Business OverviewEvery business needs those unsung heroes or heroines behind the scenes, the ones who do the word processing, filing and bookkeeping. But most SOHOs don't have the funds--or sometimes even the space--to accommodate assistants. If you've got the secretarial right stuff, you can be a small-business person's knight or knightess by providing business support services. You'll take on all those office tasks--word processing, filing, bookkeeping and even desktop publishing. The advantages to this business are that you can work at home, you get an insider's view of lots of different businesses, you're always doing something different, and your clients are appreciative of your services. Plus, with more and more small businesses out there, this field is poised for growth. And it's recession-sturdy--companies that might no longer be able to afford in-house staff will still need help, and that's you. You'll need top-notch secretarial skills, including impeccable spelling, grammar and punctuation. Many businesspeople skim over these tasks--part of your job will be to translate C- English into polished prose. You should also have good communication skills for dealing with a variety of different people, and the ability to decide which projects need immediate attention and which can be set aside for later.
The MarketYour customers will be small and home basedbusinesses of every type you can imagine. Place ads in your local Yellow Pages and newspapers. Network at your chamber of commerce. Introduce yourself and leave brochures at banks, insurance agencies, accounting firms, attorneys specializing in business--anybody who will have small-business customers they can refer to you. Give talks at local professional and civic organizations and get your business written up in local publications.
Needed EquipmentYou'll need a computer system with a laser printer, a fax machine, a copier and a sharp selection of software packages, including word processing, desktop publishing and accounting. You'll also want storage space for each client's letterhead and envelopes, plus blank and draft paper, extra printer and fax cartridges, and files for copies of clients' ongoing work.