There’s a science to launching a home business.
It’s not something you can just do on a whim. While it might look like your friends and neighbors have turned their hobbies into entrepreneurial dreams overnight, it actually takes months of planning to build a business that can survive early tests and provide a truly innovative and unique service people will feel encouraged to get behind.
While there are many steps you must take to launch a successful home business, we have defined four we think are essential for making sure you can get your work from home vision off the ground.
Do your research
The launch of a home business is only as strong as the research that preceded it.
You wouldn’t start a new job or embark on a new project without doing some research first, so why would you when it comes to starting a home business?
In the early days, a home business is often a very individual effort, so you need to have a solid understanding of the market you’re entering into and how to best position your business for success and potential growth. Research can take many forms, but it’s best to look at what products and services are gaining the most traction online. Tools such as Google Trends can be brilliant for finding indicators of this, and help make sure you’re not behind the curve in terms of audience interest by the time your home business launches.
It’s equally important you understand what your potential competitors are doing and how they’re appealing to customer interests and habits. Explore their websites, content output and social media pages to decipher how they’re connecting with an audience base. As much as competitor analysis can help dictate a successful strategy, it can also point out what they’re doing wrong and where there may be a potential gap in the market.
Research also means taking advantage of the abundance of tools out there for small and home businesses of all types. There are a number of free and accessible courses out there that are specifically geared towards helping the layman get to grips with business.
Bplans is a good place to start. Featuring an array of articles and guides that cover everything from pitching and funding to project management and tools, it’s a comprehensive resource that teaches everything from the basics upwards.
If you prefer a more hands-on approach to research, look for online courses instead. These teach you the basics of home business through simple, intuitive videos led by seasoned experts.
Whether you’re getting into ecommerce or exploring SaaS options, there is a significant number of professional guides and tools to help guide you through the early stages of developing a home business.
Research should be the starting point of everything within your home business. Your core idea, the presentation of it and the initial actions of your business should all be a product of what your research is telling you about the present market and attitudes towards it.
Have a business plan
Without a solid plan, a home business can quickly descend into chaos.
Business plans are an essential step in developing an enterprise of any size for a reason. They guide your budget, create clear goals to work towards and keep you on a safe track that won’t risk the health of your business. If you have a solid business plan prior to launch, you’re much more likely to see healthy growth and make decisions that help the long term future of the business.
Businesses can grow at unexpected rates. While that might go against what is in your initial plan, it can act as a framework that helps you budget on the fly and see to what degree you are ahead or behind on your targets. It has been shown that small businesses with a plan can often grow up to 30% faster than those without one, often due to heightened confidence towards spending decisions.
Furthermore, should you wish to expand your home business and grow it into a full-time enterprise, having a business plan that you consistently tweak and develop can make you a much more appealing prospect to potential investors. Home businesses without a plan can appear comfortable in their space and lacking in ambition.
Build your website
If you don’t think every modern business, home-sized or not, needs a website, then you may need to re-evaluate your understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
A home business is only really launched when its website is. Your website will act as the face of your business, a virtual shop front where people can browse your products, learn about your services and explore the unique story that gets them hooked on you. A website can be something as professional and straightforward as a digital marketplace or a space within which you explain the ethos of your business and its place in the world.
In practical terms, other than social media, your website will be the main space in which your audience learns about you, builds communities and develops an interest in what you’re doing.
Before you launch your website you need to make sure it is both fit for purpose and offering something unique. To a certain extent, you need to play to the conventions of your market and those set by your competitors. If you’re running a home store for example you need to give customers the options and safe payment processes they’re familiar with. It needs to be thoroughly tested to make sure it’s usable for even less internet-savvy visitors and optimized for preferred platforms, such as mobile.
The difficulties that come with mastering these details are why many first-time home business owners will opt to use a template website builder or sell through an affiliate site, rather than try and forge their own bespoke creation that may throw up more problems of its own that stall initial growth.
Define your USP
It’s not unique to be a home business anymore. Even before the coronavirus pandemic gave everyone entrepreneurial dreams and turned spare rooms into bases for craft projects, home businesses were becoming a common trend. The ones that have succeeded did so because they had a strong unique selling point.
In truth, every business needs a USP of some kind. This can be anything from innovative software that simplifies an everyday issue slowing down the office to just how a business handles its customer service. Unique selling points don’t always need to think outside the box, sometimes they can just tweak the box’s appearance.
Your USP will be the hook that averts consumer’s glance away from competitors and brings them towards your website to learn more. On top of that, it acts as a brilliant focus for your content, advertising and social media output, giving you something that sets your apart on crowded platforms and customers to praise about your business that helps word of it spread naturally.
While it might not seem as literal a step towards launching as developing a website or defining a product range, a USP (and how you promote it) should always be a prominent concern prior to sending your home business out into the world.
If it feels like everyone you know is starting a home business, get used to it. The idea is going from strength to strength, as people are more drawn to working remotely and inspired to follow gaps in the market and passion projects. If you feel that itch make sure you’re marking these points off on your checklist before you launch.