How to Start a Business from Home

This river takes many turns but is always flowing in one direction. Cash, like the river, is complicated.

Starting a home-based business doesn’t need to be complicated. The important part is getting started! Building a business from your home lets you start small and devote as much energy as you want to your business.

Some Great Home Business Ideas to Help You Get Started

1. Bookkeeping

Bookkeepers log, balance and maintain the smooth flow of transactions for businesses. Their roles may extend to chasing late payments, drawing up reports for the business, issuing invoices and administering payroll.

The good news is you don’t need formal qualifications to become a bookkeeper.

There are qualifications that will both improve your technical expertise and help you win clients as a bookkeeper, but experience is often the most sought-after quality. So if bookkeeping is a totally new career for you, start by doing some free bookkeeping work for local organisations or charities.

Many bookkeepers use accounting packages like Xero, Quickbooks or Sage to increase their efficiency and the ease of tracking their work. Being familiar with these packages won’t just help you do your job, it may be a sought-after skill-set for some employers.

You will need to register with an anti-money laundering supervisory body. One way to do this, as well as getting a certification of your own, is through joining the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers.

Finally, you will need insurance in place to get started as a bookkeeper. Professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance are necessities for your business.

2. Catering

Making food, simple right? HMM. Well, there’s a lot more to it – but for the right person, this could be a dream business. To succeed in the catering business you need passion, dedication and both culinary and organisational skills. With the ease of ordering online, it’s never been easier to reach a wide audience for your catering business.

Food is a more sensitive area than you might think – and though the rules and regulations must be adhered to they are all common-sense rules that you are likely already planning on abiding by. I go into these in depth in this guide on selling homemade food, but here are some things you’ll definitely need to get sorted:

Proper training: It’s a legal requirement that anyone operating with food must have proper training, instruction and supervision in food hygiene. You don’t need a certificate for this – but it’s good practice.

Register premises: You need to register your premises with local authority at least 28 days prior to opening and probably pay business rates on these premises.

Insurances: In common with many businesses will need both public liability insurance and employer’s liability insurance.

For more information, the Food Standards Agency should be your first port of call.

3. Consulting

As a consultant you will be selling your expertise in a specific field, your time and sometimes your presentation and management skills. The most important thing is that you have that expertise! Beyond this, the requirements for starting a consulting business will vary wildly from industry to industry. Financial consultants and advisors, for example, need a qualification in financial advice form the Financial Conduct Authority.

You’ll also need to decide how to set your fees. Will they be hourly, project-based quotes or as a retainer for your services.

4. Personal Trainer

If you have an interest in health and fitness personal training can be a great extension of your existing knowledge and lifestyle. You’ll act as a coach and trainer for hundreds of clients who will reap huge rewards from your training – but you’ll need passion, energy, patience and extensive knowledge. Have a look at starting a personal training business.

There is no standard certification for becoming a fitness trainer, but like you wouldn’t hire a lawyer without a qualification, few personal trainers get by without some kind of professional qualification or course completion.

5. Cleaner

There’s more to a cleaning business than meets the eye – you need to specialise, know your clientele and build a reputation. Trustworthiness is key.

There are no qualifications you need to start a cleaning business, but there are a few other ways to get a head start, like joining a franchise instead of going it alone.

If you want to find out more you can read a guide to starting a cleaning business.

Do Some Quick Market Research

It’s often said that “no plan survives contact with the enemy” – well in your case “no business idea survives contact with the customer”. If you haven’t got a solid idea of what your customers want, the prices they are willing to pay and their willingness to engage with your brand and marketing then you’ll have a tough time starting your business.

Planning is an indispensable part of running a business, and research is an indispensable part of planning.

Investigate both your potential customers’ buying behaviours and your competitors’ attempts to woo them.

Plan Your Business Out

A good financial plan should be the bedrock of your business plan. Unless you’re seeking funding, you may think you don’t need to bother with all that stuff – business plans, financial forecasts, executive summaries… that’s not the stuff of a home-business is it?

Well, you don’t need to get it printed on fancy watermarked paper, but it’s worth getting your plans down on paper (digital or otherwise) – for your own sake. Right now, at the start, in the planning stage, your business is at its most vulnerable. If you don’t make plans for how it will work, how you will cover its costs and what to do in worst case scenarios, you could be left with a very bad experience. But how do you a plan a business if you don’t know what’s going to happen with it?

You could also try out our tool Brixx to help you test if your business idea will work and plan your finances.

Bear in mind though, you’ll not only need to plan out the financial side of your business but the operational side as well. When setting up a business you must choose what kind of business it will be – will it be a limited company, a partnership, or will you be a sole trader? The tax and financial responsibility implications of this decision could have a big impact on the way you do business, so it’s worth doing some research into what suits your business the best.
Plan Your Cash Flow

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Test the Business Plan by Finding Some Work / Clients

It’s a great idea to test the waters with a new business idea to learn what works and what doesn’t. You don’t want to make heavy investments of time and energy where it’s not needed – and likewise you need to know which parts of your business need improvement before you go to the mass market and start trying to attract a large number of customers.

You need to get an understanding of who your target market is, and what this customer base wants from your product or service. What can set your business apart from the competition? The great thing about this initial stage is that you can literally ask people this very question – and change your business according to the answers.

Here are some of the avenues you should pursue to find some work to get you started:

  • Social media
  • Networking
  • Existing network of colleagues
  • Friends and family
  • Local ads
  • Online ads

In conclusion, to grow your business from an idea to a reality you will have to be ready to be challenged. Iterate on your ideas, work hard, persevere through setbacks but know when to start over and repeat your successes. Building a business doesn’t happen overnight – it’s organic, it takes time. But the rewards can be worth it.

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