No more sitting idle in the office regardless of the amount of work you have on your plate, no more rigidity and structure in terms of work timings – I prefer working at nights when everything around me is quiet as it helps me concentrate and I can do that now.
There’s also no rat race, I’m not trying to outperform my colleagues, I’m not trying to please my boss, I rely on my own judgment and don’t have to succumb to the wishes of someone else.
I also make all the money—3 times the money I used to doing the same amount of work as there’s no office to act as middleman, it’s just the client and me.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing though, and I’ve learned how to handle a small business the hard way.
The beginning in particular was quite challenging, and today I’m going to give you 5 tips so that your approach to starting a small business can be simpler. It may not be easy, but it’ll be straightforward, and that’s a great place to begin.
Understand how much your small business will cost you per month. For example, I use more electricity, have to upgrade to the latest graphics software such as CorelDraw and Photoshop, and need the compliant hardware to support this software and instant rendering of images that have crazy resolutions.
I also had to buy a laser printer so that I could give my clients an accurate idea of what their final design would look like.
So factor in the costs of ink, paper and electricity for the printer as well. Along with that I need a quick Wi-Fi connection so that I can send across my designs easily, and as mentioned earlier the files can be really big.
Similarly, make a list of what you will spend on and put say 20% over and above this cost aside for your business.
Make sure you’ve saved up enough to at least cover half a year of living expenses over and above whatever you’ve calculated in the budgeting step, because that is the time frame you’re looking at to turn a realistic profit from a home business .
Also, if you need to take loans to subsidize these expenses then do it, but don’t jump the gun and take only as much as you’ll need.
Get a life insurance, a basic business owner’s insurance, a general liability insurance and a sufficient home insurance policy with a rider covering home-business, as your house now doubles up as your office too.
Make sure you approach a reliable name in the insurance industry, I use The Hartford (their claims service is one of the best), and you should also go for a big brand such as The Hartford, State Farm or ING, the reason I say this because even though less reputable companies might (and this isn’t a given by any means) offer you a cheaper policy, it won’t provide comprehensive coverage and will leave you vulnerable, this isn’t a strong position to start a business in.
Having had a good number of years of experience as an insurance agent, I’ve seen a lot of things (good and bad) so I can’t emphasize how important it is to cover your risks.
Dedicate a section of your house to working, and maintain some semblance of professionalism there. By this I mean get rid of the beer bottles and tidy up before your client comes, have grown-up furniture for you and your client to use, and just keep it respectable in general.
If you believe your impressive collection of Star Wars memorabilia for example should be showed off to the client, put it up in your house in a spot that clients have to cross to reach your office space, but leave it out of the office.
Networking – online and offline
The best way to get your business rolling is to get the word out there. Start spreading the word before you’ve even begun so that people know that it’s in the pipeline.
Tell friends, family, and even your soon to be ex-boss, as mine sent clients he couldn’t handle or that he deemed to small my way all the time. Use the tools of social media to further your cause as well; in this day and age an online presence is a must. I got so many clients because they found my website and loved my previous designs and/or saw the referrals ex-clients had given me.
I wish someone had given me these tips when I was starting out, and I’m certain they will help you along the way to fulfilling your career related dreams.
As long as you believe in yourself and work hard, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a lucrative business while working from the convenience of your home.
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net