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House Rules

Smart steps to get your homebased business off the ground

You could call it a hot business trend or a natural evolution. Either way, you'd be right. Advancing technology, dissatisfaction with corporate life and the ever-increasing collective strength of small business are all contributing to the explosive growth in homebased businesses.

According to research and consulting firm Find/SVP, approximately 18.3 million self-employed Americans work at home--and those numbers are projected to continue growing.

"Whether it's operating a full-time or part-time business, there's been a steady growth in homebased business," confirms Cheryl Eftink, deputy district director of the SBA in Des Moines, Iowa. "Homebased entrepreneurship fits the lifestyles and the work styles of more and more people each year." Technology has made it much easier to operate a variety of businesses from home, where overhead is lower, tax advantages are greater and the commute is nil.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Before starting any homebased business, however, you must be able to answer two critical questions: Are you personally suited to working in a homebased environment? Can your business idea succeed without a commercial location?

Successful homebased business owners are disciplined but flexible self-starters who thrive on challenges. To make sure you're the kind of person who will enjoy working from home, Pam Meyers suggests taking a personality or aptitude test before moving forward with your business. Meyers owns Independent Business Solutions in Oklahoma City, a homebased service that provides independent administrative assistance to other businesses. She says such tests are administered through temporary employment agencies or by local colleges and universities. The fee is usually modest--typically, $50 to $75--and what you discover about your abilities can be invaluable in ensuring your success. For example: "You may find that you're not cut out to handle a homebased business solo, but that you could develop a business with another person," Meyers says.

Once you have an idea of the type of business you want to start, consider what you need in the way of space, equipment and location. Then evaluate your home to see if it meets those needs.

Jacquelyn Lynn is a freelance writer in Winter Park, Florida.

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