From the February 2001 issue of Startups

Question:Is it possible to start a homebased business if you have no experience? I would love to start my own business, but I have no ideas. Can you help me?

Name withheld
Via e-mail

Answer: While owning or managing a business may not be old hat for you, you probably have more applicable work experience than you think. I believe passion is the single most important ingredient when it comes to getting a new business off the ground. Right now, imagine you're on a mission of discovery, and your first assignment is to find where your passion lies.

Think back over your life experiences, including when you were a child. What have you most enjoyed doing, and where were you when you did those things? Were you outdoors or indoors? Interacting with other people or alone? There are books that list hundreds of businesses you can start from home. But why stop there? My father, a born entrepreneur, used to say that anything could be a business. Whether you most enjoy mountain climbing or writing computer code, you can turn that passion into a successful business.

Passion will also help keep you up and running through the lean times-those moments when friends, family, business associates and the world may seem to be stacked against you. But it has to be balanced with solid business practices, including plans and marketing programs that help you communicate your passion to prospects and customers. You can either create a business of your own based on your unique concept, or you can purchase a franchise or business opportunity to run from home.

Check out Entrepreneur's Franchise Zone as well as the Business Opportunites to get started with your research.

Whatever path you choose, the final step of your mission is to learn how to be a successful business owner. Attend classes and read books. Join associations that offer meetings or workshops in your chosen field, or seek out a mentoring program that will pair you with a successful business owner in your area.

Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need by Rieva Lesonsky and the staff of Entrepreneur magazine.
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, our "Start It Now" columnists