There’s no place like home

Ready to flex your entrepreneurial muscle? Try setting up shop right at your kitchen table

Although many entrepreneurs first start their businesses from home, many don’t take into consideration (or aren’t aware of) the complex issues involved. According to the National Association of Home-Based Businesses (NAHBB) in Owings Mills, Maryland, more than 55 million people work from home. Of that number, about one-third (18.5 million) are independent entrepreneurs in areas ranging from computer consulting to commercial cleaning.

"People can no longer count on a regular 9-to-5 job. To gain some stability, they are using home-based businesses for a secondary income source, if not a primary income source," says Rudy Lewis, president of NAHBB.
Other would-be entrepreneurs choose home-based ventures because of their convenience and low start-up cost. Although the expense varies according to the type of operation you start, some can be launched for as little as $500.

But low cost does not mean low maintenance. Starting and operating a successful home-based venture requires careful planning and discipline.

This nine-part series will show you how to turn your domicile into a productive and profitable work environment. Throughout the series we will discuss the following:

  • Zoning regulations.
  • How to define your work-at-home environment.
  • How to balance the kids and your home business.
  • How to insure your home business.
  • How to prepare for client meetings in and outside the home.
  • Tax planning for home-based entrepreneurs.
  • Organizations targeting home-based business owners.
  • How to make the transition from a home-based business to working in an outside store or office.

Of course, not everyone is cut out to work from home, and not every home will successfully support a business. Before you rearrange the basement or convert that spare bedroom into an office, consider these factors:

  • The type of business you will operate. Not all businesses can thrive from a home base. You must determine if the one you’ve chosen will fit comfortably into your residence and community. Consider whether your business will require a lot of customer or client visits. If so, you may encounter problems with zoning rules.
  • Assess your space requirements. You may need to store large pieces of equipment or inventory, so if you have only a small bedroom from which to work, operating from your home may not be feasible. Also, consider your community. Some businesses create loud noises or odors that could have a negative impact on your neighborhood, forcing you to take down your shingle.
  • Your level of discipline: Working from home sounds ideal, but are you disciplined enough to focus when you’re home alone? In order to operate a successful home-based operation, you must be self-motivated and have self-control. If you’re the type of person who’s more productive when surrounded by co-workers, a home-based business may not be right for you.

Starting a home-based business can be an effective way to achieve autonomy if you have the right tools and the right attitude.

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