The ongoing pandemic continues to make it difficult for job seekers to find employment. Thus, more and more people are considering starting their own business to diversify their income stream.
That said, starting a home business requires careful planning and thorough research. Without it, you risk wasting time and money without a satisfying outcome.
This article will discuss ten checklists you need to go through before starting a home business to reach success. This includes brainstorming for ideas, creating a business plan, and legally registering your company.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
1. Determine the Business Ideas
Before starting a home business, it’s critical to brainstorm some ideas and find one that fits you best.
You can narrow down the options by focusing on your skills and interests. This is important to keep you going and avoid burnout in the long run.
Essentially, there are three types of online business types you should look at:
- Physical products. Tangible products that you’ll ship once a customer has made a purchase online.
- Digital products. Intangible products in a digital format, which can be sold and distributed repeatedly.
- Services. Selling your time and skillset for a price, such as designing, writing, or tutoring.
From here, choose a category that piques your interest and start jotting down ideas. For instance, if you’re skilled in graphic design, consider starting a home-based design service.
2. Get a Domain Name
After settling with a well-fitting business idea, it’s time to choose the right domain name – the address people will use to access your site.
A great domain name should reflect your business, be short, and easy to pronounce. Additionally, try keeping your domain name less than three words. It’s also best to avoid numbers and special characters.
Not only will this make your brand memorable, but it’ll also help your website rank higher on search engine result pages.
For instance, online clothing companies, such as shopatanna.com and wearpact.com, use this practice. They add relevant keywords such as shop and wear, while keeping the domain name simple and easy to remember.
After finding a suitable domain name for your business, you can check its availability and purchase it right away from a domain registration provider, like Hostinger.
3. Create a Business Plan
A business plan acts as a roadmap for your business. It is a document containing your business goals and strategies.
Even as a home-based business person, this action plan is how you stay on top. With a clear business plan, you can establish focus and perform actions that pursue the objectives effectively.
Without proper planning, you risk wasting time and prioritizing wrongly, which can result in losing customers and profit.
When writing up your business plan, follow the SMART goals system. Doing so will help you set realistic expectations on what you can accomplish in the beginning.
4. Use Tools To Organize Your Business
Starting a home business requires discipline and organization skills. With the right tools, you can get on top of your tasks while also growing your business for success.
Here are five critical tools to organize your home business:
- Accounting software. This handles invoicing, financial reporting, and tax filing. Some great tools for the job include Xero and Quickbooks.
- Communication tools. Aside from e-mails and other text-based communication platforms, video conferencing services, such as Google Meet and Zoom, are rising in popularity for online meetings.
- Online storage. Manage and store various files such as PDFs, spreadsheets, and media with tools like Dropbox or Google Drive.
- Calendar. Stay organized by keeping schedules such as deadlines, meetings, and calls using a tool like Google Calendar.
- Task management tools. Stay on top of work and keep track of your tasks with tools like Notion, Asana, or Evernote.
5. Research Your Target Audience
Target audience refers to the specific group of people who are interested in the products you sell.
For example, if your business offers tutoring services, the ideal target audience would be those interested in learning your particular specialty.
On the other hand, those selling kitchenware would have adults, chefs, or housewives as their target audience.
Identifying your target audience will help you choose the right platform and plan the best approach to selling your products or services.
That said, here are the tips to help identify your target audience and promote your products or services to the right crowd:
- Understand your product. List your products’ features and advantages so you can pinpoint the benefits and find their unique selling points.
- Identify current customers. Gain customer insight through data by using Google Analytics, CRM software, and social media insight to improve your product further.
- Conduct competitor analysis. Assess your products’ strengths and weaknesses in contrast to your competitors’.
From there, you can create a user persona – a semi-fictional character of your ideal customer based on the research. This visualization will help plan better product, content, and marketing strategies.
6. Register the Business
It’s important to find out the legal requirements for running your home business. Without proper registration, you risk losing your business to fines and being forced to close.
The first step is to choose a business structure. Generally, small businesses are registered as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), which protects your personal assets in case of bankruptcy or lawsuits.
Solo entrepreneurs, on the other hand, often choose sole proprietorship. This business structure is a more affordable option since it doesn’t require registration with the government.
