Maybe you lost your job in the pandemic, or perhaps all the uncertainty made you think, “I wouldn’t have to worry about being let go if I ran the company.” Whatever your reasons, you’ve decided to start a business from home.
If you intend to start a business from your garage, follow best practices to create a comfortable, ergonomic environment where you can fully engage and focus. You’ll also navigate a sea of legal requirements and decisions, and tweak your methods to reach ultimate success.
Here are eight considerations to keep in mind while building your business.
How comfortable do you feel at your desk? If your response is, “not very,” guess what? You won’t feel motivated to do the work it takes to build a successful company if your workspace gives you backaches and migraines.
If your spine screams for help after 30 minutes of sitting, consider a variable-height desk.
One 2016 study by Texas A&M University shows that such models increase productivity by as much as 50%. You can invest in blue-light-cutting glasses or switch your devices to twilight mode to prevent this wavelength from triggering head pain and nausea.
2. Climate Control
Part of your complete comfort involves temperature. If you’re working out of a garage, you need climate control.
You can extend the HVAC from your principal residence, although doing so can cost a pretty penny.
Using a window air conditioner is a less expensive option, and it can also be the most effective method, too. As a bonus, you’ll run your central air less often because you won’t leak heat whenever you open the door leading to your home.
3. Creating a Business Plan
Have you heard the old saying about failing to plan? You need a roadmap to success, and a solid business plan is the best way to chart your course and win investors’ trust.
If you’ve never written one before, have no worries. You can download a free template online and fill in the blanks. Once you write your plan, allow a family member or friend — or, better yet, a trusted mentor — to read and identify any potential blind spots. If you feel that starting from scratch isn’t the right path for you, you could consider investing in a franchise instead. This way, you can rely on the franchisor’s expertise and know-how, and you’ll also be able to achieve a work-life balance by doing what you truly love. For example, if you love dogs, you could start a dog training business. Working from home requires minimal capital, and your setup doesn’t have to be anything fancy either, as you never meet with clients in your home setting.
4. Obtaining Appropriate Licenses
While you don’t need to reserve a doing-business-as, or DBA, it’s wise to do so for your company. This registration often costs less than $50, and it protects you from competitors using your business name — with sometimes disastrous results.
You may need profession-specific licensure as well. If you hope to sell health insurance, you’ll need to get licensed for health, accident and life insurance. If you want to run a margarita truck, you’ll require a liquor license.
5. Selecting Your Corporate Structure
You can hang out a shingle and begin doing work as a sole proprietor. However, if someone sues you, you could lose your family home — this business structure does not limit liability to professional resources.
You can form a single-member LLC to separate business and personal assets in the event of a lawsuit. This structure has the advantage of letting you add more members later — they will share in the protection.
6. Planning for Tax Time
When you work for an employer, your HR department takes care of withholding your Social Security, Medicare and income taxes. However, when you work for yourself, you earn a second job title as an accountant.
Invest in a software program like QuickBooks Self-Employed to keep accurate records of income and expenses. Since the U.S. has a pay-as-you-go income-tax system, you’ll need this data to file your quarterlies and your end-of-year return.
7. Building Your Client Base
What kind of customers do you hope to serve? If you responded, “the kind who pay me,” how will you target those individuals?
Here’s where you have to get creative. If you have a service-oriented industry like carpet cleaning, you can do door-to-door flyers relatively inexpensively. You can also approach other local business owners to inquire about their needs. If you intend to walk dogs for a living, advertise someplace pet people frequent — like bulletin boards at Humane Societies and dog parks.
8. Evaluating Your Strategy and Planning for Growth
Once you finish your first quarter, take time to reflect on your successes and pitfalls. What went well, and what fell flat? Resist the urge to dwell on failures. Instead, think of them as detour signs on the highway to success. They offer valuable insight as to when you need to change direction.
In today’s economy, it pays to work for yourself. If you want to start a successful business from your garage, use the tips above to build your destiny.