Once you have decided on your home business, you will need to take steps to set it up. The following checklist should help you get your business off the ground.
- Before you begin your home business, check the zoning ordinances in your area. Call or look online for your city or county government(usually the planning department, building inspector or zoning administrator)to check zoning rules. Your neighborhood also may have restrictions.
- Decide if you will be incorporated. Talk to a lawyer and check out books on the subject such as, John Kirk, Incorporating Your Business, TPR Publishing.
- Also decide if you will need patents, trademarks or copyrights on your work.
- If you will be incorporated, a partnership or have employees, obtain an Employer’s Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS. Also if you have employees, call the Employment Commission for information on unemployment taxes you must pay.
- Determine if you should charge sales tax on your product or service (by calling the State Comptroller’s office in most states).
- Register your business name. Contact your county courthouse. (DBA-Doing Business As)
- Obtain any state or federal licenses if required by your business.
- Set up your business checking and savings accounts. You may want to deduct a percentage of your earnings to set aside for taxes. Shop around for banks that don’t charge monthly fees (such as credit unions) and some others.
- Obtain a separate business telephone line.
- Order business stationary and cards. If you need small quantities, consider using pre-printed paper.
- Talk to your insurance company about additional insurance to cover your business equipment, inventory, liability, etc.
- Meet with a CPA regarding tax and accounting issues. They may be able to point out deductions you may be eligible for and help you better understand tax issues.
- Keep complete and separate records for your business. Record each sale, invoice, receipt, payroll, expense, etc. Keep copies of all receipts, invoices, cancelled checks, etc. Record your business mileage in a daily log book that you keep in your vehicle.
Be prepared to start your home business by:
- Developing a business plan.
- Making contacts and networking for clients and customers before you begin your home business.
- Checking on health insurance costs and options. Running your business part-time if you need the security of your job.
- Have financial resources if needed to carry you through the first several months of starting your business.
- Read everything there is on the type of business that you wish to start.
As Diana Ennen of Virtual Word Publishing states, “Learn how the pros have done it to help avoid costly mistakes and get great tips to success as well.”
Lesley Spencer is founder and president of the HBWM.com, Inc. She has a Master’s Degree in Public Relations and has been featured in numerous media outlets including CBS News, Forbes, Business Week, Parents, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. She has been working from home for over 10 years and has two children whom she absolutely adores!