Did you know that almost half of all businesses in the UK are home-based?While home-based businesses have always been around, the COVID-19 pandemic really kicked off the popularity of home-based businesses and proved that there are many ways to start a business from home. With so many people out of work, or looking for additional streams of income, we saw hundreds of home-based businesses popping up over the past year. Budding entrepreneurs have truly shown their innovation, creativity and resourcefulness. Starting a home-based business is easier than ever before as there are multiple online tools and resources available to you to aid you in the success of your business. The time is now!
What home-based business should I start?There should be two factors that you take into consideration when starting a home-based business: what you’re good at and what people want to spend money on. When starting a home-based business it would be unwise to go into an industry that you have zero knowledge about. While you may be able to learn along the way, you’d be likely to make many rookie errors and mistakes. Rather ask yourself where your skills lie and what you are good at and go from there. Any degrees, qualifications, experience, and interests that you have may point you in the right direction. For instance, if you have studied graphic design, you could freelance as a graphic designer from home, or if you know that you’re an excellent baker you could bake cakes at home and deliver them to customers. The next thing you need to consider is demand. Are people going to want to purchase what your home business has to offer? In order to answer this question you may want to do some market research. You could create an online survey and ask your friends and family to share it on social media. There is no point in offering a product or service that no one wants, and most people have a lot less spending power due to the pandemic, so ensure what you have to offer fills a gap in the market.
How to run a small business from home successfully?
- Ensure that you’re above board – The HMRC recommends that you register as self-employed as soon as possible. If you’re running a home-based business, you’ll need to either register as a sole trader or a limited company. After this you’ll be responsible for submitting your own Self Assessment, and paying your own tax and NIC. Ensuring that you are above board will legitimise you as a business.
- Come up with a detailed business plan – Every good business begins with a good plan. There are many templates and resources online that will assist you in coming up with a cohesive business plan that you can refer to, share with investors etc.
- Dedicate a certain amount of time to your business each day – The only way that your home-based business will become successful is if you are self-disciplined and self-motivated enough to put the necessary effort into it.
- Establish a brand identity – Brand identities are very important as customers are looking at buying from a brand that they can relate to. You should define your target audience and come up with a logo, slogan and colour palette that would appeal to your ideal audience. While there are many online tools that help you create your own logo, getting a professional graphic designer to create your logo and other design elements would be the right choice if you want to portray a professional brand identity.
- Market your business effectively – Once you have a set idea on your product or service and have created a business plan, you need to start marketing your business. As a home-based business, one of the best things you can invest in for the success of your business is online marketing. You’ll definitely need to create profiles on multiple social media platforms for your business, and a website may also be necessary. Social media marketing and Google ads are affordable and highly effective ways to get your name out there.
- Have capital – While there are many home-based business ideas that require very little in terms of start-up costs, it is always helpful to have at least some capital to help you set up your business so that you are not lacking when it comes to equipment, supplies and marketing.
- Seek help if you need help – Many people running home-based businesses attempt to do everything by themselves. But if you don’t have enough time or skills to do everything yourself, you may want to seek assistance by employing someone part-time.
- Keep track of your expenses – A very important piece of advice would be to keep your business expenses separate from your home/personal expenses. You’ll need to keep a detailed report of all sales, transactions, income and expenses, which you will use when submitting your Self Assessment to the HMRC. There are many great programs which you can download that will assist you with accurately keeping track of your expenses.
- Become business savvy – If you’re new to entrepreneurship you may not naturally take to the world of business. Keep yourself informed by watching TED talks and consuming information about running a business so that you can remain one step ahead of the competition.
