In today’s economy, home-based businesses, “gigs” and “side hustles” are becoming more and more popular as people look for flexible ways to generate more income. But, whether it’s a part-time pursuit or a full-time effort, launching and running a home-based business can be nerve-wracking for lots of reasons, especially security.
Whether it’s protecting oneself digitally, legally or physically, security needs to be addressed, and the earlier in a business’ life, the better.
With so much information being electronic today, it’s crucial to ensure a home-based business is digitally protected, especially if its data includes credit card information.
The Federal Communications Commission has suggestions for safeguarding a business against hackers and other risks. Among them are keeping security software, browsers and operating systems up to date, and run an antivirus scan after each update. As well, be sure that the firewall (software to keep outsiders from accessing a private computer, usually included for free as part of the operating system) is enabled.
If the home business computer is using WiFi, or if a smartphone is being used to access the system, passwords should be used, kept secure, and ideally changed every three to four months.
From a legal perspective, there are a number of simple steps that should be taken. First is to make sure the business name is clear to be used and not protected or trademarked. The Secretary of State’s office for the home state will have records of all registered businesses. These are often free to search or have a small charge. A free national trademark search can be done through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Incorporating protects the owner personally from lawsuits against the company, but there are different kinds of corporations, such as an LLC or S-Corporation. A CPA can help determine which is best, and will likely suggest getting a tax ID and/or Employer Identification Number. And, make sure the right permits or licenses are acquired. A bakery operating out of a home kitchen will need a health inspection, for instance.
Be wary of attaching a home address to the business. Some owners won’t want clients to know they’re operating off the dining room table while others may not want legal notices, supplies and other mail being dropped off at home. A P.O. box is a good option.
Don’t ignore the more basic dangers, either, like fire or theft.
Both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are essential. Smoke detectors sense flaming and smoldering fires while carbon monoxide detectors sense the invisible, odorless toxic gas that can seep in from a garage or result from fuel-burning appliances like cooktops and furnaces.
Of added concern should be burglars who may see office equipment through a window or “porch pirates” who steal packages left on door stoops. A home security system will bring peace of mind (and possibly lower insurance rates). For the budget-conscious business owner, it will be a relief to know that the do-it-yourself (DIY) options — in which homeowners install and monitor the systems on their own — are increasingly popular.
There is a wide variety of DIY systems available, but the wireless ones are the easiest to install as, aside from plugging the parts into sockets, there is nothing to connect. ALC Wireless has various options, ranging from door sensors and motion detectors that work with Nest, Alexa and Google Assistant to exterior cameras with night vision. They all can be operated via free smartphone apps so you can be anywhere in the world and still check in, but best of all, none of them require any monthly fees or subscriptions for data storage.
Keeping the above advice in mind will ensure that most of the major risks that come with starting and running a home-based business are dealt with, letting one focus on becoming successful.
Justin Wang is the founder and president of Atoms Labs, the makers of ALC Wireless. For more information, visit http://alcwireless.com.