Your goal in conducting preliminary market research is to choose a product or service that will be in demand by potential customers; and to size-up your competitors so you will know how to make your business standout from theirs. Look especially for those people whose needs are not being met by larger companies. Business experts label these “niche markets,” and fulfilling their wants are making many solo entrepreneurs rich.
Organize your family time. Once your professional life is organized, you may need to consider organizing your personal life. Maybe you noticed right away, or maybe it's just becoming apparent, that you tend to work around the schedule of your family members. This is especially true if you have children. A lot of people, especially young moms, decide that they're going to quit their jobs in corporate America and work from home in order to care for their children and save on daycare expenses. But in reality, if you're serious about running a homebased business and earning a decent income, you're going to have to make arrangements for childcare in or outside the home. Otherwise it becomes too distracting. Consider hiring a babysitter so you're guaranteed five to six solid hours to get your work done.
Even the portrait and general-interest options, though, aren’t really for beginners. Photography businesses can be complex operations, with lots of equipment required and years of portfolio and relationship building necessary to really get steady income flowing. Still, if you’re a hobbyist already, starting a photography business as a side operation is a great way to make some extra money and possibly begin a career change.
As a start-up, you shouldn’t be spending more than is necessary. Your website should look good and be easy to use and find information. It should not be overly expensive to create. In fact, as a small online business it might be better to direct your funds elsewhere, especially if you have concerns about cash flow in the company. Save your money for marketing your business online.
Like recycling, this side business idea requires the willingness to get your hands a little dirty. If you enjoy working outdoors, then you can make a pretty good side income cleaning up litter outside retail, office and industrial properties—especially for businesses that have large parking lots that need regular cleaning. Property management companies need their properties maintained litter free and you can do so with an on-foot service using inexpensive equipment like this cheap pick-up tool and a broom. Charge for your time at $35 - $50 per hour and bill your clients the same contract price each month. For even more on how to get started with a litter removal side business idea, check out Cleanlots.
Every household has a number of appliances, large and small. You can work on your own or on contract with appliance stores to cover their warranty service calls--or, best of all, you can do some of each. Plan to start slow and build your customer base on recommendations and referrals based on work well done. Consider developing relationships with contractors to be the go-to person to install appliances in newly constructed houses.
Dog walkers take pooches out for their daily constitutional one or more times a day, either individually or in small groups. In some cities across the United States, like New York, dog walking alone can be a booming business. But it's actually more common for dog walkers to offer additional services, including playing with and feeding pets, bringing in newspapers and mail, and turning lights on and off.
Kelly Lester, a stay-at home Mom from California, had an interest in bento - the Japanese art of food packing. She also had an annoying problem every day: how to quickly and efficiently pack healthy lunches for her kids to bring to school. Her goal was to feed her kids without boring them to tears or relying on prepackaged options that were more expensive and not as healthy.
To be successful, home-based business owners need to be aware that time-stealing temptations exist and take steps to counteract digressions before they turn into habits. If distractions seem overwhelming, the first step is to analyze the situation. If the problem lies with household chores, eating, or the television, the solution may be to get the distractions out of sight. If the problem involves family members or friends and neighbors, it may be necessary to have a frank discussion or family meeting concerning work time and free time. Options for resolving people conflicts include moving the office to another part of the house, hiring a baby-sitter or arranging for day care, or not taking personal calls during business hours. Ideally, an entrepreneur should set up a daily work schedule, try to work diligently for several hours at a time, and then take a break as a reward.
Department of Labor for the current statistics and demographics of different population groups to assess see what types of business products or services they might need or may wish to purchase online. If your business can solve a problem, or save people time or money, your venture will be more likely to have an “edge” over your competitors and succeed. People will have a reason to buy from you. When you believe you have a good idea and a potential profitable market, then write a business plan.
Set up a merchant account. Service businesses in the past had to generally rely on cash or check—setting up an entire credit card processing system was a thankless, expensive task at best. Using a service such as PayPal makes it possible to accept virtually any form of credit or debit card for your services, and includes dispute resolution should the need arise (and it will arise).