How to Start a Business Working from Home

How to Start a Business Working from Home

Thinking about starting up a business working from home, but not sure where to start? New Zealand has many successful home based businesses and there's no reason why your one can't be the next! We're in the business of helping other NZ based business owners grow and we'd love for you to come along with us - for free! We're going to share with you the steps to take when starting a work at home business, including how to navigate the selling of your products.

Brainstorming Home Based Business Ideas

Many stay at home Mums (and Dads) choose to handmake products they themselves love and find useful. This is one of the easiest and quickest type of business to get off the ground. But before you take the leap, you have to narrow down your focus. Think about:

  • what product(s) would you like to sell?
  • what are you good at making?
  • who do you think will buy your products?
  • where will you sell your products?
  • how and when will you make your products?
  • where will you get the materials for making your products from?

Answering these questions will help you in both in the planning and building of your new business.

Researching Your Product Ideas

You've nailed down some handmade products you'd like to sell for your new home based business. It's time to do some R&D or research and development for them now. This is a very important step because it will let you know if your business ideas are going to be successful. Researching involves you looking around at products like yours. Find out if they are being sold, who is selling them, how much they are selling for and how they are being sold (Facebook, website, markets etc). You are trying to find out the answers to:

  • are people willing to buy my product?
  • how much would they pay for my product?
  • can I make enough profit selling my product?
  • is my product already for sale somewhere else?
  • what makes my product better/different than one already for sale?
  • where are my competitor's products being sold?
  • can my product be shipped NZ wide, worldwide or only locally?
  • what is the cost of shipping?

Next comes the development of your products. You've probably already made a few, but now is the time to refine them further. Are there any ways in which you could reduce the cost of the materials you use? Could you make them faster by doing something different? What colours, sizes and any other options will the product be available in for purchase? How are you going to package the product and what is the cost of this?

From here, you should be thinking about writing a business plan. Yes, we know it's probably not something you want to do, but it's going to help you build a sustainable business you will be proud of. Every business needs one, big or small, including your working from home business! There are lots of free tools online you can use to write your business plan. One of the easiest we have found is available free on the Ministry of Business' website.

Choosing Your Business Name

Now we're heading into the really fun stuff. Picking your business name is important. It's what your customers are going to know you by and how they are going to find you online. To come up with a name, brainstorm all your ideas on a piece of paper. It doesn't matter what you write, as often just seeing words written down will spark an idea. Some parents name their business after their child, others after their product. Some invent a new word altogether for their business name. It's up to you, but take your time. It's probably worth sharing your ideas with your friends and family to see what they think and if they have any other suggestions.

Once you've narrowed down the possibilities, it's time to check that your business name isn't being used by someone else. ONECheck is a quick way of searching to learn if your name is a registered trademark, the domain name availability, social media account availablity and if it is a registered company. If you use the same or a similar name to another business, you can get into trouble legally. So it's best to be 100% original and choose a name which is not used or registered anywhere.

Decide on Your Business Structure

This step involves making some decisions about how your business will be structured. In NZ, there are three common structures you can use - sole trader (which is what most home based businesses are), partnership or company. Being a sole trader is the cheapest and fastest option. As your business grows, you can change the structure into a company or partnership. You can find out more about your business structure options on the Ministry of Business' website, including info on getting a business number and registering your business.

Get Your Domain Name Sorted

Your domain name or URL is the address someone enters into a search engine, like Google, to find your business. It's your web address and to have a live website on the internet, you need a domain name. Your domain name is unique - no one else can have the same as you. You can also use your domain name for an email address too.

When choosing a domain name, you are best to stick with your business name - which is why you used ONECheck to see if it was available. If you are selling only in New Zealand, choosing a .co.nz or a .nz suffix on the end of your domain name is best. This shows search engines (and your customers) that you are based in NZ. If you are selling worldwide, then a .com may be more appropriate.

Short domain names are best, as are ones which are easy to spell and don't have any hyphens or characters in them. It's best to purchase your domain name from the same place where you are going to have your website hosted. We recommend Website World,who are a NZ owned and operated business, for your domain name purchases. As well as selling domain names, they also can host your website and have a free website builder for you to design your new website with.

Get Your Website Sorted

Next it's time to get your eCommerce website sorted (eCommerce just means that it's an online shop).Website World offer monthly hosting starting from just $10, but you don't need to pay anything until it goes live. They also have a free 30 day trial where you can design your new website and load your products without paying a cent. You can get your free website trial going now ad if you need more time, they can extend it for you for free too!

When you are building your website, as well as doing the design work, you also need to think about the content for it. A simple eCommerce website should have these pages:

  • home page
  • about page
  • shop page - where your products can be broken down into categories
  • contact page
  • terms and conditions page
  • website privacy page

You'll also need to think about SEO or search engine optimisation, to help your website be found by Google and other search engines. We'll help you with this another time though.

Get Your Social Media Sorted

Social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook are ideal places to showcase your products and gain new customers. Sign up for business accounts on the sites your potential customers are already using. Spend time creating regular posts, sharing photos and engaging with your audience to build up a following. Make sure you include links to your products on your website so customers know how to buy them. It's also important that on your website you have links to your social media accounts, plus a way for customers to share what they see with their friends on social media.

Now you've got your business up and running, it's time to work on your marketing to get your name out there! Joining a free online business networking group is one way you can promote your business and get help if you get stuck. We suggest joining the Business Networking NZ Facebook group, which is just for NZ business owners of all sizes and business types. Make sure you grab your free directory listing on the Business Networking NZ website too!

Posted: Friday 15 June 2018