Thinking about starting a business from your home? You might be on to something. Our small business team members at M&T are big fans of home-based business opportunities. Whether you plan to grow into a storefront down the road or remain at home forever, here are a few thought starters from our team to help you get started, reach your goals and plan for the future.

Benefits of a home business

Benefits of starting a home-based business

Running a business from your home can be great for when you’re just getting started. Here's why.  

Costs. Starting your business at home and expanding down the road can be great from a financial perspective. You're avoiding extra rent and overhead costs during a time when you're spending a lot of money on supplies and equipment to get started. There are also more tax deductions you may be eligible for with a home-based business.

Risk. It can be less of a risk to start your business at home as you're not binding yourself to a lease or rental agreement or taking out a building loan before you're confident your business will be successful.

Work-life balance. Many owners spend a huge part of their days at their businesses. They have to drop everything when something goes wrong and are usually working well beyond a 40-hour work week – especially as they get started. Working from home allows you to be, well, at home more. Even just 15 minutes to be with your dog outside or have lunch with your family can be invaluable. Plus, you can easily enlist some help from family members when you're in a bind versus hiring an employee you only need on occasion.

Building a home-based business plan

Successful businesses start with the idea AND the plan. A business plan is like your map – it gives you a 360-degree look at your business, calls out short and long-term goals and helps get buy-in from investors. Here are ten business plan prompts to help you structure and steer your business. You're totally grabbing a notebook and filling these out along the way, aren't you? You go-getter, you!

  1. Create a scannable summary for busy investors that includes your mission, vision, goals, products or services, target audience, financial status, marketing strategy, expected earnings, team, environment and what you're asking for.
  2. Introduce yourself and share what you believe this business will be able to do – bonus points for points of differentiation.
  3. Share a market analysis showcasing that your market has enough customers who would be interested and isn't saturated with competitors. Do a SWOT analysis with strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats you expect your business to have.
Building a plan

5. Share your legal structure. Will this be an S corporation, a limited partnership, a proprietorship?

6. Identify key details about your products and services. Why will these be profitable and where will they be coming from?

7. Introduce your ideal customer. How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do? How do they spend?

8. Give an overview of your marketing plans. What social platforms does your target audience favor? How will you advertise your opening and business thereafter?

9. Share your workflow. Will you have suppliers, equipment, inventory, shipping, etc.? What does your typical workday look like?

10. Include a financial plan. How much do you expect to make every month or year and what are your expenses? Investors need to see that your business has the potential to make money.

For great up-to-date business plan formats and templates, check out this resource from the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

Beginning the legal process

At-home businesses need to have a business license, legal entity and all proper paperwork in place. You should work with an experienced attorney in this area to help achieve your license, ensure you're choosing the best entity and help explain and complete all legal paperwork correctly.

Location, location, location

You may be thinking, "I'm running an online business, I don't need to worry about location because no one is going to come to my house." Well, that's not entirely true. It's important to note that you need to comply with local and federal government business regulations. You may not be able to sell certain products based on your home's zoning or be permitted to keep inventory based on your home's size. Your local town hall can help with zoning, permits, regulations and more information on what your business can and cannot do. 

Opening an account

Opening a small business bank account

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal finances helps to identify how much you're spending each month and makes tax season much easier. Consider setting up a checking account to keep your cash flow in and a savings account for future goals, taxes and unexpected expenses that will come up.

A small business banking team can help with your financial needs along the way and identify available loans and grants for your business. Creating a relationship with one bank now also helps when the unexpected comes along as they'll have more background on your business and you'll have more credibility.

M&T specializes in small business banking. Our local teams and unique products and services are always here to help your business reach its goals. #Humblebrag

Determining if and when it's time to open a location

If your inventory and equipment is getting in the way of the lives of the people in your home or no longer fits in a way that allows you to work efficiently, it may be time to look for a space. Another easy indicator is the need for more staff.

If the day comes when you feel like your business has outgrown your home and you think it's time to open the storefront of your dreams, you'll likely have a cushion of savings and loyal clientele to make you feel comfortable and confident in making it happen. You'll also have a better idea of what your space needs and how work should flow! Make sure to reexplore your business plan with your new location in mind – it's tedious we know, but it's totally worth it.

You know what they say, home-based business is where the heart is! Let us know when the business warming is, we'll bring a gift!