Maybe you’ve decided you’re done working for someone else, or maybe you just want to turn a talent or passion into a second career. Whatever the reasoning behind starting your own business from the comfort of your home, it is an exciting prospect. As with any endeavour, it’s important to make a plan and set yourself up for success.
- Find Your Space
The first thing you must do when setting up a home business is set aside a specific space in your home where you will work. Maybe it’s a spare bedroom or den; maybe it’s an alcove off your living room, or maybe it’s the workbench in the garage. It might even just be a desk.
Wherever it is, make sure that it becomes synonymous with work. It’s important that you and anyone who lives with you treat your workspace as sacred. By establishing a specific room or spot where you will work, you will develop a routine and start conditioning your mind and body to associate that workspace with being productive.
- Set Up Your Space
Once you’ve gotten your workspace set aside, decide what you need around you to make you most productive. Aside from the usual paper clips, stapler and pens, here are some other items to keep in mind:
- A Comfy Desk Chair:Don’t underestimate the importance of a good chair. You’ll be spending a lot of time in it, and you don’t want to associate work with pain.
- Shelving or Filing Cabinets:How much paper does your business generate? You might be lucky enough to keep most of it digital, but inevitably you’ll find yourself surrounded by stacks of papers that you’ll need to keep. Keeping your space uncluttered is more conducive to productivity.
- Brainstorming Equipment:Some people do their best thinking with a pen and some paper; others prefer a white board and markers. How do you do your best brainstorming? Invest early in the equipment you need to spark your creativity, whether it’s a stack of notepads or a dry erase board. NOTE: There are now dry erase and chalkboard If you have an extra wall in your workspace, why not turn it into your own dry erase board?
- Get Connected
What type of communication equipment and services will you need to keep your business running smoothly? Here are few ideas:
- Desktop PC or Laptop:Depending on the type of business you run, you may want to look into upgrading your computer. If your business relies heavily on graphics and videos, it might be best to invest in a computer with a higher processing speed and more RAM to ensure it can handle that much data. Generally, you should look for a dual-core processor and a minimum 4GB of RAM (memory).
- Phone: You probably already have a cell phone, but it might be time to invest in a landline for your business as well. In addition to giving you a dedicated phone number for your business, it will allow you to reserve your cell phone for personal use or urgent business matters. It is important for people to be able to reach you, but setting some early boundaries isn’t a bad idea.
- Multifunction Printer:Most printers today are also outfitted with scanning, copying and faxing functionalities, so you can purchase one slightly more expensive machine instead of four separate ones. When looking for printers, take into account the cost of the ink as well. Depending on your business needs, you may not need a full color printer, and this can end up saving you a lot of money over time. If you have a high volume of items to print, consider investing in a laser printer or something with a higher speed. Also, keep in mind that when the need for major print jobs arise (i.e. a lot of copies, full color), you can outsource those.
- Internet Speed:You probably already have an internet service provider for recreational use, but now that you’ll be relying on that connection to do business, you might want to look into an upgrade. This is especially important if you live with other people who might be using the internet when you are trying to work. If you’re not sure where to start, Time has a 100Mbps home broadband plan that’s rated as the one of the fastest in Malaysia.
- Software:If you haven’t already, invest in the latest version of Microsoft Office. This is the most common business software on the market today, so chances are you’ll have no trouble reading or editing files and documents clients send to you and vice versa.
You might also want to look into the following depending on your business needs:
- Adobe Acrobat Professional:Allows you to edit Adobe (PDF) files as well as build PDF forms with editable fields.
- Adobe CS6 Design:Includes Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, this is one of the premiere design software suites. Adobe is now also offering a Creative Cloud solution, a monthly membership service that grants members access to Adobe software.
- Develop a Business Plan
Decide early on what exactly you’ll do to earn money and who your customers will be. One of the best ways to organize these thoughts and ideas is with a formal business plan.
There are many templates available online, but the key features of any business plan include:
- Executive Summaryincluding ownership details and overview of products and services offered
- Company Overviewincluding a mission statement and details regarding business location
- Products and Servicesdetailing how products/services meet current marketplace demand
- Market Analysis and Market Strategyoutlining target demographics and competitive overview
- Financial Overviewincluding projections, profits-and-loss analysis and sales assumptions
- Get Ready to Conduct Business
After you’ve secured some financing and developed your business plan, you’ll need to focus more intently on the details relating to your business. One of the key pieces to setting up your home-based business legally is determining what licenses or permits you may need.
One of the best online resources for researching licenses and permits you’d need in Malaysia is the BLESS portal.
Set yourself up for success by taking these early steps to create your ideal home office. By dedicating thought and consideration to your workspace, you’re already well on your way to being productive.