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Boyd Wright

Growing a Home-Based Business: What You Need to Know

Boyd Wright
Wright Made Products & SBA Home-Based Business Champion

Thursday, July 28, 2011 1:00 PM

Boyd Wright has learned a lot about turning a home-based business into a successful enterprise. He left his job as general counsel at the University of North Dakota to become a professional woodworker.  The business specializes in small-scale woodworking products. Wright started as a part-time, home-based business. He resigned from his position at UND to devote full-time to woodworking and developing the business. With his enthusiasm and skill, Wright has become one of the region’s experts on the subject, and he helps other entrepreneurs fund success with their workshop passions. Wright also serves as a SCORE counselor, providing one-on-one business advising to entrepreneurs.

Boyd Wright knows first-hand what it takes to grow a successful home-based business. Chat participants can get valuable insight from Wright and learn more about working out of your house, starting a home-based business and managing a business within the law. Wright will answer questions on how to grow a home-based business, the benefits and the challenges.

What do Apple Computer, Hershey's, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and the Ford Motor Company have in common? These well-known corporations all started out as home-based businesses. In fact, more than half of all U.S. businesses are based out of an owner's home. Starting a home-based business has many rewards as well as challenges.

Test your business readiness

Chat Transcript

 
From:
Barbara DeSalvo
Location:
Bethpage, New York
 

Good afternoon (at least it is afternoon here in North Dakota). Welcome to the SBA chat on home based business. I hope I can be of some assistance in answering your questions.

 
From:
Barbara DeSalvo
Location:
Bethpage, New York
 
Question:
I work from a home office - how much can I actually deduct as business expense from my personal expenses - ex. if I have 10 rooms in my home and use one for business, can I deduct 10% of utility expenses? A multiple times a year I must see clients at my
Reply:
. Barbara: Thanks for the question. Home Office deduction on taxes is one of the most difficult areas of both tax law and running a business. I am not a tax lawyer, and even if I were, it would take some careful analysis of the specifics of your situation to answer your question. You really need to consult with a tax attorney or CPA on the specifics of your business.
 
From:
Ventress Dates
Location:
Park Forest, IL
 
Question:
Landscaping Business,what are the costs
Reply:
Ventress: I can’t answer your questions as to the cost of a landscaping business. I have no experience with that type of business. I am in the handcrafted gift business. I would recommend you check with the local SBA or SCORE office to see if there are people available who have experience with that field.
 
From:
Sylmarah
Location:
Los Angeles, CA
 
Question:
I am seeking Start up Funds for my small homebase business
Reply:
Symarah: Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, without any details as to the proposed business, it is not possible to give you some ideas.
 
From:
Silvia Silva
Location:
Los Angeles, CA
 
Question:
1)What are some of the tax credits/incentives for a homebased busines?, If any. 2)How do large companies view doing business with a small homebased business? 3)Should homebased businesses use a P.O. box or home address? and how is a business perceived when a business has a P.O. box only, listed on marketing materials or business cards? 4)What is the best way to manage time and seperate the business from the everyday household chores?
Reply:
Silvia: This is a very state specific questions and I would recommend you check with your local SBA or SCORE office. As to large businesses doing business with small business, I have found it wise to NOT do business with them. They take advantage. I have always used a street adderss on my advertising marketing so have no experience with a PO address. Finally, when you find a way t manage time between business and household chores, please tell me. I have struggled with it for over 25 years.
 
From:
Cati Myer
Location:
Healdsburg, CA
 
Question:
I understand tax laws are extremely strict about what you can and cannot write off in a home business according to my tax counselor. Do you have words of wisdom, tips, trick and lesser known information to share. Thank you,
Reply:
Cati: Thanks for your question. See the earlier answer. Be sure and document very carefully all expenses you wish to deduct and don't bother with the home office deduction -- more work than it is worth.
 
From:
Cordelia M. Hardin
Location:
Rock Hill, South Carolina
 
Question:
I am starting a pharmaceutical and Supply Company and need to know what is the best location where ther are no conflict of neighborhood development. The property I an trying to purchase is with Tutle Reality Company off of Heckle Blvd. for 2.0 acres, is there any assistance with the development team to help purchase this property?
Reply:
Cordelia: You need to talk to the SBA and SCORE people near you for assistance.
 
