How to start a business from home

By Lizzie Davey

21 Feb 2020

How to start a business from home

Working from home is the dream for a lot of people.

Having your own business gives you the freedom to create your own schedule and engineer your own earnings potential.

So, if this sounds like something you’d enjoy and you’ve had an idea simmering away in the back of your mind for a while, now’s the time to give it some space to flourish.

Use these tips to get your home business up and running in no time at all.

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Come up with your business idea

You’ll obviously need a business idea that’s viable if you want to work from home.

Often, this will be something that you’re already doing but want to turn a profit on, or something that you’ve been interested in for a while. For example, if you create handmade cards in your spare time, the next logical step is to set up an online store where you can sell them to a wider audience.

If you haven’t already got an idea but still fancy working from home, you can combine your skills with your interests and passions. There is an endless selection of work-from-home jobs you can start, including freelancing, painting, bookkeeping, coaching, personal training, running an online store, and more.

Choose something that gets you excited and that you’re sure you can see a future in.

Consider your target market and research your competitors

Think about who you’re going to be selling to. Defining who these people are makes it far easier to market your product in the right places and ensure you’re selling a product or service that’s needed.

List out the demographics of your target audience, but also dig deeper into their biggest challenges in life, their wants and needs, and why they might need a product or service like yours in their life.

It’s also important to know where your business sits in the wider industry. This is why you should research your competitors. Explore what they’re doing right, what they could be doing better, and identify any gaps you can fill.

Consider your sales platform

The platform you choose to sell your product or service from will depend on what exactly it is you’re selling.

For example, if you make handcrafted home accessories, somewhere like Etsy is a safe bet, but if you’re buying and selling antiques, eBay might be better. If you’re freelancing, you might consider a website or a site that allows freelancers to sign up and pitch for work.

It’s highly likely you’ll want to create a website and social media channels for your new business too. This doesn’t have to be a costly or time-consuming activity if you follow the steps in this piece.

Test your new business idea to see if it’s viable

Don’t quit your day job just yet. You want to see if your business is actually viable first - that is, you want to see if people will actually hand over money in exchange for what you’re offering.

At this point, you can offer a beta version of your services or upload your products to a selling platform to see if anyone shows an interest in them.

This is also the perfect time to figure out if your business idea has the potential to be profitable enough. Here, you should work out how much it costs to create your product or service and then consider how much you’ll need to sell each month to cover your expenses and make a good income.

Register as a business and open a separate bank account

Once you’ve made sure your product is viable and have done all your initial research, it’s time to make things official.

This means registering with HMRC as self-employed or as a business so you can file your taxes each year. It’s a wise idea to open a separate business bank account too, so you can track your earnings and outgoings (this also makes doing taxes less of a headache).

If you’re planning on going all in, it can help to use accounting software from the start to help you track what you’re spending and to tally up how much money you’re bringing in.

Business practicalities

Now you’re officially set up, it’s time to sort out the practicalities:

Business address: if you don’t want to use your home address to register your business to, you can use a virtual office to give it a more professional feel. You can get other benefits from virtual offices, too, like access to meeting spaces if you regularly need to hold meetings with stakeholders or customers.

Health and safety precautions: this is particularly important if you intend to prepare food from home, if customers visit your house, or if you employ someone.

Business insurance: you might need insurance depending on the type of business you’re running. If you’re offering professional services (i.e. are a copywriter or an accountant, for example) then professional indemnity insurance is a good idea. If you plan on employing anyone, then it’s necessary to have employer liability insurance. Take a look at our article on business insurance to figure out what kind of insurance you’ll need.

Business expenses: when working from home, you may be able to claim costs for things such as rent, electricity and heating. If you’re self-employed, you can claim these costs using the simplified expenses scheme or by claiming actual allowable expenses. Read our article on being self-employed to ensure you claim the right expenses.

Create a business and marketing plan

By this point, you should have everything practical and legal in place. Your main aim is to grow your business so you can make a good income and make it your full-time job.

To do this, it helps to put together a plan for the future so you can map out what you need to do next.

Think about how you’re going to grow your business - what platforms will you use to get the word out? Here, it’s important that you think about the marketing tactics that are a good fit for your audience and experiment with different ways to promote your business.

For example, you might decide to go after mentions in the local newspaper, or you might play around with running Facebook ads, or perhaps you’ll ask influencers to share your product on their social feeds.

The key is to keep experimenting until you find marketing strategies that work for you. You can’t grow a successful business overnight. Instead, it takes time, effort, and planning to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Are you ready to start your business from home?

Owning a business is a lifelong dream for many people, but getting started can seem like a huge task. Follow these steps and you’ll have your home business up and running in no time at all.