The only thing better than the smell of grandma’s chocolate-chip cookie recipe baking in the oven is watching cash roll in as customers order those delectable treats. Home baking is an approachable business idea in that it involves doing what you’re probably doing a lot of, anyway, if you love to bake. You probably have all the equipment and expertise you need to get started.
According to a study by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), America’s home-based sole proprietors generate $102 billion in annual revenue. With a steady rise in inflation and living expenses and less job security than ever, an increasing number of people are leaving their jobs to start home-based ventures. If you are ready to join these entrepreneurs, here are ten essential steps to turn your entrepreneurial dream into a successful home-based business reality.
I see it time and time again: The number-one challenge faced by brand-new small online business owners is a lack of traffic. Obviously, if your website isn’t getting any traffic, you’re not generating any sales. And what’s worse is that without traffic, you can’t test the key components of your sales process. And if you roll out a large traffic campaign before you’ve tested your site to make sure it converts maximum visitors into buyers, you risk losing sales and looking unprofessional to potential business partners and affiliates.
Expertise is another matter, but remember that writing can take many forms—from resumes to news articles to marketing materials and even thank-you notes. (You can even write for businesstown.com, although that gig doesn’t pay … yet.) There’s probably some form of writing you’re qualified to do. Plus, if you’re good enough with grammar and punctuation, companies will pay you to be a freelance editor. One friend made good money editing posts on a popular travel site.
For example, if you are an affiliate marketer for Musician's Friend, an online musical instrument retailer, you can advertise their products on your site. If a person visits your site, and clicks on the link that takes them to the Musician's Friend website, and they purchase an instrument within a certain amount of time (24 hours or more, typically), you get a commission on the sale.
A lot of people with middle-class income would like to create a robust investment portfolio to secure a financially stable future but simply have no clue where to start. If you have professional experience as an investment analyst or do a lot of investment yourself, then offering investment advice for middle-class investors is a natural move for you.
Getting familiar with the tax laws will be necessary as a home-based business owner. The more knowledgeable you are, the more likely you’ll be able to save yourself major bucks when filing your taxes. Paul Robert Edwards highlights 10 top deductions for home-based businesses, but consult your accountant to make sure you apply them correctly to your company.
I like these ideas! Besides being good ideas in themselves, they stimulate MORE ideas! Some of them reminded me of something I was reading about called Craigslist arbitrage – buying low and selling high on craigslist, kind of like the first part of the old Oregon Trail game, but with washers and dryers and bicycles instead of cases of crackers and horses. Sounds like fun! Anyway, that one about the pooper-scooper business, that works, I know because I was quite successful in the pooper-scooper service I started back in 1988! I’ve been in the industry for 25 years now, though I don’t go out and scoop any more.
But if you choose to bring employees into your home, you may want to set some ground rules to keep lines from blurring. Richard Rabinowitz runs a national, multimillion-dollar photo workshop series, Digital Photo Academy, right from his home. A staff of six works around the dining room table in his New York City apartment keeping track of teachers, students, and workshop spaces. Chaotic though it may seem, the business brings in over $2 million per year. Rabinowitz maintains order by enforcing the following seven rules.
Cash, or the lack of it, is one of the key indicators of a company’s success over the long run. If you have cash, you can buy and stock new products for your customers, develop innovative new services for your clients, pay for your day-to-day operations, and expand your operations. If you don’t have cash, your business will certainly suffer, and so will your customers and clients.
There's an audience for everything, whether it's making dollhouse furniture or creating organic dog food. With a specialty e-commerce store, you can reach those customers who are seeking your specific products. All you need is a web-hosting service with an integrated shopping cart feature or with e-commerce software, and your business will be operational in no time. You can even work with vendors to ship products to customers on your behalf, which means you don't need to own a lot of inventory. [See Related Story: A Small Business Guide to E-Commerce Shipping]
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).