From the June 2001 issue of Startups

When you think about starting a homebased business, it's probably simple to visualize the immediate benefits. I won't mention bunny slippers and working on the lawn-those are the obvious stereotypes of homebased business owners. In fact, I probably don't need to mention anything at all-because whatever your reasons for starting a homebased business, they're your reasons, and they could range from wanting to cut out a long commute to wanting to spend more time with your cat. What's more important is what you do to get from initial idea to homebased business-the steps you take to make those "reasons" a reality.

Of course, when you're sitting before a blank canvas with nothing but a faint sketch of an idea in your mind, climbing those steps toward business ownership can feel like a struggle. Or maybe you don't even have an idea-you just know you don't want to work for someone else, and you know you want to work from home. But don't despair if all you've done so far to start a business is clear a corner of your kitchen table. There are ideas all around you every day, even if you're not the type to think creatively on a whim. One of the easiest ways to get a business idea is to think about a problem in your daily life that you'd like to see solved. Many good ideas were born out of necessity, or even out of what becomes a necessity. (Do we really need the Internet? Most people would say yes now.)

You can also start a business that's already been started, however. On HomeOfficeMag, we frequently offer information about proven business concepts: We've got free Start-Up Kits, which are detailed profiles of dozens of different businesses to start; a small-business bookstore, where you can buy start-up guides and books; and articles to help you get your business on its feet. This month, for instance, in "Wire Your Office for Less Than $4K," you'll find out how you can affordably equip your office with all the basics: furniture, a computer, peripherals, Internet access, a multifunction machine and so on.

So if you've been held back by thinking that starting a homebased business is out of your reach, do yourself a favor today and tell yourself it's possible. It all starts with that blank canvas.