From the November 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

Q: I'd like to start a homebased business that I can run from Tampa, Florida, and Astoria, Oregon, as I live in each city for six months each year. I have secretarial, bookkeeping and resume experience. Should I stick with one of the above or try all three? And are these types of businesses doable in both locations?

Name withheld

A: Secretarial, bookkeeping and resume-writing services are among the dozens of businesses that can be run long-distance. The Net makes it easy to communicate with clients. Even within the same city, people find doing business via the Net is preferable to driving in traffic to meet or to deliver work.

You can draw clients for any of these services through the Web, but it's easier and more natural to attract clients within the communities where you live and work. By establishing trust relationships with clients during the six months you're living in one city, you should have little difficulty demonstrating to them that you can serve them during the rest of the year from your other location.

Usually, marketing two or three different businesses dilutes your effectiveness in the other ones, but in your case, why not market your three areas of interest together under one umbrella by using the term "office support services"? This term may not be as familiar as secretarial or bookkeeping, but it does have a professional association-the Association of Business Support Services International Inc. (www.abssi.org).


Paul and Sarah Edwards' most recent book is The Entrepreneurial Parent. Send them your start-up questions at www.workingfromhome.com or e-mail entmag@entrepreneur.com.