Starting a Business From Home: How to Find Success

Note: This post was written in collaboration with Amy Collett, a personal branding strategist and author of You, Exemplified: The Role of Personal Branding in Your Professional Life.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Are you thinking about starting up a small business from your home? Home-based businesses are a great way for busy people to take more control of their careers , but starting your own business can be intimidating.

No matter what business you’re planning on starting, you have numerous factors to consider: the economy, how that industry is performing, start-up costs, overhead, payroll and so on.

Fortunately, starting a successful home-based business has never been easier. There are free resources online and online support groups for practically any niche. To get started, use these 21 simple tips to start your first (or second or third) business and take charge of your success.

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7 Steps to Successfully Starting a Business From Home

When starting a business from home, there’s a lot that can go wrong. The good news is that there are numerous steps you can take to ensure things start off on the right foot. Let’s look at a simple 7 step plan for enhancing your chances of succeeding in starting a business from home…

1. Set Up a Solid Financial Plan

An image of financial planning in action

 

Before you begin building your business, you will need to come up with a good financial plan. Building a budget should be an essential part of your overall business plan. Without the right planning, you could be subjecting yourself to a lot of unneeded business owner stress.

Factor in start-up costs, daily expenses and taxes into your budget. Depending on the type of business you plan to open, you may need a small business loan to help get you up and running. Term loans, SBA loans, lines of credit and invoice financing are just a few of the options available to small business owners.

2. Develop your Expertise Daily  

Becoming a true expert in any field doesn’t come overnight, it takes months and sometimes even years of consistent study and practice. But don’t get discouraged; keep going. Make it your mission to outlast others who are going to quit!

Gaining the right knowledge is key to developing expertise so be discerning about who and where you get your information from. Look to those who aren’t just saying they are experts but can demonstrate some successful examples or case studies from their expertise.

3. Become a Successful Consultant

Many choose to become a consultant for their first home business adventure. Being a consultant for an established company is a great way for individuals to build career skills while maintaining control over their success. Often, this can be done part-time while you continue a full-time job so you can test the waters to see if you like being a consultant and if you can generate enough income to replace your day job.  However, don’t underestimate the importance of doing everything right. For example, you will need to provide your clients with consulting services agreement so they take you seriously.
Since starting your own business is a risky endeavor, it’s best to try it out with lesser financial risk.
These days, there are tons of companies offering small business opportunities, so find one that suits your interests and talents. You can sell essential oils, teach paint classes or even help people plan their vacations. Working for a company gives you the structure you need to succeed with your first business and may also help provide a steadier stream of income.

4. Carefully Cultivate Your Client List    

An envelope representing a client list that's growing

Whether you want to become a consultant or start a small business team from scratch, you will need clients to help you achieve success. Networking and marketing are vital parts of building a business, so make sure you have a plan to tackle both.

If you are completely new to business, you will need a few networking essentials to shape your client list. These days networking involves attending events and meetings or tapping into social media interactions. Just be sure you do your homework, stay focused and follow up in a timely manner. It’s up to you to build relationships with potential clients, so you have to stay tenacious and ready for opportunities.

5. Set up a Dedicated Workspace  

If you plan on working from home, you will need dedicated workspace to stay productive. Working from your couch or in front of the television is a recipe for distraction and procrastination, so set up a home office space centered on focus and success. Use a corner, closet or room in your home that is free from distractions such as electronics (other than a laptop) and windows. Get an ergonomic office chair or use a standing desk to avoid the health issues associated with sitting for prolonged periods. Finally, use some productivity apps and tools to keep you focused on your business and meeting goals.

Or find a local coworking space if it’s getting old working at your home or coffee shop.

6. Be Patient as You Grow Your Business

Any small business owner will tell you that success does not happen overnight.

It can take years of hard work to begin making real profits. Focus on surviving your first year as a small business owner and then go from there. Be ready for success, but also be prepared for failure which isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, most successful businesses have come from a past failure, so learn from your mistakes.

