By Michelle Loredo
Starting a new year means the beginning of new opportunities and new business endeavors. If you have been thinking of starting your own home-based business, you can add it to your New Year resolutions.
We have put together how you can start your business from home and the resources available to you as a prospective business owner.
Can Your Business Idea be Conducted at Home?
Starting an at-home business can be stressful, but having a plan can reduce confusion. The first question you have to answer is, can your business idea work as a home-based business? When you are deciding, keep these things in mind:
If you decide that your business idea can work from home, you have to set boundaries with the people you live with, including significant others, children and roommates. Your home life can impact the way you run your business, so make sure that business from home is feasible in your circumstances.
Your home-based business doesn’t have to stop at home. If you have business meetings or need a break from home stressors, you can work at coffee shops, quiet restaurants and other free shared workspaces.
At Home Business Regulations
Once you have decided to start your small business from home and have answered all the questions regarding logistics, your next step is to define your business structure and all legalities. This includes:
Decide what kind of business structure you are going to use for your home-based business. To legally operate in the City of Houston, your business has to fill out a Business Entity Registration Form. Here are a few examples:
Another important factor when starting your business from home is deciding what type of business insurance you will need. There are three that specifically cover at-home businesses:
For some businesses, you may need a federal license to operate. It applies to specific fields, such as agriculture, alcohol, broadcasting, etc. Your business may need a local permit, but it depends on your city and county. Look into the resources that your local government gives to prospective small business owners to guide you in this process.
Resources Available to Small Businesses
Google for Small Business is a free resource that helps small business owners build their online presence and effectively reach customers. It's a free tool you can use for your home-based business. You can use the different resources such as digital toolkits, market research tools, promotion tools and COVID-19 resources.
Another Google tool you should take advantage of is Google My Business. You can use this free tool to engage with customers by creating an online business listing they can find on the search engine. You can show your hours of operation, upload pictures of your business and see customer engagement.
The City of Houston has a Houston Business Portal, a free resource that aims to help future business owners start their endeavors. It includes startup guides, starter kits and other free business-related resources.
The SBDC Network can guide you as you start your business. Our advising services are free of cost and are confidential. The SBDC business advisors can help you with business planning, capital access, sales and marketing, accounting assistance, market research, financial analysis and much more. Due to health precautions, all advising sessions are taking place online or via phone call.