In today’s economy, more and more people have started to look for opportunities to increase their income by starting a home-based business.
For many, this is a part-time supplemental income to their full-time employment.
To others, this is their full-time business and the main source of their family income. For those who are thinking of becoming new home-based business owners, here are some tips that may be useful.
Make sure you are legal:
The first thing you need to do before starting a home-based business is make sure your home can be a home-based business.
Many neighborhoods have strict covenants prohibiting any type of businesses in homes. Most municipalities have restrictions on the type of activity that is allowed in home-based businesses.
For example, it is common that home-based businesses are not allowed to have any employees – other than the homeowner – work at the business and can’t have products delivered to the home.
Check with your city or county zoning officials to know what rules apply to your location.
Record keeping and tax deductions:
There are plenty of myths of what you can “write off” with regard to your home-based business.
The best place to get the facts on what you can and can’t deduct is the IRS Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home. This can be found at irs.gov.
I have run into people who want to write off their hobby as a home-based business. I always make them aware the IRS has what is known as the “hobby loss rule” that prevents taxpayers from writing off hobbies as if they are businesses.
One of the great advantages of working at home is the flexibility.
However, this flexibility has caused the downfall of many home-based entrepreneurs because they lacked the discipline to set schedules to get the work done.
In other situations, family members don’t take the home-based business seriously and assume you will have time to take care of all the family errands.
My best advice is post office hours that let family members know that you are off-limits during that time.
Network and connect:
Many home-based business owners find working at home a lonely proposition. Schedule regular activities outside the office that allow you to network with other business owners and help you find new business.
You can also network through the Internet.
With tools such as Skype and “Go to Meeting,” you can create an online network that allows you to stay in touch with other business owners and share successful ideas.
It’s never been easier to connect and stay connected to others.
Points to remember:
Take your home business seriously. If you don’t, no one else will.
— Don’t speculate. Choose something you enjoy and that people will pay for.
— Don’t sell yourself short. Charge what you are worth.
— Don’t go halfway. Create a thoroughly professional image.
— Prepare a business plan. Then monitor, record and evaluate success and failures.
Lynn Vos is area director of the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at 912-651-3200.