"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. "
- George Santayan
The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has been an eye opener in many aspects. Not only has it exposed the vulnerabilities of people, policies and systems; it has also brought to light the possibility of functioning from homes instead of crowded offices and commercial spaces. The compulsory norm of social distancing has shown us that when the need arises, most of the people can work remotely from home in almost full capacity and perform their functions like they would in their offices/cabins. It can also be seen that most of the job profiles have been permitted to work remotely without any hassle to accommodate the changing time. Thus, the limiting belief that state of the art infrastructure is absolutely essential to run a company or perform a job has been disproved. Similarly, in order to start a viable business and kinder the spirit of entrepreneurship, a huge commercial space with expensive equipment and a hefty investment isn’t necessarily a prerequisite.Since more people are becoming aware of this, we are able to see more home businesses growing and expanding. Furthermore, the dire situation in India created by COVID-19 and the rising unemployment has led more people to explore the idea of starting their own home business.
In this post, we will explore the basics of how to start a home business in a billion people strong market that is India.
What is a home business?
A home business could, in a nutshell, be said to be a business that operates and functions from the home of the business owner. It means that the headquarter of the business is located at the residence of the owner of the business1. It typically requires a minimum amount of investment and has very few employees. A home business is selling/providing products or services to consumers at a price and hence, the end goal is to create a lucrative business. At present, the medium of e-commerce or online marketplaces is a very popular mode of selling products (eg. Etsy, Amazon, Flipkart, etc. )or providing services (eg. Freelancer, Fiverr, etc.).
Who can start a home business in India?
The internet has made it rather easy to buy and sell products and services online. With a multitude of apps and online market places, essentially anyone with a good idea coupled with the willingness to execute the idea into a commercially viable system can start a home business in India. So, whether you are a home cook who can make excellent biryani or a baker who can bake beautiful cupcakes or have a knack for creating jewellery or sewing or creating furniture, you can pursue it at a commercial capacity from your own home. If you feel that you have a product or a service that you think you could sell to consumers, then you can start your own home business. Some of the popular home businesses in India are – freelancing services such as freelance writing, community management, teaching, blogging, etc; affiliate marketing, translating, baking, home cooked meals, incense sticks making, makeup artists, stylists, life coaching and many more. Another popular mode of starting a business with minimum investment would be by providing creative or informative content on online platforms such as YouTube. For example, starting a cooking channel on YouTube specializing in Indian cuisine in English, Hindi or another local language would open up the possibility of earning revenue through the monetary model provided by the platform2. Many Indian creators have not only garnered popularity but have also earned a lot of money through YouTube owing to the extremely large Indian audience on the platform.
How to start your own home business in India?
India is not only emerging as a global super power, but is also serving as a coveted marketplace for all kinds of good and service providers owing to its vast number of consumers. A clear indicator of the potential that India holds is the decision of tech giant Google to invest Ten Billion dollars over the span of the next five to seven years in India3 .The Indian consumer seeks variety, ease, quality and good service. Here are some useful general tips if you desire to start your own home business in India.
Decide what your business is going to be about –
the first and very crucial step in starting a home business is to put a pin on what exactly you will be doing as a part of your business. You have to be clear as to whether you will be selling a product (such as clothes, shoes, electronics, etc.) or offering your services (such as teaching, marketing, accounting, etc.). It is better to stick to one thing initially in order to stabilize the business and then proceed to add more ancillary products or services eventually.It can be very exciting and you may want to do ten things at once, but that temptation is best avoided. Don’t be afraid to start small.
Do your research –
information is freely available on the internet so don’t be lazy and do your research. Learn more about your business, study the market trends, see what’s new and popular, stay updated with the latest news. Do your research on the digital platforms, their services and how you can best utilize it to your advantage. This will not only help you understand your business better but equip you with more knowledge on how to face things better.
Know about compliance –
different businesses have different sets of guidelines, rules and regulations that required to be followed. Ensure that you are well versed with them and that you are in compliance with them. Following this practise from the very start will ensure that your business runs smoothly even when the business transitions to a larger scale. Consulting an expert could also prove helpful on this aspect.
Ensure quality of your goods/services –
consumers are riddled with options, so in order to draw them towards choosing you over all the other available options ensure that you maintain the quality of your products and services. Taking feedback from customers is a great way to gauge the performance of your product/service and to determine what improvement measures can be adopted.
Market your home business –
it is important to make people aware of your home business. Therefore, marketing would play a very important role in growing your home business as it will not only bring visibility but also draw more customers to try your products/services. However, marketing services are quite expensive and hiring an expensive marketing team may not be viable for everyone. Some easy and cost effective ways for marketing your home business could be through social media posts on various social media platforms, generating referrals from existing customers, testimonials from customers, interacting with like minded enterprising people, joining social groups, etc.
Learn about money and pricing –
learning how to price your good and services is essential. Make sure your terms of payment are clear in order to avoid financial conflicts.
Keep communications clear –
learn how to effectively convey the locations, the timings in which your products/services will be available as this will ensure that you avoid any incorrect information from getting conveyed..
Don’t procrastinate and start working on your home business –
don’t wait for the perfect website or the perfect menu card as it will lead to dilly dallying, instead start with the little that you already have in place and expand in time. Once again, the mantra is ‘don’t be afraid to start small’.
Separate your home life and home business life –
don’t forget to keep a separation between your home business life and your personal life. Although it can be a wee bit difficult owing to the sharing of space but try to maintain a distinction between the two.
It is now relatively easier to fulfill one’s entrepreneurial dreams and venture into the world of home business in India. With many options and possibilities, one has to start by selecting the right niche for themselves and then pursuing it keeping in mind the tips mentioned herein. One doesn’t need hefty investments or infrastructure to run a successful home based business. It is also interesting to note that many a mega successful companies like Apple Inc. also started out as a home businesses. So, with the right attitude, idea and execution, great outcomes can be achieved from humble beginnings. Hopefully in due course of time, we will be able to see more successful home businesses delivering excellent quality products and services in India.