But before you quit your day job and dive in headfirst, here are some key areas you’ll want to think through and get right, especially if this is your first time launching a business from home. Follow this practical advice to set yourself up for success.


Creating A Business Plan

Even if it’s just for your own reference, taking the time to write out a business plan is invaluable when starting any new business. Think through what products or services you will provide, your customer base and how to reach them, viable pricing structures, start-up costs, and short- and long-term goals.

Identify your niche market and ideal target customer. You likely won’t be able to serve everybody, so pinpoint who you envision buying from you, and gear your product offerings toward their preferences. Detailing your ideal customer—including location, gender, age range, income level, lifestyle factors, main purchasing motivators, etc.—will focus your efforts.

Map out a marketing strategy. How will you spread the word to drive traffic and, more importantly, sales? Consider advertising mediums like social media, e-commerce platforms like Shopify, search engine optimization, email newsletters and blogging. Having an initial marketing plan, which you can adapt as needed, is key.

Project startup and operational costs. Register your business, buy any needed equipment, and build a website—these will all cost money upfront. Make a list of one-time startup expenses, and estimate ongoing monthly costs of internet service, product materials, online advertising spend, transaction fees, accounting software, etc. Identify how you will fund these expenses.


Establishing An Online Presence

A strong online presence will likely be the lifeline of any business you run from home. Follow these steps to get your digital ducks in a row before launch:

Reserve branding assets. Secure your desired business name as your domain and register branded email addresses. Also reserve usernames on key social media platforms, ecommerce sites you plan to use, etc.

Build out website pages. You don’t necessarily need complex e-commerce capabilities or custom graphic design up front, but at minimum, create informational landing pages clearly explaining your products or services, with contact info and links to social media profiles.

Curate business social media accounts. Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can spread brand awareness and direct sales. Establish profiles using your new branding, write short intro bios, and post some photos or updates ahead of your official launch announcement to start building an audience.


Document Management Software Will Save You Time

Running every aspect of a business from home means you’ll have to stay organized without physical office spaces for things like file cabinets and bulletin boards. The good news is document management software makes keeping everything in its right place extremely manageable—no matter how small or large your operation grows.

Evernote and Google Drive for note-keeping. Use Evernote or Google Docs to house all written information in one place—business brainstorms, marketing ideas, client communications, expense reporting, invoicing data, etc. Both have robust search functions when you need to quickly access something specific.

Software for accounting. When tackling finances, use financial management software to streamline tasks like issuing invoices, tracking payments owed, paying monthly expenses, categorizing tax-relevant purchases, logging business mileage, generating financial statements, and pulling tailored reporting. Such programs can connect directly to your business bank accounts and credit cards, allowing you to automatically import and sort transactions.

Software for sending large files. This is one of those problems that you might not think about until it occurs, but time can be a real factor when you’ve got contracts to send over, or you’ve got a portfolio to send to a client. What happens if you’re getting massive PDFs to check over and send back before the end of the day? A good PDF compressor is well worth having to ensure that you can keep the quality of those files without worrying about size. Smallpdf can help to get rid of that stress with their expert software. 


Mastering Self-Discipline And Focus

When the comfort and built-in accountability of an office environment goes away, working from home presents certain productivity challenges. Without bosses peering over your shoulder or coworkers down the hall to chatter with over lunch, you must be self-directed and regimented in how you manage your schedule. Follow these tips:

Stick to set work hours. Treat your work-from-home schedule the same as if you still had to commute to a physical workplace. Maintain regular hours—don’t be tempted to slack until the afternoon and suddenly realize you need to work until midnight to meet your goals for the day.

Create a dedicated home office. Even if it’s just a corner of your dining room table roped off temporarily with room dividers, designate a workspace that cues your brain it’s time to work when you’re sitting there. Also, invest in decent office equipment like a basic printer/scanner for managing paperwork.

Limit distractions. When “on the clock,” don’t give in to distractions like checking personal social feeds, online shopping, snacking, or binge-watching Netflix. Use website blockers to limit temptations. Close the door to keep pets and kids at bay if possible. Refrain from mixing household chores into work time.

Keep structured to-do lists. Outline daily objectives on paper or using free task list apps. Segment big complex projects into bite-sized sub-tasks to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Conquer one small thing at a time. Log completed items to feel a sense of constant progress as you build momentum.

Take regular breaks. Even people in offices don’t sit glued to their desks all day without ever rising for a bathroom or lunch break. Build in small breaks every 90 minutes or so to stand up, stretch, grab some water, and go for a short walk. This mental recess from focusing will boost energy and concentration when you get back to work.


Putting Personal Finances In Order

As an entrepreneur, your business and personal finances will intertwine, especially in the early days as you self-fund startup costs and support your living expenses.

Before diving into your new venture, reevaluate your personal budget and financial safety nets to ensure your basic needs are covered in case revenue is inconsistent in the early phases.

Bulk up emergency savings. Ideally, you have several months of living expenses set aside for unexpected crises. If not, start stashing cash from recent paychecks to pad your safety net before leaving the stability of a regular salary. Don’t drain every dollar on business launch costs.

Reduce unnecessary expenses. Cut discretionary personal spending on dining out, entertainment, travel, etc. in the short term to conserve cash. Budget carefully for needs like groceries and utility bills as well. Consider downsizing large recurring bills like your apartment, car payment, gym membership, etc. to temporarily lower monthly overhead.

Use separate business accounts and credit cards. Keep all revenue, purchases, payments, and expenses running through your business’s own bank and credit card accounts, separate from personal funds, from day one. Never commingle money to simplify taxes, accounting, and positioning yourself for future financing.

Continue health insurance. Don’t take risks with medical coverage. If leaving a traditional employer, understand all options to continue benefits like COBRA, private marketplace plans, or a new spouse’s policy. An unexpected health crisis without insurance could tank all your entrepreneurial plans and savings in one swoop.