There are many entrepreneurs today who have set up a business from home selling items that they make or customise themselves. Anything from iPhone covers to jewellery can be turned into a profitable business through sites such as eBay and Etsy. But if you’re thinking of starting a creative business where do you start?

If you’re working from home and selling products to consumers then your own home insurance won’t be adequate. Business insurance from Direct Line for Business owners offers a more suitable level of cover.

For instance, product liability insurance will cover you against any claims from customers who have been injured or had property damaged by your products. An appropriate home business policy will also include business contents cover and compensate you for loss of income due to fire or flood.

Marketing and selling your products and services
It’s easy for your products to become lost within the pages of auction and shopping sites, so how can you make them stand out? A good web-marketing strategy will ensure that people know about your products and where to buy them.

You should start off with a simple website that showcases your products and directs customers to your eBay store or Etsy page. Encourage visitors to leave their contact details by signing up to a newsletter or news feed.

An excellent way to encourage word-of-mouth marketing is via social-networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Start by sending out links to your site to all your contacts and then they can forward them on and, hopefully, word will spread. Continue to encourage people to visit your site by regularly posting updates and tweets on new products and special promotions.

One of the major costs associated with selling products online is postage. Do some research and find the best option for the size of your packages and the volumes you expect to sell.

Royal Mail have a number of online packages, including a credit account, printing your own postage and SmartStampp, which allows you to print personalised postage direct onto envelopes. Parcel 2 Go offers a 5% discount for eBay sellers if you include their logo on your listings. If you’re looking for reliability, then My Hermes will attempt your delivery three times and offers a range of delivery options for eBay customers, as well as customer parcel tracking.

Understanding taxes
When it comes to paying the correct taxes, many small-business owners become completely confused. It’s important to understand exactly what you need to pay and when, including VAT registration, Corporation Tax, Capital Gains Tax and business rates. If you’re unsure then the HMRC and Business Link websites offer excellent free advice for new businesses. If it’s still too complicated then it’s probably wise to seek out a local financial manager or business accountant who can ensure you’re paying the correct taxes for the type and size of business you are running.

Starting your own business can provide you with a regular source of income and more freedom than working for an employer. However, it’s important that you get everything right at the beginning and start your business off on the correct footing. Once you have everything in place you can dedicate your time to producing excellent products.

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