From:
Brandie Evans
Location:
Green Springs, Ohio
 
Question:
I am a single mother of 4 children and wanting to start a small business.I would like to start an agency that provides in home supports and services to developmentally disabled individuals. Would the best way to go be a LLC as the sole member? Thanks.
Reply:
You should talk to an attorney, Brandie, but I would think a sole propreietorship would work.
 
From:
David Finch
Location:
Richmond, VA
 
Question:
How difficult is it dealing with your taxes as a home based business. What is deductible and what isn't?
Reply:
David: Thanks for your question. Please see the earlier questions about taxes. In the overall scheme of things, taxes are not that big a deal.
 
From:
Glenn R. Gearhart
Location:
philipsburg, pa.
 
Question:
I want to start a small business.I have the building and the desire to open a Human creamation centre.What I can't seam to find out are the laws are on this
Reply:
Glenn: I have no experience with the issue of human cremation, but would think you would need to check with your local health department and/or an attorney in your area to find out the laws in this area.
 
From:
shawna hill
Location:
casper, wyoming
 
Question:
can i get a grant to help me start my home business
Reply:
Shawana: Thanks for stopping by for the chat. You need to check with SBA staff, but I don't think there are grants for starting a home business.
 
From:
Cheryl Hontz
Location:
Perkinston, MS
 
Question:
What is the one thing or issue that tends to work against the success of a home-based business?
Reply:
Cheryl: Your question makes me stop and think a bit. I think the one thing would be the lack of flexibility to deal with a constantly changing environment. New things, new ideas, new approaches, new products -- constant change.
 
From:
Mike
Location:
,
 
Question:
As a woodworker starting a home based business, what advice can you provide. I will be making furniture (and bunkbeds), setting up an LLC, etc. Working initially out of my garage. I have been working with some insurance agents to get product liability and other commercial insurance, however it has been challenging to find an insurer for this industry. Any suggestions on running/setting up the business, obtaining adequate insurance (suggestions on insurers friendly to furniture making businesses or those who are ok with home based manufacturing), etc. would be helpful. Thank you ahead of time for your thoughts as it appears you are a woodworker as well from your photo.
Reply:
Mike: A man after my own heart. I am a woodworker and have a shop in the back yard. Insurance is a problem and one simply has to keep looking. Try adding a rider to your home owner's policy. Best of luck to you.
 
From:
Covalent Concepts Consulting Group, LLC
Location:
,
 
Question:
Do you have any tips for networking or growing your business once you have it established?
Reply:
Thanks for your question. Since I began my business over 25 years ago, we weren't as concerned with networking, so I merely tried every idea I could think of to secure clients who wanted to buy my products. Now days, I think Facebook, Twitter, U Tube, etc., etc. are all useful, but never the sole solution. Try any and all things you can think of. Ask others.
 
From:
Nicole Dixon
Location:
Tucson, AZ
 
Question:
I am just starting a new, small, home based business. I will be selling handmade beauty products to the public. My main source of getting the word out is family, friends, farmer's markets and online webstore. I amv ery confused at how to get all the licenses and registrations and other things associated with starting a business right and the legal way for my state and my city. What do I start with first? I know I am supposed to form an LLC, also register my name of business, get a business license and then get an EIN number. How do I know everything I am supposed to do as well as what order?
Reply:
Nicole: An interesting business. First, I would talk with the local SCORE people or SBA as to assistance on licensing, legal status. Much of this is state-specific. An EIN number is a tax issue and may not be needed right away. Here is another area where an tax attorney or CPA will be of help. Good luck.
 
From:
Patricia Madison
Location:
Austin, Texas
 
Question:
Is there any types of grants and loans for someone who is thinking about turning a Medical Billing and Coding Degree into at home business? Is there any money in it? And is profitful right now with the economy?
Reply:
Patricia: An interesting area. I would think there is some potential in the area given the huge amounts of money in the health industry. Whether it will work in your specific area is impossible for me to answer. I doubt that there are any grants or loans available (other than bank loans), however. Good luck to you.
 
