The process of gathering information and writing a business plan helps the entrepreneur take an objective, critical look at the business idea and its chances for success. A home-based business may be related to an individual's previous occupation, but may also be based upon a hobby or the discovery of a unique business opportunity. In any case, the idea should be evaluated with an eye toward market potential and competition. Once the business is up and running, the business plan sets forth goals and standards for management and serves as an operational tool to measure progress. Although there are many ways to start a home-based business—including "moonlighting" while employed full-time, working part-time for an employer and part-time at home, and just taking the plunge—planning is important to all of them.
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]
Incidentally, helping others grow their wealth is also a good way to grow your own financial worth as a side business idea. If you have stock market and finance credentials, then you can earn freelance commissions or consulting fees, advising clients on how to get the best returns for their investments as a lucrative side business idea if you can get results for those clients—otherwise this business idea can be the fast-track to alienating friends and family, so be careful.
Create a structure that mimics what you had in the workplace. Structure your day so you have a start and finish time, with certain hours set aside for specific activities. A general rule is to spend the first hour of the day prospecting for new clients. Send your emails, write your letters and make your phone calls first thing so you don't forget to do it later.
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.
But many people put themselves in a very similar position by starting home-based businesses without considering the profit angle. Business is about profit, and without sufficient profit, you'll never have enough income to even pay the bills, let alone generate wealth. (For more on creating a business that actually produces income, see Change Your Business Model and Watch Your Profits Soar!)
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Techies can hedge their bets by doing some trouble-shooting work, too. On the service side, "the margins can be high because you're not competing with global operators," says Avron Barr, principal at Aldo Ventures, a software technology consulting firm in Aptos, Calif. Taken together, the "software publishing" bucket--which the IRS takes to mean both coders and help-desk types--boasts an average 14% pretax margin.
For example, you can’t work from your dining room table in the morning and then eat dinner there at night and call it your home office, says LuSundra Everett, an enrolled agent — that is, a federally licensed tax professional — who specializes in home business taxes. “It has to be a specific, designated area where nothing goes on but business,” Everett says. “It can be a desk or even just a closet, but it has to be a specific, dedicated space.”
“It’s a gazillion times easier if you can dedicate a room that you can shut the door to that really is your space,” Wolfe says. He recommends decorating your office so that it reflects the personality and achievements of your company, using artwork, awards, products, or anything else that conveys your vision. His home office is filled wall-to-wall with rubber ducks, and the space reflects his company so well that he proudly invites film and TV crews in, even though he works at home. “Film crews come in and say, ‘Wow,'” he says.
I have always loved a bargain and enjoy shopping around for the best deals before committing to a purchase. Over the years, I have negotiated with suppliers for the best prices and services for my clients. Now, I had to do it for my own business. As a small start-up, funds were initially low – and at times non-existent – so committing to long-term contracts was not always practical.
45. Smartphones: Just because your business is based from home, doesn’t mean you need to be stuck at home. A smartphone can help you run your business from anywhere. “Smartphones can create flexibility and accessibility while attending to the children’s needs,” says Monica Harris Mondolovich, who has been running a home-based business, MHM Editorial Services, for 10 years while raising two young children.
Another big suggestion is finding small and easy ways to test business ideas and assumptions. I think this is implicit in your post. For example, if you have an idea for a digital course, you may do a free webinar on the same topic first. If you can’t get enough people to show up for a free webinar, then there probably isn’t enough interest for a paid product on the topic.
Naturally, the next one on the list is coaching people how to deliver great speeches. Public speaking is the number one fear on most people’s list – some fear it more than death! This skill can prove to be handy in many areas – from pitching to investors, to delivering key messages at global conferences. If you’re a natural on stage, help entrepreneurs rediscover their in-born ability to communicate by selling effective presentation templates and online coaching classes.
Take time out for good behavior. It's not uncommon to find yourself working 60- to 70-hour weeks. But the good thing is, if you want to sneak out and see a movie at two in the afternoon, nobody's going to tell you not to do it. You have that freedom and flexibility as a home business owner. It can be tempting to work all the time when you start seeing how successful your business has become, but know when to relax. You've already established a smooth-running business. Take a break every now and then so you don't get burned out.
There’s more to being a coach or personal trainer than just being fit and loving to exercise. Finding a specialization is important, and licenses might be required for certain types of coaching roles. For instance, a friend in Boston obtained US and European soccer-coaching licenses before opening a successful one-on-one soccer-instruction business.