In addition to that, you might need a business and sales tax ID to collect and file taxes. Some regions also require obtaining a seller’s permit, so make sure to look into it properly.
7. Build a Website
Once you’ve finished all the paperwork, it’s time to build a website for your business. Not only will this help your brand gain online visibility, but it will also help you appear more credible and trustworthy.
The first step to building a website is choosing a suitable platform. One of the most popular platforms is WordPress, which is extensible and flexible with plugins. However, basic coding knowledge may be required to maximize its use.
Alternatively, you can use a website builder for a more beginner-friendly option. They come with user-friendly features such as a drag-and-drop editor and pre-made template options, making it easy to get started.
Whichever option you choose, here’s a list of essential elements to have on your online store:
- Clear navigation. Make the call-to-action button stand out, choose a different font color and style for links, and organize content by order of priority to guide users’ eyes to the most important elements of your store.
- Mobile-ready design. Use responsive design so your website can adjust to any device. Not only will this improve the user’s experience, but it will also positively affect your site’s search engine optimization.
- Consistent branding. Make sure your website is memorable by using repeating elements. This will make your brand more recognizable and distinctive from competitors.
- Scannable and readable. Avoid adding irrelevant elements as they will clutter your pages and make for a poor viewing experience. Consider making room for white space and testing your content’s readability using tools, such as Readable.
8. Set Up Your Site’s Pages
After choosing a platform and understanding the critical elements to have on your site, let’s have a look at your web pages.
There are several pages that are essential to an online store, which are:
- Homepage. Here is where you introduce your business and feature a hero product image to excite the target audience.
- About Us page. This page lets visitors gain more insight into your business. Consider including your business’ history, vision, and mission statement.
- Product gallery. Display all product images on this page. Add filtering and sorting options to help buyers find items faster and easier.
- Shipping information. Provide information such as the estimated cost of shipping and time of arrival, so customers know what to expect.
- Cart page. This page should let buyers review their orders before finalizing their purchases. It should display the total cost so customers know how much they can expect to pay.
9. Set Up Payment and Fulfillment Methods
Make sure your website has a reliable payment system. It should process transactions from customers seamlessly and securely, so customers’ data would be safe from unauthorized users.
Below are some widely-used payment methods:
- PayPal. This is one of the most popular online payment gateway options. In fact, consumers are 54% more likely to buy from a business that accepts PayPal.
- Stripe. This payment gateway offers anti-fraud measures and easy checkout flow to provide your customers with a great purchasing experience.
- Amazon Pay. Customers can easily make a purchase by logging into their Amazon account, and information details such as address and payment credentials will automatically be filled in.
10. Market and Promote Your Business
Last but not least, it’s time to spread the word about your online business. Consider the tips below to help you get the info out:
- Apply the best SEO practices. Consider including keywords relevant to your content’s products or services.
- Leverage the right social media channels. Be present on channels your target audience is most active on.
Additionally, other marketing strategies include:
- Email marketing. Set up an opt-in form to ask for an email address every time a user visits the store. On average, this approach brings in $38 for every $1 invested.
- Blogging. It’s an excellent way to connect with readers and increase the chances of sharing and commenting.
- Search advertising. 75% of users think paid ads help find information. To ensure people click, use keywords related to your products and the audience’s search intent.
Making sure you know all the steps before starting a home business is crucial. It can create a roadmap for your business and act as a guideline for your process. When done right, it can set your business up for success.
To summarize, here are the checklists mentioned in this article:
- Brainstorm business ideas that best fit your skill and interest.
- Get a domain name that is reflective of your brand.
- Create a business plan that contains your goals and ways to achieve them.
- Download and make use of tools to organize your business, such as Asana and Google Calendar.
- Research your target audience so you can promote and sell your products to the right crowd.
- Register your business under a license, so your assets are protected.
- Build a website to showcase and gain online visibility for your products or services.
- Set up your site’s pages with the essentials, such as homepage, About Us page, and cart page.
- Set up payment and fulfillment methods to provide customers with a seamless checkout process.
- Market and promote your business to increase brand awareness, site traffic, and profit.
Now that you’ve learned what to prepare before starting your business, it’s time to start planning and executing. Best of luck!