Your home-based business is part of a massive piece of the US economy, more than you might realize.
Whether you work from home as a freelancer, a seller on Amazon, a caterer, an online retailer or any one of a number of other careers, you’re one of 38 million home-based businesses in the US alone. Not all of these are small-time businesses, either, as 20% of home-based businesses make $100K-$500K per year.
With this type of money going through home businesses, it’s important to keep one thought in mind: Is everything safe?
As you well know, there are certain pieces of equipment you absolutely must have in order to stay in business. For example, good luck with your catering business if your cooking equipment is damaged or stolen. And any online retailer needs to make sure they have all the stock they need. In fact, just imagine trying to run any online business without having a computer.
You might not have thought of securing your home-based business the way you would a business in a formal office or another building, but you should. Here are some valuable ways that you can keep your business protected at home.
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1. Protect Yourself Legally
In the beginning, it’s easy to think that you want to operate as a sole proprietor. After all, if it’s just you, that’s the most accurate way to go about things, right? Not necessarily.
Businesses come with legal risks that the average person does not encounter. However, when you work from home, things can get murky. A lawsuit that’s directed at your business could place personal assets like your home, investments and property at risk. If you end up keeping products and business equipment in your home to use in your business, things could be even more difficult for you.
For this reason, many owners of home-based businesses set up corporations or limited liability companies to better protect themselves in the event of a lawsuit. In order to make things even more secure, you will likely want to try and keep your business and personal finances separate. Also, be diligent in recording data so as to remain compliant with local laws.
Of course, it’s best not to open yourself up to legal action if you can help it. Avoid taking actions that are fraudulent or negligent, or your personal assets could easily get dragged into a legal dispute.
2. Make Sure Your Insurance Covers What You Think It Does
It’s easy to think that you’re being smart in terms of insurance because you’re working from home. After all, you have homeowner’s insurance, so you’re covered, right? Think again. That might not be the case at all.
In fact, 40% of home-based businesses are underinsured. The exact type of business insurance policy you need will vary depending on your occupation, but most home-based businesses require business property insurance. This type of coverage will protect your equipment and other tools such as computers and merchandise. Additionally, general liability insurance will protect legally in case of accident, injury or a claim of negligence. You might also consider a business interruption policy to provide you with income if your operations are disrupted due to a covered loss.
Many of the issues that businesses face fall outside of anything insurance covers. For instance, your business might not be covered for a delivery driver who is injured while dropping off a piece of equipment or a lawsuit stemming from a security breach. But being proactive will minimize the disruption these incidents will cause.
3. Implement Proper Security
Sometimes, the most threatening thing to consider is random physical damage. Most people have a job to fall back on. They can work their way back toward recovering from disaster if a burglar breaks in, or flood waters cause damage. With a home-based business, however, your home is your job. If you lose your business equipment through theft or damage, you will lose your earning power as well. Some of the ways you can lower your chances of this happening are:
- Avoid keeping multiple objects of value together, allowing for potential crimes of opportunity.
- Improve your indoor and outdoor lighting to deter burglars.
- Contact a locksmith if you need more secure window locks beyond a basic latch.
- Record the serial numbers of the equipment you use in your business.
- Invest in surge protection for your electronic equipment.
All three of these methods will help to ensure that your home-based business is safe. However, as things are continually changing, stay alert about what might be coming next. With this in mind, follow security experts for their advice. For example, Alder’s Linkedin page has regular updates and articles on security, many of which can be applied to your home-based business.