Oh, Give Me a Home

Roll up your sleeves and get your homebased biz off the ground with these 21 tips.

The allure of being a homebased entrepreneur is hard to resist, isn't it? And if you read our "No Place Like Home" feature, in which we told you about 10 great businesses to start from home, you've probably got a lot of ideas whirring around--or maybe you've already jumped in. Whether you're deciding on a business or have already started up, these 21 timely tips will guide you through your homebased journey.

Basics to Think About
1. Be wary of shady work-from-home scams promising big bucks. When in doubt, surf the National Fraud Information Center Web site for more information on scam-busting.

2. Don't know what business to start? There are a lot of great Web sites and books detailing the hottest homebased businesses. Check out our Start-Up Kits, Low-Cost Start-Up Idea Center or BizStartUps channel to find ideas on this site. There's also The Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century: The Inside Information You Need to Know to Select a Home-Based Business That's Right for You by Paul and Sarah Edwards.

3. Research, research, research. Remember, you're going to be married to this business, so it helps to know everything you can before taking the plunge. Talking to other (noncompeting) homebased entrepreneurs in your industry, reading trade magazines and visiting the library will give you the skinny.

4. Get real about money. Your business won't turn a profit for six months to a year--so don't expect to make $10K your first month. Decide whether you want a part-time or full-time business, figure out your household expenses, and determine how much money you'll need to stay afloat.

Prepare For Your New Business
5. Have a family powwow. Remember that starting a business from home is stressful for the whole family. Sit down and hash out the basics like money expectations, where you'll work and how your new career will affect household duties. The sanity you save may be your own!

6. Cover your assets. Don't fly solo without the proper permits and insurance. Just one mistake, and you open yourself up to costly fines (or worse). Call your county clerk's office, and ask what licenses and permits are required for homebased businesses. Then, call your insurance agent and get any coverage you need. You'll have the peace of mind of knowing you're protected.

7. Consult your advisors. Being an entrepreneur doesn't mean you have to make every decision by yourself. A strong group of financial, legal, marketing and lifestyle advisors can help keep your business on the straight and narrow.

8. Write your business plan. Not only is a business plan a requirement for almost all business financing, but it also gives you a clear roadmap of where your business is and where it's headed. If you need help, the SBA Web site has business plan resources and can link you to free one-on-one consulting.

9. Outfit your home office. Find a corner or a room in your house, and make it yours. Don't skimp on equipment like ergonomically correct office chairs and a desk that fits your body.

10. Open a business checking account. Separating your business and personal funds makes tracking your business expenses much easier and eliminates some stress during tax time.

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This article was originally published in the October 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Oh, Give Me a Home.

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