the Right Home Business for YOU
any attention at all to your email inbox and you'd be forgiven
for thinking that the only way to run a business from home
is on the Internet. Sure, many people are running spectacularly
successful Internet-based home businesses. Many, many more
are doing so even more spectacularly unsuccessfully.
what if you're not interested in running an Internet business?
What if you want to start and run a home business the old-fashioned
way? Where do you start?
starting any home business is the easy
part. The hard part's deciding what that
business should be.
do you even start the process of deciding on the right home
business for you? The key is to be methodical, realistic,
objective and patient.
1: Personal Inventory
first place to start is to inventory your skills, experience,
interests, and personality characteristics. These are what
you have to work with - your raw ingredients, so to speak.
a list of personal qualities and factors that you can throw
into the mix. Include things like: your personal background;
training and education; work and volunteer experience; special
interests and hobbies; leisure activities; your personality
of these qualities and factors make up what you know and
what you're good at.
2: Identify What You Like
one thing to know a lot about something or be good at it.
It's quite another to enjoy it enough to want to make it
your life's work. So, remove from the list you created in
Step 1 anything that you don't really, really like doing
or which plain doesn't interest you. No matter how good
you are at it. If you're lucky enough to like what you're
good at, as a general rule, stick with what you know.
3: Match Your Likes With Marketable Activities
1 and 2 still haven't suggested feasible home business ideas,
review the following activities that have proven marketable
for others and weigh them against your "likes"
from Step 2:
pottery, ceramics, leadlighting
Health and Fitness: aerobics instructor, network marketing
for a health products company, home health care
Household Services: cleaning, gardening, shopping
Professional Services: attorney, architect, interior designer
Personal Services: make-up artist, hairdresser
Business Services: business plan writer, meeting planner
Wholesale Sales: antique dealer, dropshipper
Retail Sales: children's clothing, widgets Computers - web
design, internet training.
get the idea. This is not an exhaustive list,
obviously. You can visit the AHBBO Ideas Page
for a list of over 500 home business ideas at
Step 4: Make a List of Business Ideas That
Fit With Your Likes From Step 2
time you're done, you'll have a hitlist of possible matches
between your skills and interests on the one hand and home
business ideas utilizing those skills and interests on the
with your list from Step 4, identify those ideas that you
think have marketable potential and then research whether
that belief is accurate. In order to have marketable potential,
the idea must satisfy the following criteria:
must satisfy or create a need in the market.
The golden rule for any business is to either find or create
a need and then fill it.
must have longevity.
If your idea is trendy or faddish, it doesn't have longevity.
Go for substance over form in all things.
must be unique.
This doesn't mean you have to invent something completely
new but it does mean that there has to be some *aspect*
of your product or service that sets it apart from the competition.
This is easy if you go for the niche, rather than mass,
market. Don't try to be all things to all people. You'll
only end up being too little to too many.
must not be an oversaturated market.
The more competition you have, the harder it will be to
make your mark. It's unrealistic to expect no competition,
of course. In fact, too little competition is a warning
sign either that your business idea has no market or that
the market is controlled by a few big players. What you
want is healthy competition where it's possible to differentiate
yourself from competing businesses.
all gets back to uniqueness. If you can't compete on uniqueness,
you must compete on price (or convenience). If you're forced
to compete on price alone, that just drives down your profit
margin. Not smart business.
must be able to price competitively yet profitably.
The price you set for your product or service must allow
you to compete effectively with other businesses in your
market, it must be acceptable to consumers and it must return
you a fair profit. If any one of these three is off, move
business must fit with your lifestyle.
If you're a parent of young children and you primarily want
to start a business from home so you can stay home with
them, a real estate brokerage business that requires you
to be out and about meeting with prospective clients is
obviously not going to work.
instead need to choose a business that can be conducted
entirely (or near enough entirely) from within the four
walls of your home office. Similarly, if your business idea
would involve having clients come to your home, you're not
going to want an unruly 3-year-old underfoot as you're trying
to conduct business.
financial resources must be sufficient to launch and carry
the business until it becomes profitable.
No business is profitable from day one, of course. But some
are quicker to break even than others. If your business
requires a considerable initial capital outlay to start
- computer, printer and software for a web design business,
for example - it will take you longer to break even than
if the only prerequisite was the knowledge inside your own
head, such as working from home as an attorney.
financial situation is such that you can't afford to quit
your day job until your business is paying its way, this,
too, will mean it will take longer to break even than if
you're able to devote every waking hour to your business.
Just do what you have to do. That's all any of us can do.
6: Business Plan
you've gone through the above process and identified what
appears to be the right business for you, the final "gut
check" is to write a business plan for your business,
much as you would for a presentation to a bank for financing.
Include sections for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities
and threats, and set goals for what your business needs
to achieve for you, by when, and how you are going to get
are plenty of good resources online about how to prepare
a thorough business plan. A great place to start is at About.com
Just type "business plans" into the search box.
it may seem like a waste of time and effort to complete
a business plan if you don't intend to seek outside financing,
taking the time and exercising the discipline needed to
really focus your mind on the important issues facing your
business, you will be forced to take a long hard look at
your idea through very objective and realistic eyes.
idea passes the business plan test, then you can be reasonably
confident that this is the right business for you. If you
come away from this exercise feeling hesitant, uncertain
and unsure, either do more research (if the reason for your
hesitancy and uncertainty is lack of information) or discard
the idea (if it's because you don't think your idea is going
to fly). If this happens, just keep repeating Steps 5 and
6 until you end up with an idea and a business plan that
you're confident is going to work!
it's frustrating to wait once you've made up your mind to
start a business from home, this really is one situation
where the tortoise wins the race. By taking a methodical,
systematic and disciplined approach to identifying the right
home business for you, you give your business the best possible
chance for long-term survival, hopefully avoiding some very
expensive mistakes along the way.
2002 Elena Fawkner
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based
Business Online ... practical business
ideas, opportunities and solutions for
the work-from-home entrepreneur. http://www.ahbbo.com
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