Guide

Starting a business from home

IT for home-based businesses

The home business owner depends on technology - to find and keep customers and to keep in touch with suppliers, partners and contacts.

Email and the internet offer simple and effective methods of customer care and management, while IT can help you with almost every aspect of your business.

For more information, see the benefits of email and the internet.

The benefits of a website

Websites have become a must-have marketing tool for most businesses. Websites are good for:

  • attracting sales
  • branding your product or service
  • keeping in touch with customers through email updates

You might want to start by using an 'off the shelf' template site. These can come with in-built payment systems for selling online and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for pushing your site higher up in online search result listings.

For more information see search engine optimisation.

If you are thinking of selling products online, remember that you can also do this through existing auction websites.

Networking

You can use social media like Twitter and LinkedIn to keep in touch with other business owners. This will alert you to business development opportunities and help overcome any feelings of isolation you experience as a home business owner. For more information, read social media best practice for business and Northern Ireland business networks.

Working away from home

IT doesn't just allow you to build a professional office at home - it enables you to work on the move. Recent technology such as WiFi, USB dongles, smart phones and Skype means that you can work wherever you want - see mobile technology.

Cloud computing provides businesses with a way of managing data and software requirements over the internet - 'in the cloud'. This makes your business information accessible from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection and web browser. Cloud computing can provide a cost effective and flexible solution to your IT requirements - see cloud computing.