Practical advice for starting your own home business

A home business can put cash in your pocket and give you the satisfaction of working for yourself. We’ve found some good ideas and asked around for the best advice on starting your home business.

If having your own home business is your goal, start planning now! It may take some time, and some days will be better than others, but you could get the independence, income and personal satisfaction you’ve dreamed of.

Start with a great business idea

Every business starts with an idea. A great idea that people will pay for can turn into a good business.

A great idea:

  • Solves a problem
  • Offers something new or innovative
  • Fills a gap in the market. No one else is offering the same product or service in your area, or they are but they can’t meet demand
  • Is something you can do differently or better than what’s on offer
  • Isn’t easy to copy – you don’t want a competitor offering the same service at a lower price!
  • Reaches enough people – Robynne Erwin, consultant at Finfind, says the more people your business will help the greater chance it will be a success
  • Is something you believe in and are passionate about

Where do you find ideas?

Your friends and family
Keep your ear to the ground in your neighbourhood, workplace and social circles. Is there something everyone needs, or a service people aren’t happy with?

We all have skills and abilities. Think about how you can turn them into a home business. Your hobbies and interests are a great source of ideas too.

Finally, think about the resources you have that you could use in a business. Perhaps you have a spare car you could hire out or a spare room you could rent out.

Business consultants, organisations and websites
A bit of searching online turns up thousands of business ideas and success stories, some international and some local. See what other people are doing or selling, and whether you could adapt those ideas for your market. Instead of starting from scratch yourself, you might consider a franchise, or perhaps marketing and selling a well-known and well-regarded brand.

Here are some websites and organisations to look at for ideas, advice and tips on starting and running a business:

Research your idea

When you’ve got some ideas for your business, research further. Find information on blogs and YouTube videos, speak to people and read as much as you can.

Research your potential customers. “Live their life, understand what they expect, the wording, packaging, and more. This will be the determining factor for whether a business succeeds,” says business enabler and mentor Diane Boorman. You should also test your product or service in that market to get an idea if it works well and will sell or not.

Research your potential competitors. Who else is doing what you are thinking of doing? Is there a lot of competition? Are they successful? If you do go into that market, what can make you, your product and service special and different?

Costs and finances

When you are starting out, you’ll need to work out how much it costs to produce your product or offer your service, what your overheads are and how much profit you are going to make. Take your time on this because it is important.

You may have heard various stats that say the failure rate of small businesses is high. But not always. Keeping overheads and costs low and managing finances well is a key success factor. If you can use your existing resources – your home, your car, your laptop, your own time – you can keep overheads down. Always keep an eye on finances and if you need to, get advice or help managing your costs and accounts.

Start selling!

When you’ve got a great idea it’s time to start finding customers and selling. Marketing does take time, so look for some quick wins such as people in your community or neighbourhood who will buy your products. Set up some social media accounts and post updates regularly to keep your products top of mind.

Marketing and promoting your business is ongoing. Even when you build up a base of customers, keep looking for ways to market yourself and your product.

Get going

If you’ve always dreamed of owning your own small business, put some time into thinking about and researching your business ideas, and see if you can make that dream a reality. Good luck!

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