How to run a business without an office?These days, having an office is not as important as it once was. Clients and investors who want to meet up with you are usually more than happy to do so in a coffee shop or other public space. If you need to run a meeting, there are many venue hire options available to you. Setting up an effective office space at home is imperative to the success of your business. As most of your sales and marketing will be done online, it’s a good idea that you ensure that you have a reliable internet connection so that you can reply to emails, process requests and create social media posts for your home-based business. It’s also a good idea to create a home office space in a space in your home which is quiet and you won’t be constantly interrupted by kids or pets. Having a nice, neat desk setup will allow you to think straight and get your work done in an efficient manner. Having this separate space , even if it’s simply a desk in your bedroom, will help you separate ‘home life’ from ‘work life’. Defining this difference should also filter into your schedule. You should have defined office hours just as you would in a usual office as this will help you maintain a healthy work/ life balance. Depending on the type of business that you plan on running from home, you may need very specific equipment in order to run your business efficiently. Investing in this equipment from the get-go will help make your business run a lot smoother. For instance, if you need to print out certain documents for your business, investing in a printer would be advantageous and would save you from having to go to the post office or printing shop to get things printed. You’ll need to list a contact number for your business on your social media pages and website. It is advisable that you get a separate cell phone or landline for your business, so that you are not taking work calls on your personal number.
10 Home-based business ideasNeed a little inspiration when it comes to home-based business ideas? Considering the current marketplace, and the facilities available in the average home, here are some home-based business ideas that could definitely work for you depending on your skillset. There is truly something for everyone.
Handmade productsCreating handmade items such as clay vessels, crochet blankets etc and selling them on platforms such as Etsy is a great way to start a home-based business, especially if you have a creative flair. More and more consumers want to purchase unique, handmade products instead of mass produced items.
Teach English onlineIf you’ve done a course such as TEFL, there are many opportunities for you to teach English online, which can be incredibly lucrative if you find the right company to teach for. In certain cases this may also exempt you from having to register as self-employed.
Work as a freelance copywriterWith the online marketing industry booming, good copywriters are in high demand. Begin searching for clients and marketing your services online, and ensure that you have a good copywriting portfolio to show off.
Grow and sell plantsOver lockdown, indoor plants have become incredibly popular, and some go for quite steep prices. If you consider yourself to have a green thumb and a passion for plants, growing and selling plants in your area could be a great opportunity for you.
Start a dropshipping companyImporting large amounts of items and selling them in an online store is a great way to make money from a home-based business and it is a relatively simple business model. All you need to do is choose the right products and market them at the right place and in an effective manner. Finding the right courier service will also aid in your success.
Beauty serviceAre you a qualified beautician or masseuse? Do you have a room in your home that you could dedicate to your practice? Many beauticians, massage therapists, hairdressers and nail technicians operate from the comfort of their homes.
Print businessIf you invest in the right printing equipment you could easily start a print business that prints various items such as business cards, T-shirts etc. As the equipment doesn’t take up a huge amount of space, it could be perfect for a home-based business.
Monetise an audienceIf you have a large social media following, you could easily monetise your audience. Focus on continuously growing your audience, partaking in brand deals and ensuring that you’re active on a variety of different platforms.
Baking or cooking businessAre you a whizz in the kitchen? Baked goods and ready meals businesses will always have a place in the home-based business industry. At the end of the day, people need to eat. Ensure that your baking/cooking business is designed to fulfill a particular niche such as vegan, party food, weight loss etc.
Subscription box businessSubscription boxes have become incredibly popular over the past few years. By curating specialised subscription boxes aimed at a niche market, you could tap into a fun and exciting business model that you can adapt to suit current trends.
Are you ready to start a home-based business?Remember that starting a home-based business does not guarantee an income straight away. Ensure that you are in the right financial situation before starting a home-based business. Aso realise that being a business owner has a lot of responsibilities. You’ll need to keep track of your income and expenses, pay your tax and NIC, and look into what insurance options are right for you. You also won’t have most of the benefits available to you that are available to the employed, such as maternity leave, sick leave etc. Basically, if you don’t work, you don’t make money. You also want to ensure that your home environment allows for the running of a business, and is not too noisy or disruptive. Do you have a dedicated office space? Do you have to share your room/ house with multiple other people? Are they okay with you running your business from home? Many home-based businesses can be done part time and do not require you to leave your current job. That being said, starting a home-based business can be a wonderful journey that allows you to pursue a passion, work your own hours, spend more time with your family, and bring in a decent income. When deciding whether you’re ready to start a home-based business ensure that you have a solid business idea and a practical action plan in place to make sure that you reach your business goals.
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