First you need a online shopfront
Every business needs a shopfront - the place to which your customers go to check out whatever you are selling. If you have a home-based business, odds are your main shopfront needs to be on the internet. Your main online shopfront will probably be your business website. Your main tools for doing business with customers will be email, telephone, your website and the various social media platforms you also use as shopfronts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram. Whilst you may also meet with local customers or clients face to face, your customers will need to be able to find you online and find out what you sell online. You might also sell your goods or services online.
So, you want to start up a home-based business?
Whether you're selling goods or services, let's assume you have done a bit of research and thought about the pros and cons of traditional types of businesses with external offices or shops in the business district of your town and face-to-face meetings with customers, versus home-based business with virtual shopfronts on the internet and mainly online dealings with customers (e.g. email, internet, telephone). Let's assume you have decided that a home-based business will work best for the goods or services you want to sell, who you want to sell them to, and the way that you want to do business.
If you want your home-based, mainly online business to be competitive, you'll need these skills and qualities:
In your home-based office you'll also need to have the usual office equipment and services such as phone, internet, computer, printer etc., and it's a good idea to also have a back-up source of funds, in case you need financial support during the first year or two of managing your home-based business.
When I decided to start up a business, I launched myself into it straight away without any training in small business management. In retrospect, this was putting the cart before the horse. It was only once I was managing my business and up to my neck in expenses, income, bank statements and BAS that I realised I needed some formal training or the business would go down the drain. In between managing clients and bookings and earning money, I learned about business plans, marketing, book-keeping and other business practices. Trying to learn the basics of business management whilst flat out working in my business was really exhausting and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
If you want to start up a home-based business, I suggest that you first undertake at least a short course in small business management. This will make it easier to start up and manage your business and end up saving you time and money.
This article is based on my own experiences since starting On Time Typing as a small (sole trader) online/onsite scribing business in 2002 which has evolved into an online transcription, scribing, writing, editing and proofreading business. I've written a number of other articles about managing sole trader businesses and work-life balance when working from home. You'll find them here: Blog - small business management
Keep posted for future articles about starting up and managing an online business.