There are many positives to running a business from your home, including increased autonomy, no commuting, and an improved work-life balance. But as a small business owner, shifting to remote work or starting a new business can be overwhelming and requires discipline and strategic planning. 

A 2021 report from Intuit QuickBooks Canada found one in five entrepreneurs (21%) started a small business after the pandemic struck. The report surveyed Canadian entrepreneurs and discovered 39% did so because they had spare time because of the pandemic, 23% because of financial concerns, and 19% did after being laid off from their jobs. And while most entrepreneurs (73%) and aspiring entrepreneurs (76%) are optimistic about the future, almost half (46%) admit to being worried about their finances. Of note, 79% say they intend to sell products and services online.

Regardless of the type of startup you’re launching, here are eight home-based business tips to help you get organized, worry less, and make your new venture a success:

woman working at home

1. Schedule your week. Get into the habit of scheduling your time throughout each business day and treating it as you would if commuting to an office or workplace. Set daily and weekly priorities to accomplish and strive to complete them. Determine when you will communicate with your customers and partners and when you will get offline and focus on personal and family obligations.

2. Have a dedicated office space. Mobile computing is a wonderful thing. Although it allows you to work wherever you like in your abode, it’s wise to have a designated corner of a room or private office space that’s equipped with the tools and resources you need. In addition, be aware of the background in that space when conducting virtual conference calls and be wary of overloading electrical circuits in that space since it can trigger a fire. Also, ensure your office space has adequate lighting and is free of debris and clutter to prevent a trip and fall.

3. Research the market. Know who your competition is and do research to discover what makes your small business unique. For example, suppose you’re starting a home daycare business. Instead of promoting your startup as a general daycare service where there’s competition aplenty, see if you can find something to specialize in that other companies don’t, like certified nutrition services. It’s also worthwhile to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to figure out how your home-based business idea will perform. If you plan on running a purely online business, deciding what to sell or service to offer can be difficult. One thing that might help narrow that focus is considering the risk of the product or service you provide. For instance, selling books online is much less risky than selling toys or knives. 

4. Write a business plan. You need to have a strategic plan for your small business to be successful, and it’s necessary if you wish to apply for small business financing in the future since most financial institutions will want to see that plan. Think of your business plan as a roadmap or blueprint you will follow to accomplish goals and identify challenges you must tackle.

5. Be mindful of accounting and taxation. It’s vital to be aware of tax laws and manage your finances. Opening a business bank account, determining your budget, and consistently tracking your expenses is critical and can help you deal with unexpected expenses that may crop up. Of course, not everyone fancies doing bookkeeping and accounting but maintaining accurate financial records should be one of every small business owner’s priorities.

6. Know your legal requirements. Check your municipal and provincial legal requirements and determine if your home-based business needs a licence or permit. Depending on the type of small business you have, you may need to check local zoning laws to ensure you’re compliant with them. Business law plays a vital role in your success. The legal landscape can dramatically influence your business for the better (or, the worse, too, if you’re not careful).

7. Make digital marketing a priority. If you’re operating a small business out of your digs, you know you need a website to promote and advertise your goods and services. But how will people find you online? That’s where digital marketing comes into play. First, pull a marketing plan together, including an overview of your marketing goals, your target market and ideal customer, and the metrics you will track to see what’s working and what isn’t. Once that plan is established, outline goals for your website, determine the social media channels you’ll use, and what type of email marketing campaigns you’ll run.

8. Get adequate insurance coverage. If you’re running a small business from home, will your home insurance policy cover you in the event of an accident or unexpected event? In many instances, the answer is ‘no’, or the amount of coverage your home policy provides may be inadequate. That’s because most home insurance policies aren’t designed to cover damages or losses related to business activities. You need to be risk-averse and protect yourself. If you have customers, business partners, or delivery people visiting your property, look into purchasing a home-based business insurance policy that includes coverages like commercial general liability.

Canada needs more entrepreneurs. Starting and running a home-based business takes focus, determination, and grit. There will be ups and downs along the way, but don’t get discouraged when challenges mount. Creating habits and routines and sticking to your plan can help power you through the rough patches.

Above all, protect your venture and your finances with a customized home business insurance policy. Get a free quote and have a conversation with a Zensurance licensed broker about what types of coverages you require and how to reduce any risks you may face.

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