21 Steps to Starting a Home Business (Part 3)

November 29, 2013 | By | Reply More

start a home business

Read 21 Steps to Starting a Home Business

Step 14. Open a Business Checking Account

Call several banks to find out what services they offer, and what minimum balance, if any, must be maintained to avoid paying a service charge. Also ask about credit card if you plan to offer this convenience to your customers. Bank fees can be significant, so shop around for the best deal.

If your personal checking account is with a credit union, see if it can also provide a separate business account. when you open your account, you may need to show the assumed name certificate and business license.

Finally, investigate obtaining a credit card in the business’s name. If this is not possible, set aside a personal credit card to use for business expenses.

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Step 15. Set-Up Record-Keeping Systems

Choose the record-keeping system that will provide enough financial information for you to effectively operate the business and, of course, meet the tax filing requirements. One way is to put together a simple and effective bookkeeping system with an 8 1/2 x 11″ three-ring binder, columnar pad sheets and twelve pocket dividers from the office supply store. For each month, set up columnar sheets for income and expenses. Use a pocket divider for each month’s receipts, bank statement, deposit tickets, and canceled checks.

In addition, an automobile log for business mileage, and filing system for correspondence, invoices, supplier catalogs, client records, etc. are two other useful tools.

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Step 16 Check IRS Requirements

If you comply with basic IRS guidelines, you can deduct a percentage of normal household expenses (mortgage, interest, taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs, etc.) as a business expense. The use of your home as an office may be tax deductible if it is the principal place of your business. This is determined by the relative importance of the activities performed at each business location, and the amount of time spent at each location.

Also become familiar with these IRS forms: Schedule SE (compensation of Social Security Self-Employment Tax) and Schedule 1040 ES (estimated Tax for Individuals). Depending on circumstances, you may have to file them.

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Step 17. Outfit the Business

Consider what you will need in terms of communication and furniture. Make a list of everything needed to start the business. Telephones, fax machines, photocopiers, scanners, computers and printers are the main elements in business communication today. Before you buy anything, look around the house for things you already own that are usable. Also consider what you need on-site and what is available through an outside service.

In addition, ensure that you have adequate filing or inventory capacity. An organized system can make retrieval of items and files when they are needed.

When you are ready to start purchasing, check the classified ads and garage sales. Both are good, inexpensive sources for office furniture, typewriters, computers, answering machines, etc. But only what is absolutely necessary for start-up, and wait until the business is off the ground to get the extras.

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Step 18. Decide on Technology and Communication Requirements

Call the telephone company to find out the cost of a business phone in your area. Remember, a separate phone line for your business is tax deductible. A business phone also allows you to be listed in the Yellow Pages (and its online version).

However, if you cannot afford a separate business line, investigate the telephone company’s regulations on using your personal phone in a business. Keep a record of long distance business calls as they are a deductible expense. Don’t skimp on phone service. Customers do not like busy signals. Consider installing a multilane telephone set if you think that your phone activity will be on the heavy side.

Finally, consider the benefits of an answering machine to catch calls when you are out. Local telephone companies offer a wide range of services, such as call-waiting feature that may be handy during the course of your business operations. Make sure that you answer your business telephone calls in a professional manner. If possible, place your phone in an area free from noise from children, pets, TV and stereo.

Then consider how you will work, including how mobile you need to be. If you need to work in different places, be sure to get the technology you need such as laptop or notebook computer, tablet computer, as well as mobile wi-fi or hotspot access. Also consider if you need to communicate by customers more than email, such as video conferencing.

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Step 19. Check Out the Post-Office and UPS

Given that the home address is also the business address, some home-based entrepreneurs choose to use a post-office box instead of their home addresses. Think of what postal address you want to show in your website, or use when mailing your customers.

However, a postal box as an address has its own advantages and disadvantages. While it can protect your privacy concerns as well as to prevent customers from dropping by at all hours, many people are also suspicious of businesses with post office box addresses. Some states even require a business to have a street address.

An alternative is to use a mailbox service, where your address is the address of their locations plus a “suite number” that is actually your mailbox number.

While looking into box rental, ask for information on the various postal rates, particularly bulk rate, if you plan to do large or specialized mailings. If you mail many packages, check out United Parcel Service (UPS), as it is less expensive than the Post Office.

Step 20. Purchase the Necessary Insurance

Another critical consideration for the home-based business owner is property and liability insurance. Check with your homeowners’ insurance agent about a rider for your existing policy or the need for a separate business policy. Also, make sure you have adequate personal and product liability coverage. To take advantage of the tax breaks, insurance coverage should protect the function, equipment and location of the office and equipment. Shop around, as each company has different rules regarding home businesses

If you have employees, you need to conform to state workers’ compensation regulations and coverage for any occasional workers.

To save money on medical insurance, assess small group plans and private commercial insurance options. You may also join an association and participate in their group plan, such as the National association for the Self-Employed (www.nase.org)

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Step 21. Organize the House and Yourself

To have more time for business, organize and simplify household routines. Start by holding a garage sale to get rid of unnecessary possessions. Next, have a family conference and divide household duties, making sure each person does his or her part. The, set up a planning notebook to keep track of appointments, things to do, calls to make, errands to run, shopping, etc. Finally, set up a work schedule so you won’t get sidetracked by TV, neighbor’s visits, snacking, and telephone calls. (Read our detailed article on this topic)

Creating and operating a home business is a wonderful and rewarding challenge. The satisfaction is not only in the money earned, but in doing what makes you happy.

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 21 Steps to Starting a Home Business  Part 1   |  Part 2   |    Part 3


Isabel Isidro is the co-founder of PowerHomeBiz.com. A mom of three boys, avid vintage postcard collector, frustrated scrapbooker, she also manages Women Home Business, Starting Up Tips and Learning from Big Boys. Connect with her in Google +.

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