Running a home-based business involves the right mindset and a lot of careful planning. While it can be more cost-effective than renting a premium office space, especially in expensive cities like Toronto or Vancouver, there are a number of factors to take into consideration. Read on to find out if it’s right for you.
Does Running a Home-Based Business Suit my Personality?
Before making any concrete plans, think about your current home environment. Is there space that’s conducive to doing work? Do you require any special equipment? Will there be interruptions from other family members and children at home while you’re working?
Then consider your own work style: are you happy on your own or with the company of colleagues? Are you self-motivated even when business is quiet? Then determine whether or not you will be able to set boundaries between your personal life and your business role.
Finally, imagine what your business might look like in the future. Will there be room to expand your business? How will you address this when that time comes?
Look into Regulations on Home-Based Businesses
Once you’ve decided that running your business from home is right for you, it’s imperative that you check provincial and federal health, safety and taxation rules and regulations related to home-based businesses. There are some benefits from a tax perspective – you may be able to claim a portion of your property taxes, utilities, repairs and maintenance, and even your mortgage interest or rent.
You must also consult municipal by-laws to ensure that your area is zoned for operating a business. This is especially important if you plan to have clients visit your home or if you have non-family members who will be working with you.
Once confirmed that you are able to run your business out of your home, you will need to ensure you have the proper permits and licences. Visit the Government of Canada’s website for full, detailed information on that process.
Make Sure Your Business is Insured
You may assume that your business will automatically be insured under your home insurance policy. This is not the case and should something happen that’s beyond your control – regardless of what that may be – you may not be covered.
First, consult with your home insurance company and let them know you plan to run a home-based business. If you don’t let them know, not only will your business activities not be covered should something happen, but you may also be jeopardizing the coverage you have on your home. Best to know now, rather than later.
In some cases, insurers will not provide home insurance if your residence serves two purposes, and you will need to find a new home insurer all together.
Second, you’ll want to look into home-based business insurance. For some, an extension on a home insurance policy might do, but for many entrepreneurs, a home-based business policy is a better way to go because it offers more coverage for more risks.
When choosing home-based business insurance, look for coverage that goes beyond simply insuring your “stuff”. You need to ensure that you’re covered in case someone visiting your home for business purposes slips or falls. You also have to protect yourself in the event that there are problems with the product or service that you’re selling, especially in the worst-case scenario that you could be handed a lawsuit. And finally, you need insurance in the event of damage on your own property or customer’s property that results in an increase in operating expenses or lost income.
Other types of coverage to consider include errors and omissions coverage if your business provides professional advice, cyber protection in the event that your business becomes the target of hackers and business interruption should damage to your home require you to temporarily move out. Do your research and look for insurers like TruShield insurance where policies are geared specifically to home-based businesses and can be customized to cover all of the above.
Financing, Credit Cards and Bank Accounts for Your Home-Based Business
Starting a home-based business requires a large investment, involving everything from properly fitting your workspace to the products you sell. For this, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve lined up some solid resources when it comes to your finances.
You may require some monetary assistance to get your business off the ground. Depending on what your business is and where you’re located, you may qualify for a government or private sector grant, contribution or loan. You can find a full list of what may be available to you through the Canada Business Network.
Once you have financing lined up, get a credit card. If your business is starting out small, the Bank of Montreal offers the BMO Premium CashBack MasterCard. This is a great card if your business involves a lot of car travel, as it offers 3% cash back on gas purchases made at Shell stations and offers a discount on National or Alamo car rentals. Another good card is the RBC Visa CreditLine for Small Business. It’s a line of credit in addition to a credit card and carries low interest rates ranging from 3.6% or 9.6%.
There’s also the TD Business Travel Visa, which helps earn TD travel rewards points for small business owners on the go. It also comes with $1-million in travel medical insurance coverage, flight/trip delay and delayed/lost baggage coverage, and preferred car rental rates through Avis and Budget.
And of course, you’ll need to set up a bank account for your business. Each of the big five banks has accounts that can meet your needs, but you’ll find the other players have some pretty good offerings as well. For example, Tangerine offers clients four different types of business savings accounts. Oaken Financial, meanwhile, offers GICs to help businesses safeguard their principal. Spend time shopping around and look for high interest rates, where possible.
You’re on Your Way!
Starting a home-based business is an exciting step in your life, and as long as you’re prepared – both financially and emotionally – you’ve got what it takes to succeed. Remember to follow all regulations, make sure you have the right insurance and line up your money needs, and you’re good to go!