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Setting Up Your Business -- Home Business or Store Front?

Here’s another question you’re probably asking as you start your funeral program business—should I rent a space for my company or work from home? As we’ve discussed before, there are no one-size-fits-all answers for every new business. The responsibilities and expenses you take on for your new business will have both your business and personal life, so let’s look at the questions that can lead you to the right decision.

Do you need more room than is available in your home?

This answer comes from looking at your current situation, just as you did when determining whether to work full-time or part-time. If you are already designing funeral programs as a hobby and are running out of space, it may be time to look at an off-site location.

On the other hand, if you are brand new to the business and aren’t sure how quickly it will grow, it’s probably not a good idea to take on the expense of renting office or retail space. The bottom line is that, for most of us in the funeral program business, having enough room for a computer, printer and supplies is sufficient.

Can you afford to rent a separate location?

Especially as you’re starting out, the expense of renting or leasing a separate location is a significant added burden. Depending on available space in your area, you could be spending several hundred to several thousand dollars each month to set up a separate business presence. Before committing to a lease or rental agreement, make sure it’s part of a realistic budget.

If space at home is at a premium, consider a hybrid solution available now in many cities in the form of ‘office suite sharing’ that provides an office or cubicle, a conference room for meeting with customers and clerical support, all for one monthly fee.

Will having a business location help build you grow?

Because it’s now so easy to set up an entire business online, the person starting a funeral program business may not ever find it necessary to have a storefront location. As you write your business plan, do your homework on how much income you’ll have to earn to pay for a brick-and-mortar location. You’ll also need to project whether the increased traffic and visibility of a storefront will result in an increase in business, or simply be a drain on your new venture.

Do you plan to work alone?

With a good organizational skills, one person can work from home for a long time, even while running a full-time business. If, though, you are already busy enough as a hobby to bring in extra help on most orders, you may need more room than your basement or spare bedroom offers.

Are you allowed to conduct business in your home?

Here’s another thing to think about as you plan: does your homeowners association or apartment complex allow home-based businesses? For most of us, especially when we’re first starting out, this isn’t really an issue UNLESS there’s the possibility of increased traffic from our customers. In other words, if you’re simply going to design, print and deliver funeral programs to your customers, and will be working with them primarily online or over the phone, it probably won’t impact your neighbors.

If, however, you foresee a large number of customers parking near your home or apartment for consultations and deliveries, it could cause a problem if there are neighborhood, apartment complex or city zoning rules governing home-based businesses. Save yourself a big headache by finding this out before you make your decision.

Answer the questions above as you decide whether to base your business at home or in a separate space. Be careful not to base your decision on dreams—it might be nice to envision an attractive office in a trendy part of town, but is it practical, given your funds, your business prospects and your actual need for space?

Final Thought: Keep in mind that, even if you say ‘no’ to a storefront location at this time, you may decide later, based on increased business volume and an actual need for more space, that it’s take to make the jump. With your finger always on the pulse of your business, you’ll know when it’s time!

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