Expert answers to home-based business questions

home-based business

With so many of us working from home these days, the small business landscape has changed. Maybe your team is slowly starting to return to the office, or maybe you’re exploring the idea of remote working in the future. Maybe you’ve become inspired to start a home-based business of your own.

Our GoForth Experts have fielded lots of questions about home-based businesses over the years, and have answers about topics such as zoning, permits, the home-based business lifestyle – and more! Here are a few home-based business questions our expert entrepreneurs have answered:

Have a question of your own? Search our database of over 1,000 small business questions and find answers from our expert entrepreneurs.

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How to stay organized when working from home

How to stay organized when working from home

Working from home is appealing to many entrepreneurs for its flexibility and potential cost savings. However, staying on top of your work can be difficult when you’re away from a traditional workplace. Here are some tips for keeping yourself organized when you work from home.

Have a dedicated home office space

Many home-based entrepreneurs love being able to work in a non-traditional environment. You can host an onboarding call from your couch or create your handmade jewelry at your kitchen table. However, having a dedicated office space can go miles in helping your small business succeed. Find an area in your home – it doesn’t have to be large – and keep all your files and supplies there. This will ensure you’re not scrambling for a contract in three months’ time. If you hold meetings with clients in your home office, this space will hold a larger importance and should look professional.

This area can also play a part in tax deductions for home-base businesses.

Stay on a schedule

Working from home often gives you a flexible schedule. However, there should be a schedule of some kind. Review your non-work plans and write them out, allowing for things like transportation time and traffic. Consider how these plans will fit in with your upcoming projects and deadlines, and reference this schedule often. Making sure you actually have enough time in your week will mean you’re not pulling all-nighters two days before your next deadline or deliverable. And most importantly – leave your work behind at the end of the day wherever possible! It can be tempting to keep working when you don’t actually need to, but try and stay mindful of it.

Keep on top of your filing

It’s a good idea to have a dedicated home office space, but you should definitely invest in keeping your space clutter-free and organized. Set aside regular chunks of time to review your files. Recycle, scan, or shred the items you don’t need anymore. And don’t forget about your digital clutter, too! There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your computer files arranged neatly in proper, easy-to-find folders.

Make sure you hang on to these important accounting records.

Minimize distractions

Being able to stay focused and will keep you on top of things and prevent your task list from going off the rails. Try to avoid having any kids in your home treat your home office like their play room, for example, and set limits with friends or neighbours who want to call or drop by “just for a minute” if you’re in the middle of a project.

Find organizational aids in software

Whatever your small business, there’s sure to be a program that can help you stay organized. For example, at GoForth we use Slack for messaging and calls, and Dropbox for file sharing. Ask your friends or colleagues what they like, and do your research before downloading anything (especially if it sounds too good to be true)!

If you’re running a virtual business with remote workers, check out our tips on how to manage a virtual office.

Also, read some working from home tips from real entrepreneurs!

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50 businesses you can start from home

Home-based entrepreneurs are self-employed, working alone or with few employees. Companies run by home-based entrepreneurs typically don’t have a storefront, street advertising signs or customer parking. Entrepreneurs working from home may have an office, studio or workshop, depending on their business.

Sounds great, right? If you think starting a home-based business might be ideal for you, here are 50 small businesses you can start from home, either full-time, or on the side:

  • Travel writer
  • Bookkeeper/accountant
  • Photographer
  • Event planner
  • Visual artist
  • Blogger
  • Freelance journalist
  • Personal assistant
  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Financial planner
  • Graphic designer
  • Web designer
  • Web developer
  • Marketing consultant
  • Bicycle repair
  • Social media management
  • IT consultant
  • Computer repair
  • Make-up artist
  • Alterations or sewing
  • Hairstylist
  • Manicurist
  • Personal shopper
  • Virtual assistant
  • Transcriptionist
  • Personal trainer
  • Tutor
  • Massage therapist
  • Bed & breakfast
  • Daycare
  • Clothing designer
  • Dog walker
  • Pet groomer
  • Jewelry designer
  • Ceramicist
  • Music instructor
  • Purse designer
  • Notary public
  • Language instructor
  • Home organizer
  • Interior decorator
  • Business coach
  • Personal chef
  • Video game review writer
  • Caterer
  • Wedding planner
  • Woodworking
  • Dog trainer
  • Home inspector

As always, we encourage you to thoroughly research and plan when starting any small business. Entrepreneurs starting a home-based business should be especially wary of scams and opportunities that sound too good to be true.

