Gust Post from Margaret Llewellyn
Starting a home-based business may have been your dream come true, but figuring out the start up requirements and regulations will probably be closer to a nightmare. Learning what licenses you need and what agencies to get them from is your job, says Inc. Magazine. Government regulators aren’t going to care that you didn’t realize you needed to get a health inspection for your business. They will fine you regardless of whether you were truly ignorant or not. If that’s not enough, you also need to figure out ways to protect your new business against both cyber and “real-life” criminals. Deep breath. Here’s a clear breakdown of what you’ll want to do to get started:
It is important to check the zoning rules and license requirements for having a home business in your area. Not doing so could mean a fine for your business, or you could even get shut down. Even if you believe your home-based company is so small, your neighbors won’t notice its existence, it really isn’t worth taking the chance. Inc explained that all it takes is one angry neighbor complaining to the authorities about the Fed-Ex and UPS trucks rumbling up to your house a few times a day to raise a red flag with local authorities.
In addition, you need to verify with local authorities to make sure you don’t need to purchase a business license or obtain a specialized license, such as the ones daycares typically require, as MIT notes.
If you watch ABC’s “Shark Tank,” you’ve probably heard the investors — the sharks — ask the entrepreneurs who appear on the show whether they have applied for or received patents on their ideas or products. The “sharks” ask about patents for a reason. You could have the greatest idea on the planet, but if you try to market it without getting the proper patents, you could stand to make nothing on your creation if someone steals it and makes their own version.
Your home business’ intellectual properties can and should be patented, as well. Joseph G. Hadzima, Jr., a senior lecturer at MIT, told Entrepreneur that protecting your company’s intellectual property rights is a necessity in today’s business world.
Shredder is Your Best Friend
Criminals don’t mind getting a little dirty and will even dig through your trash if it means they can get a hold of your company’s information. The Better Business Bureau says thieves only need to get their hands on one unshredded personal document of yours to steal your identity. That’s why it’s so important to shred your company’s documents, rather than simply tossing them in the trashcan.
Protect Your Identity
Unfortunately, your company could also fall victim to mail theft and ID theft without proper protection. If you suspect that criminals have been stealing your mail, or you learn that your neighbors have had items stolen from their boxes, you should report the situation to your post office. You may also want to hire an identity protection service to check your credit reports and make sure no one has opened any new accounts in your name. They can monitor your accounts for any future fraudulent activity.
Entrepreneur reports that 60 percent of home businesses don’t carry enough insurance coverage. Many owners mistakenly believe their homeowner’s insurance will cover their business, but the reality is, in most cases, it will not cover a business-related accident that occurs in your house or on your property, as the SBA highlights.
Even if you don’t have employees, it’s still possible for a person to be injured because of your business. For example, a UPS man could trip and injure himself while delivering packages. If your insurance company discovers the deliveryman was on your property due to your business, they could leave you responsible for his bills.
About the Author: Maggie got her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Old Dominion University, and now she’s a small business consultant and thrift store junkie in Virginia Beach.