We may earn an affiliate commission from partner links on the Entrepreneur Guide. These do not affect our editors’ opinions.
A total of 4.4 million new business applications were filed in 2020, which set a new record. In 2021, the record would be shattered as 5.4 million such applications were filed. Naturally, there was a slight cooling-off period in 2022, but that means more than 10 million businesses have been started since the pandemic began.
If you’re thinking of riding this wave of independent business formations, then there are a few things that you should know first. You will be assuming many risks and responsibilities by trying to start a new business.
- 7 steps for starting a business from home
- Take the chance to chase your dreams
7 steps for starting a business from home
The good news is that the path has been created by centuries of trailblazing merchants. You can seize the opportunity to start your own business and pursue your financial goals by completing a few steps.
- Determine your business purpose.
- Figure out your product.
- Identify your target market.
- Research the competition.
- Choose a name for your business and products.
- Create a general business plan.
- Establish a legal structure.
Finding a physical location is one of the most expensive aspects of starting a business. Commercial real estate has several pros and cons, so be prepared. Even after you’ve found the perfect spot, you’ll need a lot of startup cash to buy it.
On the other hand, you could simply start your business from a home office and deal with physical locations down the road. Nearly 50 percent of all companies are run from home, so there isn’t much of a disadvantage—depending on your industry. The money you save launching your business at home could be the difference between success and failure.
The following list includes a few general steps for starting a business from home. We’ve got everything you’ll need if you’re looking for a highly detailed step-by-step guide. These seven steps can give you a brief idea of what to expect during the early stages of your new business:
1. Determine your business purpose
Every business has a purpose—for hamburger stands, it’s feeding hungry people. Hair salons are supposed to stylize hair, and dog walking agencies walk dogs. You get the idea.
The first thing you’ll need to do is develop a purpose for your business similar to these examples. The easiest way to do that is to identify a problem and then offer a solution. “If X is an issue for you, you’ll need Y to handle it.” Once you figure that out, you’ve got your business idea.
Alternatively, you could attempt to improve existing solutions to problems. If you think you can cook a better burger, style hair more appealingly, or walk dogs more satisfyingly, you can open a rival business and let the customers decide for themselves.
2. Figure out your product
Once you’ve determined your business purpose, you should have a pretty good idea of your product. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical product. It can be a service or specialty that you offer. Mowing lawns or teaching piano lessons are a few examples of non-physical business products.
If you decide to produce a product, you’ll need to figure out what type of product it will be. There are four product classifications for consumer goods, including:
- Convenience. Items that a customer will repeatedly purchase without thinking much about it. For example, toothpaste, milk, toilet paper, and ketchup.
- Shopping. A customer might spend a little more time thinking about items before buying—for example, clothing, home decorations, furniture, and phones.
- Specialty. Items a customer needs for a specific purpose that doesn’t have a large market. For example, high fashion clothing, luxury cars, exotic perfumes, and unique art.
- Unsought. Items people aren’t particularly eager to buy but are necessary to own—for example, batteries, fire extinguishers, and funeral services.
3. Identify your target market
Customers are the key to any successful business. Without a steady supply of customers buying your product, your business won’t last long. A business’s target market is the group of individuals, households, and organizations that are most likely to buy your product.
Here are the four different categories that can determine the target market for your business:
- Geographic. These customers are categorized based on their city, state, or general area. The products best suited for them are based on their physical location, such as surfboards sold at a beach, knitted gloves sold in the mountains, and waterproof boots sold near a swamp.
- Demographic. These customers are categorized based on age, gender, race, religion, education, marital status, parental status, economic level, etc. The products best suited for them are based on specific traits such as beer sold to adults over 21, diapers sold to parents, and canes sold to the elderly.
- Psychographic. These customers are categorized based on who they are as individuals, such as their personality type, hobbies, beliefs, values, and attitudes. The products best suited for them will line up with their personality traits, such as software sold to gamers, spiritual artwork sold to religious people, and tattoos sold to rebellious types.
- Behavioral. These customers are categorized based on their spending habits and web browsing activities. The products best suited for them are items similar to the ones they’ve previously purchased or frequently search for online.
4. Research the competition
Competition is the name of the game in the world of business. Either you are offering a product/service that will directly compete with an established business, or an established company will soon offer a product/service that will directly compete with you.
The key to staying on top during these inevitable clashes is thoroughly researching the competition. You need to know everything you can about your rivals to offer a product/service that’s more effective, less expensive, and hits the market earlier.
Not only will this give you great insight into your customer base, but it’ll also help you better understand startup costs and industry know-how.
5. Choose a name for your business and products
It’s impossible to overstate a name’s importance to businesses and products. Just think of the word Google. It went from being a nonsensical word to becoming a search engine, breaking records for profit margins, and is now a verb in the dictionary.
You’ll need to develop a business name and product names that capture the attention of your target market. Remember that it’s the first reference point for customers, competitors, and your employees.
First impressions carry an unfathomable amount of influence in the business world.
Brainstorm and think about your target audience. What are potential customers interested in? What name can you give your business to make it stand out?
6. Create a general business plan
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a detailed business plan encompassing decades of growth. A general business plan that projects just a few years ahead is more than enough to get started. You’re still in the early phases of your business, and a lot will change quickly.
The key things to include in your business plan are an outline that spells out your business’s mission, specific actions you intend to take to generate a profit, and market analysis to show interest in your product.
While you need a vision, there’s no need to be bogged down with providing extremely meticulous details. For example, you might want to outline a marketing strategy, but you shouldn’t get too into the weeds.
It doesn’t matter if you’d rather do digital marketing with great SEO or if you’d rather focus on social media and affiliate marketing.
These are questions to answer as you scale your home business into the type of business entity to be reckoned with. For now, you want to focus on your business structure and business model, and don’t get overwhelmed.
7. Establish a legal structure
The legal aspect of starting a business can be overwhelming for new business owners. You might need to enlist the help of a business attorney to ensure that you’ve properly registered your business and applied for all the necessary licenses and permits. Failure to comply with the law can land you in hot water financially and judicially.
On top of those legal hurdles, you’ll also need to select a legal structure for your business:
- Sole proprietorships are when the business and owner are considered the same for tax purposes. You would assume personal and financial liabilities for the company and any potential debts.
- General partnerships are when two or more people unite to operate a business. Each individual will contribute various assets to the company, assume liability for the industry, and be entitled to a share of the profits.
- Limited liability companies (LLCs) limit the amount of personal liability the owner has for business debts. An LLC can be owned by an individual, a group of individuals, or a conglomeration of other businesses.
- C-Corporations function in a very similar way to an LLC but with different tax obligations and regulations. These are typically reserved for large-scale businesses and are unlikely to apply to most startups.
Take the chance to chase your dreams
Starting a new business is time-consuming. It’s not something that you just dive right into and hope for the best. Slowly build your business piece by piece, even if it takes months or years to complete. Rushing into starting a business can lead to deep debt in a short amount of time.
Complete the steps listed above to get your business started. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for operating a business. You’ll need to learn so much more before you can take the next step and grow your business into a successful one.
Information provided on Entrepreneur Guide is for educational purposes only. Your financial situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer financial advice, advisory or brokerage services, we do not recommend or advise individuals to buy or sell particular stocks or securities. Performance information may have changed since the time of publication. Past performance is not indicative of future results