Copyright 2005 Mal Keenan
Starting a home business is a dream that many people share. You can work according to your own schedule, "fire" difficult clients, avoid difficult bosses, spend more time with your family, escape a lot of the daily stress faced by employees at their jobs, and pursue your own interest more. It's a big leap from being an employee to working for yourself, so a little preliminary planning can never hurt.
You will need to look ahead to several areas of your life to make necessary preparations, before you actually leave your job. In some cases, such as a layoff, you won't have that opportunity in advance, but still, these are very important factors to consider.
Market research and a business plan are essential. Timing is very important. You will need to think about the type of business you're starting, current economic conditions, your financial situation, and the potential market for your products or services.
If you have no other means of financial support, you should accumulate some savings to carry you through your business startup. Most experts typically suggest six months to one year of living expenses as a cushion. Don't forget that you will need to provide for benefits you may have received at a job, such as health insurance for yourself and your family and funding into a retirement plan. Of course, if you have a spouse or partner who is employed and is willing to provide these necessities during your startup phase, you are that much ahead of the game.
It is important that you choose the business structure that's best for your business. Each form of business organization has both legal and tax implications, so be sure to consult with professionals in this area.
Of course you will want to have a comfortable and quiet work space. Ideally, it will be out of the mainstream of activity. This is important not only to reduce noise, but also psychologically for you and your family, to create a sense of "at work" and "at home". While some truly start their home business from the kitchen table, you'll find that the separation will help you run your business much more efficiently. Don't forget to allow space for manufacturing and inventory storage, if your business involves those things.
Working from home, sometimes long and unusual hours, makes it very easy to ignore both your physical and mental health. The usual advice applies - try to eat a proper diet and exercise, and even if you don't have a family at home, don't work all the time. Entrepreneurs often report the one aspect they miss most from having a regular job is the contact with coworkers, so be sure to maintain a social life, even if it's only through a business networking or support group.
Finally, try to surround yourself with positive, supportive people, hopefully starting with your own family. This will be a critical part of your support system. It's not always possible to get "buy in" from your family. Those who love you the most aren't usually trying to stand in your way - it's just that working in a home business is something unknown to them, and like everyone, they tend to be fearful of something they don't understand. If you find yourself in this situation, you they don't understand. If you find yourself in this situation, you may be able find the support you need in a business networking or mastermind group.
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