When you want to start a home business, it can be easy to feel alone, confused, and scared. The chances are that you don’t know anyone else who’s ever started a business, and you don’t even know who to ask if you get stuck. Here are a few things you ought to be looking at.
The Internet is a great resource for people who are thinking of setting up a home business – as well as all the articles you can find with practical advice, there are also many forums, where you can read about others’ experiences, and ask questions.
Scary as it might seem to be getting advice on anything from the government, most governments go really out of their way to produce all sorts of easy-to-understand material on starting your own business. Encouraging you in business is a great way for them to both strengthen the economy and increase tax revenues.
Depending on your area, you might find that local government agencies are also keen to give you help and advice, and might even have some kind of ‘small business centre’ that you can visit.
Mentors are usually volunteers who think it would be nice to offer local businesses help and advice. They often have years of business experience, and can be really useful – if you find one, hang on to them.
Always willing to help and sadly neglected in our ‘wired’ age, you really should talk to a librarian. Libraries generally contain all sorts of business books and resources that they’ll be able to point you towards, and they’ll be more than happy to do research into obscure areas for you.
Pricey as they might be, lawyers know all about starting businesses – they’ve almost certainly done it thousands of times over. It can be well worth paying for an hour of a lawyer’s time and just asking them every question you can think of.
A less expensive alternative to lawyers, accountants also know their stuff, especially (obviously) on the financial side. If you want your business to be profitable, you should take on board what your accountant tells you – and if you don’t have one, you should get one. By the time they’ve helped you navigate through all the tax mazes, they’ll almost certainly have made their fee back for you anyway.
Incubators and Investors.
If you think your business would be an attractive proposal to people who back businesses for a living, then you can try going to a ‘business incubator’ or some other kind of investor with your idea. If they like it, they’ll often have a quick process set up to get your company up and running as soon as possible.
Here’s an interesting one: universities are full of business students. They’ve all spent ages learning about nothing but business, and many of them would just love to help get a real one off the ground – it’d look great on their CV, after all. Business students can be a great source of free help and advice, and they’ll probably even be thankful to you for letting them help out!
If you do a course to get a formal qualification in what you want to do before starting the business, you’ll probably find that your teacher is also a good resource on the business side of things. They’ll have had plenty of students starting businesses who’ve asked them similar questions, and they might even have prepared some material to give to anyone who asks for it.
Traditionally, your bank would have been the first place you went if you were thinking of starting a business, but many people seem to ignore them nowadays. While they’re no replacement for accountants, most banks will offer you a ‘business advisor’ when you open a business account, and they can be especially helpful with the technical and financial elements of starting up.
Associations, Societies and Unions.
Whatever industry you’re thinking of entering probably has some kind of trade association, society or union. You should join as soon as you can, and take advantage of all the resources that they will almost certainly offer to people wanting to get started in their industry. After all, the more people who are in their industry, the more members they can get.