Start and run a business from home
There are many reasons to consider starting a business from home – more flexible hours, less time spent commuting, and a better overall work-life balance are just a few of the potential benefits.
During the pandemic, work habits started changing, and a trend towards working from home began and stuck. As of 2020, almost half of the UK worked from home. Home businesses are more viable than ever in the current climate, and thanks to modern technologies, entrepreneurship is more accessible to everyone. So here’s a primer on how to start a business from home.
Home business 101
The most obvious thing that sets a home business apart from others is that you run it from your personal space. That may seem self-explanatory, but it introduces a new set of pros and cons.
Starting a business from home is cheaper than investing in a physical location. There’s no additional rent to pay, utilities to manage, or space to maintain. You won’t have to come in every day to stock and restock shelves, or lock up at closing time.
And thanks to technological advances, one person can handle work previously done by a staff of several. Customer service, accounting, inventory management, and more can all be done quickly and easily with the help of automation.
Home-based businesses afford you more time to focus on areas of your life that aren’t work-related. Because you’re your own boss, you decide your hours. And not having to commute means you have more time in your day. In fact, a significant portion of people wondering how to start a business from home are looking to devote more time to childcare and other non-work pursuits.
Because you’re working and living in the same place, it can be a challenge to stop your personal and work selves from bleeding together, so it’s a good idea to designate a room or area as your office. Having a dedicated workspace promotes productivity.
Attracting clients when you work from home can be a hurdle, because you don’t have a fancy office or a recognised name to snare them with. Physical locations like retail stores sometimes benefit from walk-in traffic, which you won’t have as a home business.
It can be tough to expand your business when it’s one that you run from home. If you’re working with limited space, adding more employees could strain things both logistically and stress-wise.Check out more business advice
Work from home business ideas
Wondering how to start a business from home? There are a lot of businesses you could start from home, across a massive amount of industries. Here are a few ideas to inspire you to start running a business from home.
Provide a service
A major benefit of service-based businesses is that you aren’t offering a physical product, which means you won’t face as much of a challenge finding storage space. There are a huge range of businesses that are considered services. These include:
Photo and video editing
You can also offer services found more often in physical locations, like a cleaning or a catering service.
Start a food business from home
Do you love cooking? You may want to start a food business. The market for takeaway businesses has been growing before and during the pandemic. And good news for anyone wondering how to start a takeaway business from home – it’s a low-cost venture.
All you’ll need is your food, an online ordering system, and a way to deliver food to your customers. You can use a third party delivery company or fulfil orders yourself.
When it comes to the food you offer, make sure you have a niche. Maybe it comes from your heritage or from a gap in your local market.
One of the most common business ideas is selling physical items. If you’re creative or have experience crafting things, you might want to consider selling handmade products. And if you have limited space, it’s a good idea to focus on small items that you can pack and store easily. Some examples of things you could make are:
Baked goods or other food
Small pieces of furniture
Alternatively, you may decide to sell digital products,like ebooks, music or software. The good thing about these is they can be reproduced endlessly, so it’s easy to sell a lot without worrying about storage space and costs.
Finding products to sell
As someone running a business from home, where can you find products you haven’t made yourself?
One way is dropshipping, which is where suppliers purchase and store the products you sell. When you dropship, not only do you not have to worry about storing, shipping, or purchasing the product you sell, but you can sell almost anything by looking on sites like Amazon or Alibaba.
When a customer orders something from you, that’s when you buy the product at wholesale price from your supplier. Then, the supplier ships the product to your customer.
You might also consider buying products in bulk and then reselling them. Buying in bulk means you get a better deal than if you bought each item individually.
Set yourself up to work from home
When you’re starting a business from home, one of your biggest challenges may be setting boundaries. It’s easy to let work and your personal life intersect and easy for things to become chaotic.
The first step to setting good boundaries is scheduling. Even though doing business from home gives you more flexibility with your hours, that flexibility can lead to a drop in productivity if you’re not careful. Make sure you have time that’s dedicated specifically to work and time that’s set aside for other parts of your life, like family and self-care.
