Text by Pat Gerbrandt
The idea of working at home may appeal in terms of flexible hours, being able to avoid commuting, and ready access to one’s own coffee machine, but the entrepreneur who plans to set up a home business needs to consider many other factors.
What is the market for the proposed service or sales venture? Opening a bed and breakfast establishment may be your fondest dream, but if you live in a low traffic area and there are already five other such facilities nearby, practicality may lead you to reconsider.
Check out the growth rate and other demographics of your community. What types of goods or services are needed? Will your business meet the demands already evident or can you confidently project there will be a need for your services?
Do you already have suitable space or will you need to do some renovations? A separate business entrance may be a good idea. Give consideration to warehouse/storage space, easy access to a bathroom, reception area, and parking. Will proximity to the family’s living area necessitate any changes? You may be comfortable with the happy sounds of children at play and the aromas of your simmering supper, and the presence of pets may be of no concern to you, but customers may have different opinions. And, if you will be responsible for young children as you work, do you have a backup plan if illness and business deadlines appear at the same time? A separate business phone line prevents calls missed due to family member’s using the phone and helps to avoid frustration for all concerned. A home-based business venture must take into account the family’s needs, and family support is crucial for the entrepreneur.
Do you have easy access to postal and delivery services? Will you need to arrange for shipping? Be sure to check out zoning regulations, necessary insurance, permits, licenses and tax considerations. Advertising costs and the price of business stationery also need to be considered. Doing your own correspondence may work well at first, but as the business grows, you may need to hire help. The services of an accountant are recommended. Be realistic in terms of your expectations. It may take three to five years before a new business venture shows a profit.
Check with your local chamber of commerce or with the Manitoba Small Business Association to see if you qualify for the discount rate on processing charge card purchases. An attractive, well managed and easy-to-navigate website is a good investment.
The Canada-Manitoba Business Centre has a wealth of information and resources for small businesses and personnel there can offer valuable assistance for business start up or expansion. Think creatively, do your research, be realistic in terms of your abilities and your commitment, and when you’ve counted the cost and decided it is time to follow your dream, summon your courage and take the first step. You will never know success unless you aim for it.