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2005's Top Five Homebased Business Opportunities Interested in launching a biz from home? Check out our picks for this year's hottest homebased biz concepts.

By Paul and Sarah Edwards

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Having visited the offices of the Color Association of theUnited States and looked through their year-by-year record datingfrom 1915 of the most popular colors selected in each season byauto, clothing and paint manufacturers, we found a surprisingcorrelation between colors and the economic times they'reassociated with. Dark colors seem to have accompanied recessions,drab colors dominated the war years, and bright colors found amarket during affluent times.

Thus the bright colors of clothing we've been seeing instores and advertising recently could be a harbinger of upbeateconomic times and maybe a good indication that now's a thetime to start that business you've been dreaming of. Butwhat's the best business to start? To help you evaluate yourchoices, we suggest using two primary criteria: (1) What type ofbusiness appeals to you sufficiently enough to motivate you to dothe marketing and the work involved? and (2) What type of productand service can you provide that people will willingly pay for?

While you're the best judge of what most appeals to you,here are five businesses that are promising to draw customers in2005:

1. Alternative energy installation. The rising price offossil fuels-oil, natural gas, heating oil and propane-is creatinga demand from environmentally conscious individuals to "getoff the grid." Solar panels and wind may come to mind first,but geothermal energy as a source of home heating and cooling isbecoming increasing popular, too. In addition to consumers,commercial customers, such as resorts and hotels, need back-uppower sources. Some real estate developers are using alternativeenergy for entire projects. A site that's a gateway to theinformation on the alternative energy field is

2. Online auctions. Commerce on the web continues togrow, and while eBay is the largest auction site today, Amazon are among the others that offer platforms to sell whatyou make, collect or buy. Hundreds of thousands of people now makeall or part of their livelihoods from eBay alone. A free newsletterfor keeping up with this fast-changing world is available

3. Daily money management. Daily money managers primarilyserve two types of clients:

  • Individuals and couples whose career demands are such that theydon't have time to tend to all of life's daily chores andneed help making sure certain bills are paid on time, checkingaccounts are in balance, bank deposits are made, charge account andcredit card statements reconciled, and records organized for taxpurposes.

  • Older adults who are physically capable of living independentlybut need help with the routine tasks of household finance.

The field of daily money management has grown to the point thatit now has its own association, the American Association of Daily MoneyManagers.

4. Tutoring. For the past several years, tutoring hasbeen growing in importance, right along with the increasedcompetition to get into the right schools and excel in class. Andthe pressure's going to increase: This spring, essay writingwill be added to the Scholastic Aptitude Test, and it's theopinion of many experts that most students are unprepared. Andthey're probably right: A recent national test found only oneout of four 12th grade students could write an acceptable essay. Sowhile there are many subjects you could tutor in, writing will bein keen demand. To learn more about the tutoring field, check outthe website of the National Tutoring Association.

5. Virtual assistance. Many self-employed people realizethat delegating is good business practice. But they also recognizethis doesn't have to mean hiring someone to physically work intheir home or office. They can get the help they need from avirtual assistant who works in either their home or some otherlocation, whether it's half a mile or half a continent away.Virtual assistants frequently help new companies get started orassist with the daily activities of a business whose owner travelsfrequently or simply needs additional help. To get started in thisfield, training and mentorship programs are available at sites likeAssistU.

Paul and Sarah Edwards are homebased business experts andconsult and coach on the subjects of the 16 books they'vewritten. Their latest book is The Best Home Businesses forPeople 50+. Free portions of their books are available

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