From:
Mark Santos
Location:
Schertz, Texas
 
Question:
what type of permits are required to start a home based business for a courier service?
Reply:
Mark: I am sorry I can't help on this. I would recommend you check with SBA and with your city hall.
 
From:
Tara
Location:
Carmel, CA
 
Question:
I'm letting a freind sell feathers on ebay/paypal in my name.. Shes being me. She could not do it in her name because ebay/Paypal shut her down for using a wholesaler that made fraudulent copies of her product at that time. WITH THIS NEW PRODUCT/THATS VERY LEGAL She has now made 12,000 in 1 month,She will not support getting a business license/or having agreement drawn/notorized. HELP WHAT WAS I THINKING? I need to know how to protect myself. I'M ALSO TRYING TO BE FAIR. HOW CAN SHE GET WHAT SHES DONE USING MY NAME IN HER NAME?
Reply:
Tara: You have a serious problem here and need to see an attorney at once.
 
From:
Jo Dee
Location:
Lipan, Texas
 
Question:
I have my BP almost complete. Nearly every aspect of the business has been researched and planned out so we're as close to ready as you can get. It appears that we can qualify for 3 available loans. 7(a), and a few others connected to rural communities. Is it true that obtaining SBA support is a difficult and challenging task? And what is the next step we take after completing the BP. (by the way we are getting help from SBDC personnel with the BP )
Reply:
Jo Dee: I am probably not much help here. I never did a BP -- just started small and built as I went. You do need to talk to SBA SCORE for what help there may be. Good luck.
 
From:
Constance
Location:
San Diego, CA
 
Question:
What is the easiest way to make a web site? any special softwares out there?
Reply:
Constance: The easiest way to build a web site? Ah, I wish I knew. Actually, I never bothered to do it. It always seemed to me to much work and a misuse of my time. I have always used the pre-planned sites on other hosts -- amazon.com "z" shops, e-Bay, etsy.com, etc. The fees they charge are minimal and I get professional sites and a better use of my time. If you find a better way, please let me know.
 
From:
Al
Location:
Hallsville, TX
 
Question:
When is it required to file quarterly tax statements with the state (texas)
Reply:
Al: I live in North Dakota, so have no idea of Texas rules. I assume you are referring to sales tax. Check with your state tax department would answer that, I would think.
 
From:
Gary Dore
Location:
Palm Bay, FL
 
Question:
Since the SBA is hosting this chat, can you please give an example or two of how the SBA has been a help to your small business. TX.
Reply:
Gary: Not to embarrass my hosts here, but I have never used the SBA for my business. I try to help our local SBA office by participating in SCORE etc. I know, from working with others, that SCORE counselors and SBA staff can be very useful in guidance, but it is second-hand knowledge.
 
From:
Sue Hawkins
Location:
Florence, Ky
 
Question:
How and where do I get a small load to start up a business with bad credit?
Reply:
Sue: Thanks for writing in. Unfortunately, I think you will have problems getting a loan with bad credit. You might want to talk to SBA about alternatives. Good luck.
 
From:
Mrs. B
Location:
woodbridge, va
 
Question:
What is the best way to venture out and start and fund a franchise business.
Reply:
Mrs. B: Nice of you to join us. I have never participated in a franchise business, but i would think that the best way would be to talk to as many people who are currently in one as to the pluses, minuses, etc. The more information you have, the better prepared you are. Best wishes.
 
From:
Andrea
Location:
, Michigan
 
Question:
Do you find you get more business through customer referrals, or by putting more effort into advertising?
Reply:
Andrea, it has been my experience in the handcrafted gift industry that advertising works best -- primarily as I sell nationally and internationally. If your business is primarily local, then I would think customer referrals would be best. Hope tha helps.
 
From:
Dee
Location:
Fairfield, CT
 
Question:
Hi,Mr. Wright. Where would be the best place to start to get ideas what home-based business i can explore in my area? Thank you.
Reply:
Dee: I think you need to come at it from the other end. What are you interested in doing? Can you make a business of it? Is there any money in it? Do you need special training, licenses, etc? Self-analysis would be the better approach, I would think. Good luck.
 
