My last post about starting a home-based business had to do with identifying what you love. This really is the best place to start thinking about a business, because times will get tough, and loving what you do will be bring refreshment to your day.
Let's say you've decided on an idea. Before you take one step towards starting, my advice is to do your research.
For practical purposes, let's decide that you have always loved to decorate cakes, and want to start a custom cake company. Let's say you want to make beautiful cakes with fresh flowers and strings of fake pearls and have decided to call it "Elegant Cakes." What do you need to know before you invest in pans, decorating supplies and pink cake boxes?
You will need to know if you can legally do this in your house. To do that, start locally and move outwards, checking with every government and "governing" body - like a homeowner's association. Make a personal appointment to visit your city offices. If they've got a small business office, that's a great place to start. You'll need to check into a business license and tax license. Check your zoning regulations. Your city wants you to succeed because you'll be paying taxes, and that's a great benefit. Hopefully your city can help guide you on up the totem pole of government.
Since you'll be preparing food, you'll need to check on a license for that. You'll also have state tax taxes to pay. The responsibility falls on you to learn everything you can about what you need to know. So keep pushing until you are well educated about the legal requirement of starting a cake business.
There's also the step of registering your business name with the Corporation Commission. Do you want a website? Make sure you can register that as well. As you do your research you may discover other elements that your state requires, so please don't take my list as exact for your unique area.
This research won't cost you anything but time. However, it can save you lots of money in the future by avoiding breaking laws. Once you've done your legal research, compile all the requirements and costs in a master list.
The next research to do is on what it will actually cost you in supplies. You might not know some of this until you do the legal research. You might find that your state requires you to have a different dishwasher, or a different hot water heater. I'm just guessing at that, but I've seen similar requirement when setting up a professional kitchen. Then, make a comprehensive list of your baking and kitchen expenses to get started.
Finally, you'll need to advertise your business somehow. Even if it's a brochure and business cards printed off your computer. If you are really serious, you might want to advertise on some online directories. You might want to invest in a professional design of a logo (which I highly recommend) Perhaps you want to print up a pretty label to put on your logo. Brainstorm all the items you might need for this side of the business.
Then there will just be miscellaneous supplies and expenses, such as receipt books, credit card processing, bank fees, etc.
I realize that many people would prefer to avoid these steps. If you have been baking for friends, you know how easy it would be to charge $100 for a cake and pocket the cash. However, this really isn't the right way to run a business. It might work on a very occasional basis. But it's not a legal or ethical way to operate a true business.
To be a Christian business owner, I believe we need to respect and operate within the laws. Plus, once you have done all the steps to create your business, you will have a true investment in it. And, it will show your spouse you are serious about this.
So today's tip is to do your research. Once you have a true idea of what it will take to start your business, you'll need to figure out how to finance it. I'll talk about that next time.
In His Love,