Make it official
Now that you’ve made space for your business in your home and opened your bank account, it’s time to officially bring your business to life. This is the not-so-fun and kind-of-daunting part. There are a few things you need to do to comply with legal requirements and tax laws. It’s a good idea to enlist the help of an expert as you prepare to tackle these steps. Business consulting from The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) is always free.
1. Check local zoning laws
In some residential areas, local zoning laws prohibit all types of businesses. Residential zoning laws often allow small, home-based businesses to operate as long as the home is primarily a residence and business activities won’t negatively impact neighbours. It’s a good idea to check your Local Authority’s Municipal Planning By-Laws (which in turn are informed and governed by the Land Planning and Ordinance Act) before you launch, just in case. If you live in a neighbourhood with a homeowner’s association, you’ll want to make sure they don’t impose restrictions on home businesses. And if you’re renting, you’ll want to read your lease agreement. Your landlord might not support your pet sitting business.
Additionally, your business may need permits to operate. You may require a sign permit if you choose to display a sign in your yard or in your house. If you plan on renovating your home to accommodate your business, you might need a building permit.
Depending on the type of business you open, you may need additional permits. For example, if you're planning to open an in-home daycare, you might need a health permit , insurance or a Certificate of Compliance for Food Preparation.
Here’s the fun part: you might not be able to obtain all the permits you need in one place (or even know where to start). A business expert, like an Early Childhood Development centre , can help—or, at the very least, point you in the right direction.
2. Register your business
If you’re planning to operate as “self-employed,” you’re not required to register your business. But you run the risk of missing out on tax benefits and personal liability protection if you don’t. If you decide to register as self-employed (or as a “sole proprietorship”), you’ll report your business income on your Income Tax Return (ITR12). Sole proprietors enjoy some of the lowest tax rates but, because you and your business are the same entity, you can be held personally liable for business debts. As always, there are pros and cons for every business registration. Choosing how to register your business can be tricky, but your local Seda can help you choose the right business structure and register correctly.
Outside of registering your business, you might also need to apply for a business license if your operation includes the sale or supply of meals, if you offer health or entertainment services, or if meals are being hawked. A business license allows you to establish a particular business in a specified area. The license also ensures that your business and the business premises meet all of the building regulations, public safety and health requirements.. If you’re operating as a sole proprietor, you might not need a business license, but it’s always a good idea to double-check. If you’re going to collect sales tax, you may need a VAT registration certificate . Get more information from your local Department of Revenue (SARS).
Finally, you’ll want to apply for a company registration number . This number is assigned by CIPC to identify your business. A company registration may vary between R125 and R475 (R125 for a private company, R475 for a non-profit company registered without members). If you choose not to register your business, registering for a Personal Income Tax (PIT)is still a worthwhile step.
3. Invest in business insurance
It’s a good idea for any small business to think about general liability insurance. This type of business insurance policy protects you if someone makes a claim against your business for injury or property damage. It also protects you if you accidentally damage someone else's property. For example, if you start a housecleaning business and accidentally break something, you're covered.
You might need to reassess your homeowner's insurance as well. Your policy might not cover the costs related to operating a home-based business. If something happens to your home, you’ll want to make sure you can recover the losses from your business as well.