From:
Charman Baxter
Location:
Quincy, IL
 
Question:
What is the best use of social networking (Facebook, etc.) for home-based businesses?
Reply:
Charman: I recommend having a fan page on FB and using it to tell your story and your business. However, also use Twitter, U Tube, etc.
 
From:
Mary Hornek
Location:
Louisville, Kentucy
 
Question:
What is the best and most useful personal advice you can provide about growing a business from home and knowing when to expand outside of it.
Reply:
Mary: Thanks for the question. I have not expanded beyond a home-based business, but my best advise would be to be flexible, ready to change product, approach, ideas, etc. as times and situations change. Been very useful to me.
 
From:
Larry
Location:
Omaha, ne
 
Question:
what is your thoughts on MLM as home based company
Reply:
Larry: I don't know what MLM is so can't respond.
 
From:
Teri Keene
Location:
Quincy, IL
 
Question:
Specifically, what resources are available for home based businesses from the SBA?
Reply:
Teri: I am not an SBA staffer, so I can't answer that question. You should talk to them. I suspect part of the answer will depend on what yo are trying to do.
 
From:
Kim
Location:
NY, NY
 
Question:
My partner and I are forming an LLC. She wants 51%. This company is her idea but she has no money to get it started; I'm contributing financially. I'm struggling with her business savvy regarding finances. If we have an
Reply:
Kim: A challenging question. This is a very challenging are and you definitely need the advice of your own attorney. You can have some serious problems here, I would think.
 
From:
Ms Jackson
Location:
Atlanta, Georgia
 
Question:
What are the most important things to consider when starting a home based business?
Reply:
Ms. Jackson -- the most important thing to consider is what do you want to do and are you willing to put the time into it. It is not a 40 an hour week with benefits.
 
From:
Silvia
Location:
Los Angeles,
 
Question:
What are some of the ways you have advertised internationally?
Reply:
I advertise internationally through my postings on etsy.com which is international in scope and then facebook where I work to link with potential customers world wide.
 
From:
Bridget Beckford
Location:
Douglasville, Ga
 
Question:
What are the best marketing techniques for a start-up home based business?
Reply:
Sharon: Interesting question. I had neither a large sum of money, nor a loan when I started my business over 25 years ago. I started it part-time while I was fully employed. Financing was out of my own pocket and was minimal at first. As the business grew I used the income from sales to grow since I had a full-time job to support me. By the time I went full-time on the business, it was pretty well stabilized.
 
From:
sharon glover
Location:
beaufort, south carolina
 
Question:
did you have a large sum of money when you started your home business or did you had to get a loan? What were your greatest challenges in your first year of operation?
Reply:
Sharon: Interesting question. I had neither a large sum of money, nor a loan when I started my business over 25 years ago. I started it part-time while I was fully employed. Financing was out of my own pocket and was minimal at first. As the business grew I used the income from sales to grow since I had a full-time job to support me. By the time I went full-time on the business, it was pretty well stabilized.
 
From:
Darenda Kersey
Location:
Pocahontas, AR
 
Question:
What are the restrictions on selling baked goods out of your home?
Reply:
Darenda: This is a common home-based business, but you need to check with the local health department about selling baked goods out of the house. Almost jurisdictions have sanitation/health safety rules about this.
 
From:
Renee
Location:
Dover, DE
 
Question:
My business is no longer located at a brick & Mortar location. Instead, I have moved my business to my online website. What can I do to ensure that I am getting maximum exposure? My site is located at www.strikeaposeboutique.com. Thanks
Reply:
Renee: I looked at your site earlier and it is impressive. There is no sure-fire way of insuring maximum exposure. It’s a trial and error routine. Do you do Google ads? Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Kaboodle? Linkedin? etc. Use every way you can think of to increase on line exposure.
 
From:
Lee Arlington
Location:
Kearney, NE
 
Question:
Does Life Coaching qualify as a home based business? Are start up funds available?
Reply:
14 Lee: Thanks for the question. I am not familiar with “Life Coaching” so can’t answer that.
 
From:
Brian Dulaney
Location:
Taylor, Michigan
 
Question:
Im trying to start a Audio/Video business I have 3 other partners do we need separate tax I.D's?
Reply:
Brian: This is a tax question that you need a tax attorney or CPA. I would think the BUSINESS needsthe tax ID.
 