Good luck, and have fun!

For more tips on starting and running a home-based small business, check out these posts:

How to identify a work-from-home scam
You should sell these! How to start a business selling your handcrafted work
Perks and snags of internet or home-based businesses
Home-based business permits and expenses

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How to identify a work-from-home scam

legitimate work from home businessStarting a small business from home definitely has its perks, including time to run errands during the day, increased workspace flexibility, and money saved on transportation. So if you encounter a company that claims to give you the freedom to work from home, it can be tempting. However, not all home-based business programs are as good as they seem. Here are a few ways you can identify home-based business scams:

  • Read the terms and conditions on the company’s site very carefully. You may be asked to pay a small fee for the start-up DVD or instruction guide. Be sure you can return this material without incurring even more fees.
  • Look for money-back guarantees or free, no-obligation trials.
  • If you can discuss the program directly with a representative, then there’s a good chance it’s a legitimate home-based business opportunity. Be wary of people who are evasive about your questions, pressure you into signing up, or insist that you pay for more information.
  • Companies that insist you must spend exorbitant amounts of money in order to work for them are usually not reputable.
  • Research the company as thoroughly as you can. Do an online search of messageboards, member blogs, and review sites. Talk with people you know who may be involved with the program.
  • Be suspicious of sites that boast mind-blowing income promises. No business can promise you $25,000 a week for four hours of work. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instinct!
  • Even if promises of great income seem realistic, many companies post the income expectations of their highest earners – not the average.

For more information, check out what our GoForth Expert Carla Young had to say about finding legitimate home-based business opportunities.

 

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7 types of entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship isn’t a one-size-fits all model. There are different kinds of small businesses, and there are different kinds of entrepreneurs. Below is a list of the seven most common types of entrepreneurs. Which type – or combination of types – are you?

1) Home-based

Home-based entrepreneurs are self-employed. They run their business alone or with just a few employees, with headquarters being their own home or a home office. These business owners love the flexibility and autonomy of working from home, as well as the freedom to arrange their own schedules. These businesses usually don’t have a storefront, street advertising signs, or customer parking.

Examples: Bookkeepers, tutors, and graphic designers.

2) Internet-based

Internet-based entrepreneurs run their business online and use virtual technologies to support business activities. The business can provide a service or sell a product through a website. Some internet-based businesses can be home-based businesses too.

Examples: Virtual assistants, marketplace sites such as eBay and Etsy.

3) Lifestyle

Lifestyle entrepreneurs rank furthering their own personal goals second to making a large profit. Lifestyle entrepreneurs can pursue a cash-generating hobby during their spare time, or even start a business based on an interest. These businesses usually aren’t intended to be high growth, and usually have few employees.

Examples: A secondhand book store, or a small market stall selling homemade baked goods.

4) High potential

High potential entrepreneurs usually run companies employing between 20 and 500 people. These companies are often very fast-paced, with high growth rates, developing the latest technologies and innovations. Most start-up activity by high potential entrepreneurs is technology and internet related. They are often able to get funding easier than other sorts of businesses

Examples: Quickly-growing technology companies and large IT businesses.

5) Social

Social entrepreneurs are passionate about making a positive impact on the world around them. They create a business to provide solutions to social issues. They are also called non-profit or philanthropist entrepreneurs. Funding for social entrepreneurs typically comes from non-profit organizations, foundations, governments and non-governmental organizations.

Examples: KickStart International and the Grameen Bank.

6) Venture capital

Venture capitalists invest in businesses, through managerial and technical expertise, as well as with money. Venture capitalists are very picky about the companies they invest in, and as much as 98% of firms seeking funds are rejected. Aside from individual angels and venture capitalists, venture capital firms also exist.

Examples: Seen on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, as well as in large companies like those in Silicon Valley.

7) Franchise format

With direction and support of the franchisor, franchise format entrepreneurs open a franchise or chain in their local business area. These entrepreneurs follow the structures of their franchise and experience less freedom and autonomy than other types of entrepreneurs. However, they also enjoy the reduced risk of being part of an established franchise.

Examples: Century 21, Goodyear Tires, and Tim Hortons.

 

 

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