For a variety of reasons, lockdown has inspired many people to consider starting their own home-based business. Starting a new business is certainly an exciting time, but if you’ve never run your own business before there are some things you need to know. Here are a few tips to get you started and help make your new venture a success.
- Set up a Designated Workspace
While you might be accustomed to using your laptop on the sofa or at the kitchen table, once you decide to start a proper business it’s a good idea to set up a designated workspace in your home. Even if you’re tight on space or budget, you don’t need much to get started.
Start with a quiet place, ideally a room with a door so you can close yourself off from household noises when you’re trying to concentrate. Add a good table lamp, a comfortable chair and, if you’ll be spending a lot of time at the computer, consider investing in a larger monitor or a second monitor.
Be sure you are protected against a home emergency getting in the way of your business dreams with a boiler & heating cover service plan. Our network of highly-skilled tradesmen and Gas-Safe engineers can keep your heating and hot water running smoothly so you can concentrate on growing your new business.
- Create a Business Plan
Business plans aren’t just for people seeking a business loan. Creating a business plan will help you form a strategy and give you a roadmap to follow. Even if your business plan is for your eyes only, writing one can help you identify weaknesses, think of new ideas, avoid potential problems and ultimately improve your odds of success.
A business plan should include a discussion of your business concept and the problem you’re solving (e.g., a lack of organic, non-toxic, hypoallergenic dog toys in the market) as well as research into your target market, business model, marketing and sales strategy, competition and projected financials.
- Get Insured
One critical aspect of managing a new venture is setting up the right business insurance. Businesses of all types face certain risks, and the right cover can protect both you and your business should something go wrong–from injury of a customer or employee to theft of your stock.
The most common type of business insurance is public liability cover, which protects you against claims by customers, vendors and other third parties if they’re injured or their property is damaged. Public liability insurance costs around £65 a year for a typical sole trader small business, making it worthwhile if you interact with the public in any way (e.g., face-to-face).
In addition, there are other types of business insurance to consider as well. For example, if you make or sell a product you might want product liability insurance. If you employ anyone you’ll probably be required by law to buy employers’ liability insurance. If you sell your advice (e.g., you’re a designer or consultant) you should learn about professional indemnity cover. There are many other types of insurance available, too, from covering theft of business equipment to personal accidents.
And if you use your personal car as part of your business, say to visit clients or make deliveries, then you’ll need to make changes to your car insurance policy. If you don’t have the right business use or commercial cover, your car insurance policy could be deemed invalid leaving you uninsured.
Finally, anyone starting a home business needs to tell their home insurance company about their plans. If you don’t, your insurance could be invalid. Your premiums may increase once you include business use, but this will depend on the type of work you do at home. If you only do office work your premium won’t increase much, but if clients visit you at home (e.g., you’re a dog sitter, child minder or tutor) this is considered a higher risk.
- Make Sure You’re Legal
Before starting a business, make sure that you’re meeting legal requirements, from registering your business to learning about company accounts and business taxes. Gov.uk has some great resources available to help with this.
- Set Your Business Hours
While a key benefit of working from home is the ability to set your own hours and work around other priorities such as childcare, many entrepreneurs find that the lack of formal work hours means their job takes over their lives. When you’re working from home it’s easy to work too much, especially if you’re starting your own business.
However, working days, nights and weekends can be detrimental to your health, productivity and creativity. Draw up a work schedule and post it in your workspace to help you keep tabs on your hours. You can even set alarms on your phone to alert you when it’s time to quit for the day.