Be willing to adapt and change as your business needs do and stay focused on keeping yourself healthy, happy and determined.
Starting a home-based business is exciting, but if you’re not prepared, it can also be stressful. By putting together a detailed business plan and setting reasonable goals, you can grow your business, earn profits and make those dreams of being your own boss come true.

7. Consider Your Branding  

An image of mailchimp, McDonald's, Coca Cola, Shell, Pringles, Samsung, and other examples of popular branding

 

Branding is a huge part of success. Think about some of your favorite brands. Most of them likely have a catchy name, colorful visuals, and a compelling tone/voice that instantly identifies who they are and what they do.

Before you begin making any major waves with your business, purchase 10,000 business cards, or register a domain and pay for professional site design, make sure you love your branding. You need to love your name, your colors, your vision—everything.

As a startup, your finances will likely be very thin as is. Paying to have a site redone or cards printed again because you decided to change your business name after a month will set you back even farther.

It’s best to think before you leap!

5 Home Based Business Tax Deductions to Consider

A calculator and pencil on top of calculations representing tax deductions

 

“Taxes are almost too easy,” said nobody ever.

As you progress in life, taxes can become more and more complicated. You factor in a spouse, children, a house and things are already more difficult. The complication of taxes grows tenfold when you run your own business  (this guide on small business accounting may help you out) .

The good news is there are numerous deductions you can claim that will lower your taxes!

Disclaimer: This entire article is not intended to be legal or tax advice; I am not an attorney or accountant. For specific questions about your tax situation and what deductions you can take or other laws pertaining to running your new business, I recommend you should seek proper advice from a professional.

1. Bad Debt Write Off

We’ll get the least exciting deduction out of the way first.

When running a business, having a client stiff you on paying an invoice is inevitable. The bad news is that you can’t get back the time you spent working on any projects for this client. The good news is that if you reported this as income in your gross income for the year, you can write that income off as bad debt when filing your taxes.

2. Cost of Goods or Services Sold

A stretch of road with Cost of Goods Sold painted on it

 

At the end of the tax year, you can deduct the cost of any goods sold or software/tools/subcontractors used in rendering services to clients when filling out your Schedule C.

To take advantage of this great deduction, make sure you’re keeping accurate inventory of your products, or documenting any expenses you have in regards to services rendered: software purchased/used, subcontractors hired, etc.

3. Janitorial and Cleaning Services

Operating a business from your home and staying on top of cleaning can be tough. If you opt for any kind of janitorial services or maid, you can write their cost off as a work expense on your taxes.

If you’re being savvy and cleaning the house yourself, you can still write off any kind of cleaning supplies on your taxes. While this may be a small portion, every little bit can make a difference.

4. Travel Costs

A jar of spare change, a camera, pen, globe and other travel related items

 

Depending on the nature of your business you could be traveling frequently. If so, you can write off several things:

  • Hotel costs: If you pay for any kind of lodging during work-related travel, keep the receipts and make sure you write this off.
  • Rental cars: Did you rent a car for business travel? Keep that receipt, too!
  • Plane tickets: If you had to fly anywhere for work, you can also write that off. Again, keep the receipts.
  • Food: If you ate during travels you can write off 50% of the bill as a work expense. This includes any kind of wining and dining of your clients.

All of the above can quickly add up, so make sure you’re keeping any receipts or tickets for your records.

5. Home Office Space Deduction

Whether you build a dedicated work area or have your station jammed in the corner of the garage, you can write off your workspace come tax time. The deduction is based on a percentage of your mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, etc. If you make any renovations related to your home office, you may be able to write those off too.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t include that new fire pit you installed in the backyard.

9 Best Home Based Business Ideas to Consider

A bunch of post it notes that spell out Work From Home

 

You know you’d like to start a business but you’re not exactly sure what kind? That’s okay! With today’s technology and the affordability of websites, anyone can start a business from home.

