1. Think of a business name. If you need them, make sure that a suitable domain name is available (for emails and website). If you are struggling to find a name, think about using your own name – credibility is essential and your willingness to use your name will reassure potential customers. Alternatively, stick with the simplest explanation of your business that you can find. “My Bookkeeping Online” is a good example of this.
2. Set up a bank account – OK – I know I said easy but I may have stretched the truth slightly! I’m afraid not much is easy when it comes to banks. ALWAYS have a separate bank account, even for very small businesses. Using your existing personal bank should make things slightly easier.
3. Buy a wireless router and a laptop. It gives you the flexibility to work anywhere inside/ outside the house.
4. Hosting your email. Have a look at Google Apps. It is only £35 a year, and it enables you to use your business email address using the Google platform – I use it and I love it – it’s cheap, and of course, accessible from anywhere.
5. Commission a website – look for a company that will build it and “optimise” it for you at the same time. By optimise, I mean give it the best chance of appearing in the free searches in Google when someone searches for a product/service you sell.
6. Install a separate telephone line – or have a separate mobile. You cannot afford to be competing for a telephone line! You may also want to look at Skype – it’s incredibly cheap and the quality is pretty good now.
7. Consider getting a smart phone, particularly if you are out and about a lot. It is a great way of staying in touch with your email.
8. Use your personal car for business trips and reclaim 40p per mile. There is no value these days in having a company car, unless you need a commercial vehicle.
9. Think about your neighbours – if what you are doing is likely to disrupt them in anyway, speak to them about it early, and make arrangements to keep them happy.
10. Running a business from home can be disruptive for other members of the household. So, try and set things up so that home life and business life to function side by side. Both my wife and I regularly work from home, sometimes long into the evening. An example of one of our “rules” is that business calls are always made/taken outside the room we relax in – and it works very well.
Look out for my next blog post on setting up a business at home - regulatory.