From:
Mary Hornek
Location:
Louisville, KY
 
Question:
How do you know where to find qualified people to help one build and expand a home based business? The most complicated issue I have found is conviencing people you are really working when your business is at home. Any good suggestions in helping them to understand?
Reply:
You have pointed out one of the biggest pet peeves I have. We have come to a place in our society when if one does not “work for someone else, some organization, or corporation” one is not working. For over 25 years I have had that question and still have it today – even from close relatives – “when are you going to get a real job?” or “are you retired?”. All you can do is point out you are running your own business and forge ahead. As to finding people to help, mostly it is a question of just asking lots of questions of lots of people and using You need to talk to the SBA/SCORE people about loans.
 
From:
Catherine Smith
Location:
161-19 88th st Howard Beach, New York
 
Question:
I need help in learning about starting my food business from home.,which would have my own recipies canned sauces and other products. Can you please guide me. Laws, food preserving,lab testing and other laws I may not know about. Thank You Catherine Smith
Reply:
Catherine: Thanks for joining the chat. I have no experience with food related businesses, but wonder if you have checked with the SCORE office nearest you. They may have someone who has experience in this area.
 
From:
Allondra
Location:
San Diego, California
 
Question:
I have a small business where I
Reply:
Allondra: Have you talked to a SCORE counselor? I would think they would be of use. Congrats on a good idea and I wish you well.
 
From:
Regina
Location:
Louisville, Kentucky
 
Question:
I want to start my own small business, there are francise already doing what I want to do. I feel there is room for more of us in this business. Is it smart to start on my own rather than buy a francise?
Reply:
Regina: It would seem to me that you need to see how wide-spread the franchises are in your area. It's tough going up against there organizations, but if they are "thin" in your area it might work. Good luck.
 
From:
Joseph Tuckan
Location:
East Orange, New Jersey
 
Question:
I am a service-connected disabled veteran. How does one apply for a certification to become eligible for a federal government contract? Thank you. Joe
Reply:
Joseph: I would suggest SBA or the VA might be able to help. Good luck to you.
 
From:
Silvia
Location:
Los Angeles, CA
 
Question:
When exporting your products have you used direct exporting or indirect, like trading or management companies?
Reply:
Silvia: When I sell abroad, I always deal direct with the customer. My business isn't big enough to use a trading company.
 
From:
Angel Ayala Leyva
Location:
Portland, Oregon
 
Question:
Is it legal to operata a car detailind business in portland?
Reply:
Angel: The way to check with this is to call your city hall and ask for the licensing office.
 
From:
Sara Dillinger
Location:
Atchson, Kansas
 
Question:
What kind of licenses are needed to start an online business from my home? And what are the tax implications - i.e., can a portion of the expense of upkeep of the home be charged to business expenses?
Reply:
Sara: Without knowing the type of business, I can't speculate about licenses. See the earlier questions re tax deductions.
 
From:
Dennis L. Ziegelmeier
Location:
Orlando, Florida
 
Question:
Is it necessary to have a web site? What is the most dependable way to learn about using the Internet to advertise?
Reply:
Dennis: It depends on what you are doing. Local businesses probably need them less.
 
From:
Nicole Lindsey
Location:
Pleasanton, California
 
Question:
I have two home-based businesses. What aspects of each should I combine and/or keep separate?
Reply:
Nicole: Thanks for the question. Without knowing the nature of the businesses, I can't advise, but I would get some advice from a SCORE counselor.
 
From:
Gizela Manuel
Location:
Atlanta, Georgia
 
Question:
I would like to ask a question regarding starting a home based non-profit business from home. Is that even possible and if so what are the steps and procedures to doing so. Thanks for your time in reading ans responding to my questions.
Reply:
Gizela: Thanks for your question and this will be the last one I can answer as we are out of time. The question I would ask is why would you want to start a non-profit out of your home? What would be the advantage? I would think you would want to connect with whatever organization you are benefiting.
 
From:
Barbara DeSalvo
Location:
Bethpage, New York
 

Well, I see our time is up. Sorry I couldn't answer all the questions. Thanks to you all for writing in and I wish you the best in whatever you try. Have a nice day, Boyd