Your guide to starting a business from home

How to start a business from home

Making the move to self-employment and starting a business from home is an exciting step in your career. With a newfound freedom and passion for your work, you’ll be more motivated than ever to get going. But, with so much to learn about running a business, where do you start? 


From producing an initial idea to the day-to-day running of your business, our guide covers everything you need to know about setting up your small business from home.

What business can I do from home?

The first step on the path to self-employment is deciding what type of business you want to create.


Whether you want to use your current job expertise to create a freelance service, or you’d like to completely change your profession, there are endless careers that can be started from home.


Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most successful start-up industries and professions that you can start at home.


Creative industry


If you have a background in design, photography, copywriting, or anything creative, freelancing is a common way to go self-employed. You will have more artistic freedom and flexibility to work on projects you feel passionate about, you will have more chance to choose or turn down what you work on. Plus, you might be able to make more money if your brand takes off.


There is a vast range of digital tools and software available to freelancers, so you can easily create an at-home workspace which suits your needs.


Industrial trades


Whether you are a woodworker, plumber, or electrician – or just love DIY – you can use your training, experience, and skillset to become a self-employed tradesperson.


You will need to build good client relationships, as referrals are essential when you’re starting out. You will be on-the-go a lot so you will need some transport, but your home will make the ideal base for other admin.


Beauty industry


From bloggers and brands to hairdressers and nail technicians, there’s a whole world of opportunity to go self-employed and work from home in the beauty industry.


You could become a freelance makeup artist at fashion shows and weddings or start at hairdressing business doing home appointments. This can be an extremely competitive industry, so make sure you have a strong personal brand and put time into building a local social media presence.


Technology sector


A tech expert’s job revolves around the use of digital tools and technology, so you’ll be the perfect candidate for starting a business from home.


Whether you’re a web consultant, app developer or digital marketing expert, you’ll feel right at home with virtual client calls and day-to-day desk work.


Accounting and finance


Fiscal management is an important part of any business, so it is no surprise that accounting firms were named one of the most profitable small businesses by Sageworks in 2018.


Accounting, bookkeeping and tax preparation can be done from the comfort of your own home – a terrific way to reduce overhead start-up costs.


Work from home business ideas

Alongside professions and industries, you can also look at popular types of small businesses for inspiration. Here are some of the business models you can run from home:


Buy and sell


Many successful businesses have started with a simple buy and sell model. You might stumble across a niche item which could appeal to a specific market.


You can then take this opportunity to resell the individual products for a profit. Use e-retailers like eBay and Depop to create your online shopfront and build your brand from there.


Online consultancy


Make the most of your web development, marketing, management or sales expertise by becoming an online consultant. Reach out to other small businesses and bigger clients to give them a sneak preview of how you can help transform their company presence.


This is a great option if you favour flexible hours and prefer to work on a project-by-project basis.


Teach classes


From tutoring to training webinars, virtual classes can be a unique and rewarding home career. You can create a class which utilises your knowledge and experience, though it is worth noting that webinars are particularly popular in the technology, marketing, and finance sectors.


This type of business is a great option for stay-at-home parents, as you can fit classes around school hours. Once you have established yourself as a thought leader in your field, you can start to feature affiliate products and offer additional services, like one-on-one sessions or consulting.  


Sell homemade products


With the rise of online shopping and boom of support for small retailers, there is no better time to start a small business selling your homemade products. Whether you have a passion for digital art, love repurposing old furniture or have started making your own jewellery, you can transform your hobby into a small business.


Use online retailers like Etsy and Not On The High Street, or affordable shopfronts like Big Cartel – this way the start-up costs can go into your products and packaging.


Start a social media business 


Set yourself up as a social media manager, working with companies and influencers to run their social media accounts. You will need experience of creating and upholding a strong brand across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


5 Tips for setting up a business from home

Now you have had time to think about your work from home business idea, you’ll need to start making a business plan. Check out our top 5 tips for setting up a business from home:


1. Do something you love


Following a passion gets you through the stress of starting up your own business. The first year can be intense as you learn the legal and financial side of starting a business, so it’s important you believe in what you’re doing.


2. Ask for help


Never be afraid to ask those around you for help, whether that’s family, friends, lawyers, or industry experts. You could even ask other small businesses for tips and advice, which in turn could lead to exciting joint projects.


3. Educate yourself


One of the biggest perks of living in the digital age is that we have access to all kinds of knowledge. Conduct market research on competitors and potential target audiences, take online courses about managing finances and keep up to date on the latest legal developments in your chosen industry.


