Set Up Shop

April 24th, 2010 by | Print


This is post 7 of 10 in a series discussing the essential steps for launching a successful, sustainable solopreneur business. If you missed the disclaimer post, it is helpful if you take a minute to read it before going forward. Here’s the link to the post.

So far I’ve covered the following sequential steps:

1. Define Your UVP and Prime Prospects

2. Perform Your Market Research

3. Create Your Business Plan

4. Square Away Your Finances

5. License, Permits, Certifications and Legal Structures

6. Develop Your Products

Today’s topic discusses setting up shop – whether it’s a home office or another space.

Let’s start with what is the likely scenario for solopreneurs … working out of the house.

Here’s the quick checklist of action items:

1. Check your local zoning laws.
You should have already taken care of this during step 5, but in the event you missed it, you’ll need to make sure you meet all legal requirements for running your type of business out of your house, especially if you are doing any manufacturing, testing, storing of potentially hazardous materials or if you will have customers coming to your house.

You can verify be checking with the city or county office in your area that enforces zoning laws.

2. If possible, set up a separate workspace.
Your business requires focus. Unless you live alone, set up a separate room that you dedicate to your business. Working from the kitchen table with the kids and significant other interrupting every 15 minutes with requests for attention will not work. With a separate office, you can get in “the zone”.

If you are having a difficult time keeping healthy boundaries between your business space and your kids, I recommend you read up on an interview I did with Amy McCready, a positive parenting expert.

3. Set up your business accounts.
Remember to set up your various business accounts … from domain names to web hosting, bank accounts, credit cards (and other lines of credit), payment processing accounts, vendor accounts, email accounts and other online accounts.

4. Set up separate communication lines.
From phones, to faxes and email addresses, set up separate communication lines for your business from those for personal use. If you don’t, some customers may not find it so cute if they call and your four year old daughter answers the phone. Plus, keeping separate lines helps you track your true operational costs better.

5. Protect your information.
Now that you’ve set up your communications and computers, make sure you protect any critical data. In addition to organizing your information in filing cabinets and on your computer, you may need to buy a safe for storing money and other important data. Plus, you will definitely need to set up some form of back up for data on your computer. Viruses are a common occurrence and computers die. You don’t want all of your business data to die with it. And for the paper data you do want to dump, send it through a paper shredder if it has confidential data.

6. Purchase the necessary furniture, fixtures and equipment.
Hopefully, these requirements are a minimum. You want to keep your start-up costs to what is necessary. Save the frivolous buys for later when your business generates a profit. When possible, look into buying used. With the high unemployment rate and many small businesses struggling, you can find great deals on a wide variety of items.

7. Everything has its place.
An organized office is a productive office. You will need to determine what is necessary for filing cabinets, shelving and desktop organizers.

8. Set up your motivators.
Why are you starting up your own business? What are your goals and objectives? Whether you find inspiration from pretty pictures, a photo of a particular goal, your mission statement or a whiteboard with your goals and objectives, make sure you have a daily, visual reminder of the benefits of staying focused.

9. Track your expenditures.
You can’t know your true profitability if you don’t track all of your expenses. Purchase your equipment, furniture and supplies on a business credit card or file away all of your receipts. You’ll get a better picture of your actual cash flow, plus have more to give your accountant for tax breaks if you keep track of these expenses.

Setting up an offsite office includes most of the above requirements, plus:

A. Location, location, location.
For whatever reason you choose to work out of an offsite office instead of your home, finding the right location is critical. Do you anticipate walk in traffic? Will it be easy for customers to find you? Does it offer enough of safe parking? How is the neighborhood? Is it safe? Does it offer the optimal set-up? Does a shared office with a receptionist and a meeting room provide the best professional image?

B. Make sure you are up to code.
Separate from the zoning requirements mentioned above, make sure you meet any safety codes. The best way to verify this is to check with your local building and safety code department and fire department. You don’t want a surprise visit resulting in a fine.

At this point, you’re getting close to hanging the “Open” sign on your business. It’s an exciting feeling!

Next up in this series, “Launch Your Marketing Campaigns”.

All the Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide


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