As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, more people than ever are now working from home. Many of those will be employees who have elected to work remotely rather than having to return to the office. It took a global pandemic to make us realise just how easy that could be.
The same technology that has made remote working such a popular choice is also enabling more people to start their own businesses from home.
However, as with any new commercial endeavour, starting a business from home has its own complications, regulations and pitfalls, as well as its own opportunities, benefits and advantages.
If you have home business ideas that you would like to pursue, it’s worth taking a look at some of the things you need to think about first.
How do I get started?
There are a few basic things you need to do before you can get properly started, although many of these are going to be the same as you would need to do for any new business.
That means things like:
Coming up with an idea and a name for your new business
Doing your research into potential customers and competitors
Putting together a business plan
Registering your business with Companies House and the tax office
Meanwhile, there will also be things specific to working from home:
Insurance – this shouldn’t be an issue if it will just be you working at a desk, but if you’ll be having customers coming to your home, or you’re going to be running a catering business, you’ll definitely need extra insurance.
Mortgage – if you’re a homeowner, do the terms of your mortgage allow you to use your home as a place of work?
Landlord permission – alternatively, if you’re renting, you may well need permission from your landlord.
Planning – if you need to make alterations to your home to make it suitable for home working, you may need to get planning permission from your local council.
Business rates – if you’re using a room in your home solely for business purposes, you may be subject to business rates. More information on this can be found on the GOV.uk website about business rates.
What are the advantages of starting a business from home?
Lower business costs – it’s a lot cheaper to run your business from home as opposed to renting an office…
Lower domestic costs – …while some of your domestic costs, such as electricity, heating, broadband and even council tax might suddenly become tax deductible expenses.
Work/life balance – working from home means that you have more control over your home life, so you can always be around for deliveries, tradespeople or even to pick the kids up from school. However, it’s not all sweetness and light (see following section)!
Shorter commute – if you’re fed up sitting in the traffic heading into and home from work, how enticing does walking upstairs to a home office sound? Feel the stress just melt away!
What are the problems associated with starting a business from home?
Space now – again, if it’s just you sitting at a desk this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you need to find somewhere to store items you’re selling, keep business equipment or meet and greet customers and clients, you may find the space you need for work and the space you need for your home life add up to more than the space you have available.
Future space – naturally, you want your business to be a success, but you may find that as you grow you need to take on employees to help or you need even more space to store stock and equipment. That might result in you having to go back to a formal external office and losing all those benefits of working from home that drew you to the idea in the first place.
Work/life balance – working at home means it can be a lot harder to turn off at the end of the working day. Meanwhile, if there are other members of the family at home while you’re trying to work, their presence may be too much of a distraction.
Isolation – the great thing about the traditional office is the sense of camaraderie and mutual support it can engender. When you work on your own from home, you’ll need to provide all the motivation and discipline yourself.
As we’ve seen, having great small business ideas from home is only the start – there’s a lot more to think about and consider if you decide to go ahead. If your new business involves retail, you can’t do better than source equipment you’ll need from Morplan – the one-stop shop for businesses of all sizes with prices on retail essentials, from retail packaging and mail order supplies to shop fittings and mannequins, that make setting up your business affordable and easy.