You also need a proper office. That means setting aside space in your home specifically for work. Your exact needs will change based on your business, but a good place to start is a desk and office chair.
In general, it’s a good idea for your home office to have natural light. Natural light will actually improve your productivity and mental health. Plants do the same. And keep track of time so you have plenty of chances to take small breaks and aren’t overworking yourself.
Running your business
Get paid online
Businesses everywhere need to be able to take payments. Since you're running a business from home, you may not want to sell your products in person. In that case, you’ll need an ecommerce website so customers can find and buy from you. With a SumUp Online Store, you can create one for free in minutes.
There, you can easily upload your products, complete with product photos and descriptions. You can sell online anytime, from anywhere, and to anyone. Just open the store by toggling ‘store published’ in the SumUp App or Dashboard.Open your online store
Payment Links are a way for you to request payment from customers no matter where they are, on a variety of platforms. You can send your Payment Links over social media, email or SMS.
Payments Links also help you sell online using social media. All you need is to have good product photos and the SumUp App. Post a product photo and use your caption to tell customers how they can order from you.
Then, just send a Payment Link whenever you receive an order, and you can close the sale in seconds.
Get paid in person
Depending on your industry, you might find yourself dealing with people in person despite running a business from home. For example, maybe you run a cleaning business, and customers have to come to your house to pick up their clothes.
In that case, it’s useful to get a card machine. With a card machine, you can take payments in more forms than cash. SumUp’s card readers let you accept payment via debit card, credit card, contactless payment, and Apple/Google Pay.
You can take your SumUp card machine anywhere, since all models are lightweight and compact enough to fit in your pocket. Your reader will have internet access, either built in or through the SumUp App, which means you can use it to process payments wherever you are.
After you buy a reader, you’ll only ever be charged when you accept payments with it. There are no monthly fees or contracts governing how you use your card reader. You’ll simply pay a fee of 1.67% for each transaction.Compare our card readers
Keep your business organised
When you’re running a business from home, you’ll find yourself juggling many different tasks and responsibilities. Some of these responsibilities are tedious and can wind up costing valuable time. Luckily, there are tools you can use to make your life easier.
When it comes time to keep track of customer orders, debts, and payments, you’ll have to write invoices. Invoicing is a convenient, legally-binding way to track what a customer has ordered or requested, when the deal was made, how much they owe, and if they’ve paid yet.
Typically, invoices are long, filled with details, and take a while to write. But with SumUp Invoices, you can put one together in under a minute. The template is already there in accordance with the law in your country. You just need to fill in a few blanks and hit send.
When your customer gets an invoice from you, they also receive a Payment Link that they can use to send you the money they owe. And you can track SumUp Invoices once they’re sent out, so you’ll know when customers have paid.
Perfect your accounting
Accounting can be among the most complex and time-consuming tasks you’ll face as a business owner. Managing your finances is a daily effort that requires you to keep track of your sales and expenses. It’s not only for tax reasons; having an accurate idea of your finances makes planning for the future easier.
SumUp makes all that number crunching easier. Thanks to the reporting tools available in the SumUp Dashboard, you’ll be able to see all the transactions you process, payouts you received, and fees you paid.
You can even download these reports, so you can refer to them whenever they’re needed. Add or remove reports from the Dashboard according to what your business needs. Reports also let you compare sales figures between different times so you can measure your progress.
SumUp Invoices and Reports combined give you all you need to make sure your accounting is in order.Learn more about SumUp Invoices
In short, the answer to the question ‘can you run a business from home?’ is ‘yes, absolutely’. The advances in payment and financial tech in recent years make being a solo entrepreneur easier than ever, and allow you to fully enjoy the convenience of running a business from home.
Starting a business from home is much the same as starting any other business – find your product idea, write a business plan, and get your business legally recognised. Your ideas may have to be tweaked so they can more feasibly be done at home, but then you’re all set.
If you want more tips on getting your business off the ground, head over to the SumUp Business Guide. The wealth of knowledge and situations we address reflects our passion for helping business owners get paid doing what they love.