Furthermore, we’ve got 9 killer home based business ideas here for you to ponder.

1. Home Based Business Ideas for Moms

There are a number of home based business ideas that are a perfect fit for moms. One of the most popular ones is blogging.

Blogging has virtually no startup cost, save $20 for a domain name and a few dollars per month for hosting. There are numerous courses on blogging for a living, many of them free. On top of that, there are tons of online groups for bloggers, specifically mom bloggers.

The biggest downside to blogging for a living is that it doesn’t pay right away and you need to put in a ton of effort up front. Maintaining a content schedule, mastering outreach and promotions, and building a network are key to building an audience. Eventually you can become profitable through ad revenue, affiliate links, sales from products/services, or even charge for sponsored posts from other businesses.

If you’re looking from some useful blogging tips,  check out  Today With Jay.

2. How to Start a Home Health Care Business

In the home health care business, there are medical and non-medical home care businesses. The non-medical variety is generally easier to break into, as it doesn’t entail medical professionals, medical care, or nursing professionals.

If you go the non-medical route, you need to decide if you want to be part of a home care franchise or go independent. A franchise can help you with training, offer additional support, and give you a business plan at the expense of recurring franchise costs. Running your own independent home health care business results in more freedom and a higher earning potential, with generally higher startup costs.

3. Home Based Business Opportunities with No Startup Cost

There are a number of businesses you can start from home with no cost, but by far one of the most popular and potentially profitable ones is being a writer.

To get started, you can build your portfolio by picking up smaller tasks on sites like FiverrUpwork, or Indeed. As your experience grows you’ll be able to charge more per hour or project. Eventually, you can start your own website selling your services, or even form your own writing firm where you hire other writers.

Once you’re comfortable with your writing abilities, you can begin learning marketing skills online and translate your writing into a content marketing or general marketing writer job. These often pay higher than straightforward technical writing, and can result in you learning additional digital marketing skills on the job.

4. How to Start a Bakery Business from Home

Stacks of cookies and other bakery goods

 

If you have a knack for baking, running a bakery business from home can be a great fit. There are some things to consider before diving in headfirst:

  • Be knowledgeable of allergies: If you’re going to be commercially selling your baked goods, you need to make it clear if you use any common allergens like peanuts or dairy.
  • Know the local and state laws: It’s possible your home may be inspected if you decide to use it as your base for baking. Make sure it’s up to code. In some states or cities, you may need to actually rent out a commercial kitchen or purchase a license.
  • Ensure you have room for supplies: You’ll want to make sure you always have a surplus of ingredients. On top of this, you need a secure place to store them.

If you’re a pro at baking and you can afford the upfront cost of buying tons of ingredients and any equipment or workspace you may need, a home bakery is a great idea.

It’s also a great way to meet people at local trade shows and farmers markets!

5. How to Start a T-Shirt Business at Home

Before the boom of the internet, running a t-shirt printing business required purchasing tons of screening or printing kits and having a massive area to work in. Now all you need are some great designs and a business plan.

To get started with your custom t-shirt business you first need a solid brand or store name. Even if you plan on being totally digital, you need a catchy name that people will easily remember. Next, you need to make sure any designs you use or will use don’t include trademarked or copyrighted materials. Finally, you need to test your designs out. Ask some friends and strangers what they think of your designs and more importantly if they would buy them.

Once you’ve picked some designs to start with, find a site to make and sell your shirts if you want to keep startup costs low. CafePress and Skreened are two popular sites for making shirts. If you want to be completely DIY, you’ll need to look into screening materials and learn how to screen your own shirts.

6. Home Based Clothing Business

Home based clothing businesses come in two forms: DIYers and those working for a franchise. If you’re planning on going the DIY route, you have a similar path as t-shirt designers or home bakers.

