|From time to time (at least once a day actually) I'll get an |
impossible-to-respond-to email that says something like,
"How can I work from home?", or "I want to start my own
home business. Please send info." or even, "Please send
free info.". Naturally such vague, generalized requests are
not, for reasons of time (among others), going to elicit a
particularly helpful response but it does exemplify the
mindset of a proportion of my site visitors - they think they
want to start a home business but where on earth do they
HOW DO I START A HOME BUSINESS?
The best advice I can give to someone who asks a question
as vague as this is that they're asking the wrong question.
The first question they should be asking themselves is:
"SHOULD I start a home business?", not HOW do they do so.
The person who asks how to start a home business has not
given much, if any, thought to what they might do as such
a business (otherwise, their question would be "How do I start
an errand service home business?" or "How do I start a gourmet
gift basket home business?").
So, first things first. Why do you want to start a home
business? What are the advantages as you see them?
What are the disadvantages? What entrepreneurial qualities
do you bring to the table that make you think you could
make a success of your own business? What is your plan?
What product or service will you market? Who are your
customers? When will you give up your day job? Are you
thinking about this because you just LOST your day job
(if so, warning bells should be ringing very loudly!)? A home
business is most definitely NOT for everyone and it's
certainly not a solution to unemployment per se.
There are financial considerations too, obviously. How will
you support yourself until you generate a profit? Where will
you obtain financing?
For more thought starters, read "Look Before You Leap ...
Is a Home-Based Business REALLY For You?" in the AHBBO
Articles Library at http://www.ahbbo.com/lookb4uleap.html .
Assuming you work your way through the above considerations
and conclude that you do, indeed, want to start your own
home business, then, and only then, should you ask "HOW do I
start a home business?"
There are as many answers to this question as there are
individuals who ask it. There is no one answer that fits all
sizes. Generally speaking, however, the process of starting
one's own home business can be broken down into seven
=> IDENTIFY YOUR PASSIONS
If you're truly starting at ground zero and you don't already
do something on the side that you'd kind of like to see if
you could make fly, your first step is to decide what it is
you'd like to do as your business.
I'm a firm believer in following your passion, whether that
be for gardening (start a herb and spice business or
cultivate cuttings for distribution via mail order), lead-
lighting (design and create stained glass lampshades),
accounting (run a home-based small business accountancy
service) or website design. It doesn't matter whether
other people are equally as passionate about what
you're passionate about. It's YOUR passion that counts
and it's YOUR passion that will propel you towards
success. Do something you love to do in other words.
Make your work your joy and you won't be able to help
=> IDENTIFY A NICHE MARKET FOR YOUR PASSION
Now, it's one thing to know what you're passionate
about, it's quite another to identify an unmet need in
that field. But that's what you must do if you want to
turn your passion into a truly profitable business venture.
Identifying your niche is a pretty straightforward
1. Identify your general category and sub-category
Let's say your general passion is gardening. Gardening is
your general category. Let's also say that you're
particularly interested in growing herbs and how they
can be used for cooking and medicinal purposes. Herb
growing is your sub-category.
2. Hang out with people interested in your sub-category
In order to identify unmet needs in your sub-category
(step 3.), you must find out from people interested in
your sub-category what they're looking for that they
can't find. A good way to find out is to hang out where
they hang out - offline and on. Offline, you may belong
to a local gardening club or cooking class at which you
hear that so-and-so has been looking high and low for
a certain type of specialty herb that isn't commonly
grown in your country. Online, you may sign up for
mailing lists and hang out in newsgroups to listen to
what people are asking time and again.
3. Identify unmet or under-met needs in your sub-category
If you follow step 2, chances are, if you hear the same
things repeatedly, you've found potential unmet needs
or needs that aren't being adequately serviced by your
competition. After all, if the need is being met, it won't be
the subject of repeated questions.
4. Inventory your experience, interests and competencies
In order to decide what to focus on in particular out of
a group of potential unmet or under-met needs, take account
of your experience, interests and competencies. People are
generally good at what they enjoy and are interested in,
5. Fill the unmet or under-met need
Once you've identified the unmet need(s) in your
sub-category, you can start thinking about how your
business can fill that unmet need.
=> SURVEY THE MARKET AND YOUR COMPETITION
At this stage, you need to take your business idea
and survey your niche market and your competition.
If you have competition, can you be better? If your
market is dominated by a few large, well-established
players and you really don't bring anything new or
different to the table, then the competition is probably
going to be too stiff. On the other hand, if that
competition is focused on the high end of the market
leaving the lower end largely uncatered for, then this
could well be an excellent niche for you.
The bottom line is to identify your best competition in
your niche and decide whether you can be better.
Only if you believe you can be the best in your
niche should you proceed. If not, keep looking until
you find a niche perfectly suited to your particular
blend of experience, interests and competencies in
which you can be the absolute best.
=> BUSINESS PLAN
Once you've identified your niche and surveyed your
market and competition and are reasonably confident
you can be at least as good as your best competitor,
it's time to get down to brass tacks.
This is where you take your business idea and shape
it into a battle plan. Formulating a business plan is
goal-setting for your business. For a more detailed
treatment of writing a business plan, read
"Putting the Plan Back Into Your Business Plan"
at http://www.ahbbo.com/busplan.html .
Once you've thought through and recorded your
business plan you should have an extremely
thorough understanding of your industry and the
challenges you must overcome to make a success
of your business. Take your business plan and
establish objectives, goals (which support attainment
of the objectives) and tasks (which support attainment
of the goals).
Put your tasks and goals into action to achieve
your objectives. Decide where you want your business
to be in five years time and work backwards until
you have 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 year objectives and goals
to support them and tasks to support the goals. The
end result should be a daily to-do list of things that
will directly lead you closer to the achievement of
your goals and objectives.
Once you have your daily to-do list, DO IT! The best laid
plans of mice and men are useless if not translated into
action. It's action that will propel you and your business
towards success. Mere thoughts and plans are necessary
but insufficient. They must be translated into activity.
If possible, transition from whatever you're doing now
into your business. Test the waters, in other words.
If you're currently in a paid job, stay there and run
your business part-time, taking the risk on someone
else's nickel until you can be confident this thing's
going to float. Know when you're better off devoting
your full time and attention to your business (i.e.,
know when an hour of your time is worth more when
spent invested in your business than your job) for
that is the time to shift into full-time entrepreneurship.
=> MAKING THE LEAP
Finally, make the leap with faith and courage. Sure,
you'll have moments of self-doubt, thoughts of
"can I do this?" when you're wondering where the next
order's going to come from and you think back to the
nice, safe, secure paycheck you used to be able to
count on in your job. But recognize these insecurities
for what they are. They are your mind playing tricks
on you. You can do anything you set your mind to.
You just have to want it badly enough. So, when the
time comes to make the leap, do it and hold nothing
back. Your success or failure is up to you alone.
There are no excuses.
So, in answer to the question "how do I start my own
home business?", it's quite simple really. You do what it
About the Author
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ...
practical home business ideas for the work-from-home
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