Any Questions?

Decide Your Business and Fees

1. I have a PC, a scanner, a printer and a home office-how can I make money at home?

In hundreds of ways, ranging from providing office support services and designing Web sites to pet-sitting and running a personal chef business. After all, you have the tools necessary for almost any business today.

To narrow the field and find your perfect business, you must answer three major questions: (1) What motivates you? (2) What skills do you have or are you willing to learn? (3) Which of your skills will people pay for?

2. How do I determine whether there's a market for (fill in the blank)?

Contrary to popular opinion, most true entrepreneurs aren't big risk-takers. They want to know what people will pay for before they risk time and money putting their ideas on the market. The two best ways to determine market viability are to ask prospective customers and to contact others in the field. While local entrepreneurs may regard you as a potential competitor and be reluctant to share market information, you can find contacts on the Web on "online forums," dedicated Web sites found through search engines and newsgroups via dejanews.com. Also, industry trade associations sometimes research the market and publish the results in newsletters and special reports.

3. How much should I charge?

The price you charge for your product or service should reflect four elements: (1) your salary, including "benefits" such as health insurance, (2) ongoing costs of being in business, i.e., your business overhead, (3) your direct costs (materials, travel expenses, etc.), and (4) a profit with which you can build your business. Your price needs to be high enough to cover those elements, but not high enough to turn off people otherwise willing to do business with you. Starting out, you may wish to base your price on the median of your competitors' prices or at a point just below the going rate.

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This article was originally published in the October 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Any Questions?.

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