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How to get your small business off the ground
Darren Nicholls explains the ins and outs of running your business from your home
Question: I’m thinking about starting my own business but don’t have any office space. What do I need to consider if I run my business from home?
Answer: When thinking about running a business from home you need to consider a number of factors. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the nature of your work needs to be suitable for home working: things that might be considered as inconveniences to neighbours, such as frequent deliveries or regular visits from customers, could cause problems.
Secondly, if you are planning to run your business from your home, you may have to inform your mortgage provider, or your landlord (your tenancy agreement may prohibit running a business from home). You may also have to inform your local authority if you need planning permission to make alterations to your home such as building an extension, or are expecting increased traffic and visitors.
The next thing you will need to consider is insurance. A standard home insurance policy is unlikely to cover business activity, so you may need to take out an additional policy for loss or damage to office equipment. This could also include insuring any business cash you may keep at home, or public liability insurance if you will be welcoming clients or customers into your home.
If you run a business from home you will usually not have to pay business rates, particularly if you only use a small part of your home for the business or you are selling goods via post. You may need to pay business rates though, on top of council tax, if you convert part of your home to a shop or workshop, regularly have customers coming to the property, or have employees working there. You can find out about what the business rates might be by contacting the Valuation Office Agency, or if you live in Scotland by contacting your local assessor.
If your home business starts to grow, you might consider taking on some extra staff. However, there are things you will need to consider. As well as finding out about if it will affect whether you have to pay business rates you will also need to carry out health and safety risk assessments. In addition, you will also need to ensure you meet all employment law requirements, and have the right contracts for all your employees.
• Darren Nicholls is Product Manager for Informi, powered by AAT. Visit informi.co.uk/PQ to find more practical advice and support for new businesses
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