One of the most exciting and daunting things about starting your own home-based business as your sole means of income is the reality that no one is RESPONSIBLE for your success or failure but YOU. The lure of the home-based business is undeniable. But before joining the revolution, take the time to think about the real IMPLICATIONS of self-responsibility.
YOU ARE NOT A MACHINE
No matter how much you've invested in setting up your business, nothing is more valuable to your business or to you as your good health. Regular breaks are important for your PHYSICAL and MENTAL health, not to mention your productivity. Breaks can be particularly important if your livelihood requires you to spend hours on end in front of a computer. The last thing you or your business needs is for you to develop carpal tunnel syndrome!
TAKE A REAL BREAK
Avoid the temptation to do household chores or errands on your break time. That's not a break. Do something that breaks the mental spell, something that gets you out of your work ENVIRONMENT for fifteen minutes every couple of hours. Go wander around outside. Lift weights. Call a friend. Set an alarm to remind yourself if you must. And if you find yourself feeling sleepy mid-afternoon, take an hour's nap. A nap will do wonders for your productivity and you will be REFRESHED and ready to get back to work.
HOME ALONE SECURITY
Security is an issue for any home-based worker. Apart from PERSONAL security which is always an issue for everyone wherever they work, the home-based office with its usual array of expensive computer and other office equipment, and heaven knows whatever else electronic gadgetry is a prime target for BURGLARY. So take these basic precautions:
PROPERTY AND LIABILITY INSURANCE
Don't rely on your HOMEOWNER'S insurance to cover your business. Most policies limit loss of business property to $2,500 and don't cover losses away from the home. So ensure you obtain business insurance separate from your homeowner's policy or, if your insurance company offers it, an endorsement to your existing policies. PROPERTY insurance covers your physical assets -- furniture and equipment, inventory and supplies, etc. And LIABILITY insurance covers you for accidental injuries sustained by business visitors, errors and omissions, or damage caused to a third party as a result of a defective product.
HEALTH AND DISABILITY INSURANCE
Check with any trade or professional associations of which you are a member for health insurance PACKAGES. Many such associations will have negotiated insurance packages for their members and this can be a good way of getting good cover for a cost-effective price. Other types of insurance to consider are disability insurance in case you can't work due to illness or disability and workers' compensation (remember, you are an employee of your business). Depending on your personal situation, you may also want to consider KEY MAN insurance which protects your business in the event of your death. The business becomes the beneficiary under this type of policy and this cover is intended to enable the business to replace you.
BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE
This type of insurance covers your lost PROFITS as a result of some insured event which makes it impossible for you to carry on your business such as a fire or flood.
One expenditure you should definitely not try and avoid is an accountant to prepare your taxes. There are many home office tax DEDUCTIONS available but they are scrutinized carefully by the Internal Revenue Service, so make sure you get professional help in this area. The types of deductions available to the home business owner include a proportion of your housing costs and expenses if you use a part of your home EXCLUSIVELY for your business; use of your car for business purposes; health insurance; postage; trade magazines and other business-related publications; and capital equipment.
The best way to save money on accountant's fees is to keep accurate, organized, and COMPLETE records. Keep your receipts organized so that when tax time comes you can hand everything over to your accountant in a nice neat package. In addition, do not hesitate to contact your accountant for advice if and when you intend to take on EMPLOYEES. A whole slew of responsibilities goes along with employing others in your business including withholding tax and social security benefits and workers' compensation to name just a couple.
Zoning laws can be INCONSISTENT so just because your friend Dave can run a business out of his garage in town X doesn't mean you can do the same thing here in town Y. Some municipalities will give you a hard time if you're receiving clients on the premises but will turn a blind eye if you're not. Others focus on the detriment your business causes to the amenity of your neighbors. Also, don't expect to be able to erect a SIGN in front of your house or, possibly, anywhere visible from the street advertising your business. Still other municipalities will restrict the numbers of EMPLOYEES that can be employed in the home business. So, before you start your business and invest a lot of capital in getting set up, check with your local authorities what, if any, zoning restrictions you need to be aware of.
KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT
These are just a few of the major headache areas when you cut the ties and set out on your own. By taking the time to get these things in ORDER before you get underway, you'll create a safety net for yourself and your business so that when things go wrong, as they inevitably will, your dream of a home-based business of your own will continue to be a happy reality and not a nightmare.
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ... practical ideas, resources and strategies for your home-based or online business. Visit her website at www.ahbbo.com.
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