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Starting a Home Based Business

Tip # 1
Don't Doubt the Viability: Take Working Home Business Opportunity Seriously

If you're seriously considering starting Home Business Opportunity, you're not alone. Some 50 million Americans are currently doing so, compared with six million in 1984, according to the National Association of Home-Based Businesses. In five years, it is estimated that as many as one of every two workers will be engaged in a full- or part-time business or doing salaried work at home. For single parents and many women, this alternative facilitates juggling family and career. For fathers, it can lead to spending more time with their children. Working from home can provide the means for stretching a tight budget or finding a new career for those displaced by corporate downsizing. For the retired or the increasing number of people considering early retirement, it becomes a way of contributing, of staying alive and vibrant by not allowing their professional skills to atrophy. And for many with handicaps, it's the door to self-sufficiency and a productive future.

Tip # 2
Don't Speculate: Choose Working Home Business You Enjoy and That People Will Pay For

Selecting an appropriate home-based business for yourself requires tuning in to the most popular radio station in the world: WPWPF ("What People Will Pay For"). And simple market research will help you do just that. Begin by asking prospective customers what they need. Go to trade shows and get feedback on your potential product or service. Find out who is in that business now and what advantages you might be able to offer over your competition.

If you are having trouble finding the ideal business, here are four possibilities:
* Turn what you most enjoy into a home-based venture, such as a favorite hobby or interest.
* Utilize existing skills from your salaried job.
* Solve a problem that people are willing to pay someone else to do for them.
* Use technology and resources you already have around the house, from your van to your computer.

Tip # 3
Don't Be One of Hundreds: Define Your Niche

It is much easier to market yourself as a specialist serving a particular niche. This helps you stand out from the competition, and also allows you to charge a decent fee because you are more than a general "worker" people can hire as an employee or from a temp agency.

There are four primary ways to define your niche:

* WHO you serve -- e.g., a computer consultant who works only with women; a public relations firm that specializes in assisting environmentally-conscious companies; a caterer who handles parties and weddings for the Hungarian community.
* WHAT you provide -- e.g., a computer consultant who works only with Macs; a public relations firm that specializes in doing publicity book tours for authors; a caterer who prepares health food that looks and tastes decadent.

* WHERE you work -- e.g., a computer consultant who focuses on the east side of town; a public relations firm that specializes in getting media coverage in foreign countries; a caterer who has attained renown for servicing a variety of outdoor events.
* WHEN you are called upon -- e.g., a computer consultant who is available for weekend and after-hours calls; a public relations firm that specializes in crisis communications for companies involved in scandals or tragedies; a caterer who can be counted on to handle even last-minute dinner parties with aplomb.

Tip # 4
Don't Sell Yourself Short: Charge What You Are Worth

The truth is that no one automatically knows what to charge; people generally have to discover what is both appropriate and competitive. Begin by doing some basic research to determine the following:

How much is your product or service worth in concrete terms? Value, like beauty, is in the mind of the beholder to a certain extent. There are several ways to ascertain the value of what you offer to prospective customers. Can someone currently obtain this product or service elsewhere? If so, how much are they paying for it?

What will people actually pay? Perception can be as important as the actual value of the product or service being offered. If potential customers perceive your price as being too high, you'll end up without a sale. By comparison, if buyers perceive something as being too cheap, they'll worry that it may be inferior in quality.

Above all, be careful not to sell yourself short. Consider following this commonly-used pricing formula:

Direct Costs + Overhead + Profit = Your Price

* Direct costs refer to costs you incur in doing your job: gas, telephone calls, postage, printing and your time. Calculate your salary -- including fringe benefits -- into your rates. Remember to add enough to cover the hours of un-billable time you spend marketing and administering.

* Overhead refers to the general costs of doing business: equipment, software, utilities, office supplies, advertising and marketing expenses, and administrative costs. Most home businesses multiply their hourly wage by two or three to cover overhead.

* Profit is an amount calculated over and above direct and indirect expenses; many experts advise adding 15 to 20 percent or more.

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