4. Trust your abilities


Nearly everyone experiences imposter syndrome at some point during their career, so don’t feel discouraged if you start doubting yourself or your business. Try to remind yourself why you started the business in the first place and believe in your passion and your abilities – you have every right to be in this space.


5. Stay organised 


As a new small business owner, you’ll quickly find that organisation is the key to a productive business. Calendars, to-do lists, and document management systems will soon become your best friends, along with a tidy home workspace.


Planning and organisation in your home office

From the moment you decide to start your small business from home, it’s important to be well organised. Having your own systems in place for planning, client data and business finances, will ensure you are productive and ultimately reduce your stress levels down the line. 


Depending on how you work best, you might prefer to have this in one central location or use both digital and paper systems for tracking your self-employed accounts, expenses, projects and deadlines. Make sure you have a full overview and are aware of GDPR guidelines for storing and using customer data.


Common mistakes and how to avoid them

In this section, we’ll talk you through some of the most familiar challenges of being self-employed and mistakes you can make when starting a business from home:


  • Data security. When you become self-employed, you lose the luxury of a dedicated IT department. So, it is vital you set up a software system to protect your computer and data from viruses and security threats. To avoid losing any files, you should backup your computer on a regular basis – at least once a week.


  • A confusing document system. Record-keeping is a vital part of owning your own business, so the last thing you want is a confusing document filing system. You’ll need to keep records of all sales, income, expenses and grants, along with additional proof – such as receipts, bank statements and invoices. Make sure you plan your system in advance, so you don’t have any hiccups.


  • Not putting yourself out there. While you might feel like a small fish in a big pond, it is important to be confident with your small business and get your name out there. Reach out to potential clients and get creative with reaching new customers – social media is an amazing tool to use for this.


  • Work life balance. When you start your own business from home, it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement and forget to set boundaries. To ensure you keep a healthy work-life balance, we recommend creating a separate workspace from your everyday living area. You should also set yourself office hours with regular breaks and take work-free holidays to avoid burning out.


  • Taxes. As a self-employed person, you will now have to complete your own tax returns. This can be quite daunting at first, but you will find lots of guidance on the website. If you make a mistake on your self-assessment, you will need to update your tax return – you can make an amendment online or post the corrected pages to HMRC.


Tools and resources to help you get started

To help you start your business from home, we have rounded up some of the best tools and resources you can use to build your presence online and get organised. 


Cloud storage

Keep all your files, records, and paperwork in one place with Cloud storage, for easy access and extra security. Adobe Acrobat lets you collaborate with clients securely, using the edit and share functions. It also has a sign feature which makes remote contract and invoice signing simple.


Business analysis tools

Knowing the numbers is a fantastic way to monitor your progress as you start to lay the foundations for your business. Tools like Google Analytics allow you to track your traffic, analyse your sales figures and find out more about your audience. This helps inform future business decisions and allows you to create case studies for client pitches.


Email & video chat software

You will need to set up a direct line of contact between yourself and clients. You can use email for official communications which need to be documented in writing.


You will also need video chat software, like Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom. Incorporating regular video meetings with clients helps to build relationships and trust, recreating the personal feel of face-to-face meetings.


Social media

Social media is a wonderful way to reach potential clients and customers, but it can easily distract you from the day-to-day working of your business. Systems like Hootsuite let you manage multiple platforms at once, create posts in advance and stagger them over a period. That way, you do not need to be glued to your phone 24/7.


Once you have customers and clients on your database, you can also use software like Mailchimp to send regular newsletters, emails and offers to retain customers.


Website / blogging platform

When creating your website or blog, the hardest decision is choosing which platform to use. WordPress lets you choose between a free and self-hosted version, depending on what you’ll be using your company blog for.  


Other popular platforms for new websites and blogs are Go Daddy, Squarespace, Weebly and Wix. Both offer plenty of templates, widgets, and image tools for first-time website creators.


Why start a business from home?

Setting up a business from home gives you the opportunity to take control of your workload, focus on your passion and create a business you are proud of.


But before you make that jump, you need to consider start-up costs, whether solo working is for you and the impact of losing employee benefits. You will also need to make sure you have all the necessary equipment and can create a suitable workspace, while still maintaining a healthy work-life balance.


After taking time to think things through, you’ll feel more confident in your final decision and may even be on your way to starting a business from home.

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