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How to Start a Home Business

May 31, 2015 | Jennifer Goodwyn

Fact: many successful corporations started in a home. Apple, Amazon, Hewlett Packard and many other entrepreneurial success stories stem from humble beginnings. Of course this makes sense: operating from home grants the owner the flexibility, freedom and reduced overhead costs needed to get a business going. But although starting a business from home has its undeniable benefits, it also has potential drawbacks you'll want to be prepared for.

Eliminate Distractions

Do you have the personality type that can work and live in the same area? For many, home is a sanctuary, a sort of fortress of solace away from the work-a-day grind. Even if you believe your business life and personal life can coexist, you'll still want to take steps to remove unwanted distractions. For instance, you may want to set aside a room as an office. Depending on your level of discipline, you may want your home office to be sparse – no television, magazines, video games or objects that can lure you away from the task at hand. One distraction, however, the home-based business owner will be unable to avoid – surfing the web. Try to keep time online that's unrelated to work at a minimum. To achieve this, attempt to leisurely perform web searches or social media check-ins at times when you find yourself least productive and in need of a short break.

Be Prepared for Bookkeeping

Invoicing, time tracking, estimates and information storage will take an increasingly larger (and more time-consuming) role as your business grows. Someone needs to handle your paperwork. Sure, you might be good at numbers but if you need to push out a report for a prospective client before the end day while engaged on several other fronts, you simply won't have the time to do this.  Consider outsourcing general accounting tasks to online services like outsourcingcpa.com. Or, if you're adamant about handling the numbers game internally, consider using freshbooks.com to facilitate accounting tasks and managing expenses.

Merchant Services and Billing Options

More than likely, you'll want to be set up to accept credit cards. If you have an e-commerce website, you can use a merchant services provider to bring it all online. Many companies pay by credit card instead of invoices, so it's a good idea to be prepared to accept credit. At any rate, establishing creditworthiness is essential to the future growth of any company.

Order Fulfillment

If you're retail-based, product storage can be a real hassle unless you have ample room in your house. Consider outsourcing your storage needs to fulfillment services. You should be able to find fulfillment companies that can work with your product suppliers to ship from their warehouse directly to your customers.

Your Business Address Matters

Your business address speaks volumes about your operation. Giving the perception of a business that is located in a reputable and renowned business building can be the deciding factor in closing deals, winning clients and meeting the compliance demands of some creditors, suppliers and lenders. A virtual office is perfect for projecting a professional image while saving money that would have otherwise been spent on a physical location.

Make Sure You're Technologically Equipped

A standard telephone and internet connection may be fine for some, but others will need more advanced options to reduce long-distance charges. This is another reason why many home-based businesses turn to virtual offices. Most virtual office suppliers provide VoIP services that include video conferencing, digital voice mail, hold music and more. You can also find many virtual office companies that offer voicemail to email and fax to email.