It has not been nearly as quiet at the Chamber of Commerce as in recent months. Few Dutch people take the decision to start their own company during the corona crisis, while they might actually really want to. That is a shame, because starting your own business can also be 'just' from home. In fact, working from home not only brings limitations, but also extra challenges and therefore opportunities. But where should you start? And what do you pay attention to? What should you do better or extra now that you are starting your business from home? A checklist in five steps.
The basics of your own business
Fix a business bank account, register your company name with the Chamber of Commerce and claim a domain name; some things are exactly the same, working from home or not working from home. The basics of starting your own business are actually unchanged. This also includes: putting and keeping your administration and accounting in order from day one. You do the entrepreneur in yourself a great favor.
Organize the home workplace optimally
Where previously you may have been looking for an office space or a shared office solution, it is important in the current situation to set up a high-quality home workplace. And we're not just talking about a nice desk with good lighting and a comfortable chair, but also about the equipment and connectivity you will need.
Whatever business you are about to start, you will need a good desktop or laptop anyway. Do yourself a favor and go for a solution that allows you to work on two large screens at the same time. This is especially useful during video conferences with customers or suppliers, where you use one screen for the conference call and use the other to look up other information in the meantime.
Also something to think about: do you need a good printing solution? If so, determine in advance how much you will print and how much it will cost cartridges or toners. Cheap printers are fun, but often cost a lot of money per page in the long run. More expensive printers are an investment, but they print relatively cheaply.
Just as important: make sure you have a good internet connection and decide whether you want a business (landline) telephone line. It can take a few weeks before such a connection starts working, so arrange this in time and do not save on it. The Internet is one of those things that you want to always work smoothly, especially if you are doing your business entirely from home.
The digital workplace: what exactly do you need?
Nice, such a workplace, but you won't get anywhere without software. The no-brainer is a subscription to Office 365. This means you can always use the latest versions of Excel, Word and Outlook.
Your domain name will probably also include an option to get your own email address. You can use it via Outlook, but you could also consider business Gmail, for example. There are more online tools (such as Dropbox if you want to be able to exchange large files with customers or business relations) that are worth considering. Most only become really valuable for business use when you take out a business subscription. Take a good look at what you need and arrange it all in one go. Keep invoices safe!
Special attention should be paid to whether you want to use accounting software or do it manually in, for example, Excel. Switching later takes unnecessary time, so determine this in advance. Sometimes your bank can help with information and support.
The online presence: where can customers contact?
Your company has started, your workplace is up & running and you are ready to help your first customer. Yet the phone does not ring yet. Time to fix your online presence!
You had already claimed your own domain, but of course a professional website has to be built on it. You can do that yourself, for example via WordPress (with WooCommerce included if you want to start a webshop), but you can also outsource it to a professional agency. Do take serious costs into account.
In addition to your own website, it is wise to also organize your LinkedIn and create other social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Perhaps even more important is your Google Business account, with which your company can be found via Google Maps. Provide complete contact information so that people can easily reach you from the search engine and not have to go to your site to look up your phone number.
Online findability: how do potential customers find you?
Nice that you are present online; that does not make you easy to find. SEO is the magic word for that. But what is SEO? In short, it means that through SEO you can ensure that you get more traffic to your site and social media accounts and that this traffic also suits your target group.
Wagonloads of information about SEO can be found online, but what you need to know in advance is that you do not add SEO every now and then. It is something you have to weave into your website and communication, always and continuously, otherwise it will not work properly. Have you hired an agency to fix your website? Then they will undoubtedly employ an SEO professional to help you with this.
The social media strategy: the second source of visitors
Interaction with customers is one of the most important spearheads that you should have as an entrepreneur. Whether it concerns prospects, complaints, questions or existing customers just ask if everything was as desired; being in contact a lot always has a positive effect on your company.
The modern way of continuous customer contact is an active social media strategy. Your customers are continuously online, especially on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. If you know how to distinguish yourself there, that is a flywheel for your marketing strategy. Before you create a profile, first check whether your customers and competitors are there. Fish where the fish are.
The content strategy: a story that makes sense
All your marketing activities and online visibility will - if all goes well - mainly lead customers to your website. It must therefore be well maintained and continuously provided with fresh content. Customers must have a reason to keep coming back to your site. That is a well thought out content marketing strategy indispensable, which ideally blends seamlessly with your social media strategy. Remember: a website that you never renew will eventually bleed to death. If necessary, take a business blogging course, but make sure that the content on your website is continuously updated.
This is how you start your own business from home
With this checklist you start your own business from home. Naturally, each step in the checklist requires its own elaboration and that takes time - a lot of time. The most important thing is that you realize that starting your own business from your own home is perfectly possible.
In all cases, the following applies: do what makes you feel good and dare to start that company, if you think you can add value to your industry. If you control something that consumers or business parties would like to pay for, don't let the homeworking 'obligation' put you off. It is precisely in this day and age that we need courageous entrepreneurs who want to invest every day in building their fresh business.