For those interested in selling franchised clothing from home, there are a number of great options. Many of these essentially transform you into a salesperson and business owner at once, giving you a website to market and sell from, as well as discounted rates on products. You can then purchase these products and sell them at trade shows, gatherings, or parties thrown. Much like blogging, a big factor in succeeding as a home based clothing business is your ability to network and build your loyal audience.

7. How to Start a Catering Business from Home

Much like a home baking business, a catering business run from home can be a great way to take advantage of your culinary skills.

The biggest hurdle you need to check for first is if your state allows you to cater from home. Some states will require you to work from a commercial kitchen or certified restaurant. In this case, some restaurants may be kind enough to let you rent their kitchen when they’re not using it. (Generally this is after hours, making it difficult for catering.)

The first thing you need to do if you plan on starting a catering business is contact your state or local office to see if you can even cater from home, and if so, what certifications and licenses do you need to have. Once you’ve established this, draft up a business plan and determine what kind of catering you plan on doing: food, food and drinks, cocktail parties only, etc.

8. How to Start a Cleaning Business from Home

A bucket, gloves, toilet scrubber, and other cleaning supplies

 

Cleaning is not for the faint of heart or weak bodied. If you plan on starting a cleaning business from home, first and foremost make sure you’re physically fit to do so.

Once you’re certain you can handle cleaning day in and day out, you’ll want to find your first clients. This part is the hardest, as you’re new to the business. Reassure your clients that you can do a great job, guarantee your work, and most of all, be confident. Confidence is key in any business, especially when you’re starting out.

To help land your first paid clients, you’ll want references. Ask your friends, family members, and old coworkers if you could clean their house for free in return for a referral. Having solid references will go a long way.

9. Home Based Jewelry Business

Home based jewelry businesses are similar to home based clothing lines. If you want to go the DIY route, you can start your jewelry journey by picking up supplies at a local craft store and begin making jewelry. Once you have your first items done, consider setting up an Etsy store, as these are free and easy to manage.

As your audience grows you can think about taking your store off Etsy, avoiding their cut, and building your own ecommerce platform. This comes with its own risks and startup costs, making it a move you shouldn’t consider until down the road. But in the short term, it is best to leverage the large audience of a site like Etsy until you build a following. Ecommerce growth can take time to build up so it’s best to be persistent and patient.

If you want to become a franchised jewelry business, there are numerous companies that assist you in selling from home. Like the clothing businesses, you can often purchase jewelry at a discounted rate and in turn sell it at local markets, gatherings, and so on. These are higher risk than the clothing businesses due to the cost of jewelry, but you can also make a significant amount of money from a single sale.

One tip many jewelry business owners give is to wear your product anytime you can. At the end of the day, even if something doesn’t sell, at least you’ll have a flashy ring or necklace to show for it!

And you never know when someone on the street will ask you where you got the piece of jewelry you are wearing…an open door for a sale…

The Most Important Part of Running a Home-Based Business

An image of a body of water and Get Motivated Stay Motivated

 

The hardest part of running any business from home is maintaining your momentum. The beginning will be tough, as you’ll likely be out some startup capital with nothing to show for it. Even as things begin to take off, you’ll have your doubts, you’ll be exhausted, and you’ll question everything.

The most important thing you can do is to keep on going. When your mind tells you to give up, look at where you were a month or two ago, and look at where you are now. The needle has likely moved a bit, and if it hasn’t, ask yourself what you can do next.

It’s also important that you celebrate your victories, especially the small ones. You typically won’t have as many wins in the beginning, so holding onto those little wins is key to staying motivated. Tell your friends and family about your victories and let them celebrate with you. If you’re feeling like giving up, remind yourself of that last victory and how great it was.

You can do this. Millions of people around the world are making the decision to start their own business. Let the next success story someone reads about be yours.

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Hi, I’m Miles Anthony Smith, founder of Why Stuff Sucks™, a lead generation/nurturing focused digital marketing agency.

I live for the business results we get for our clients, and love coaching others to level up their digital marketing and leadership skills. Cheers!