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Thinking of Starting a Home-Based Business?

There are many businesses that have jumped on the telecommunications bandwagon; these companies allow full-time or part-time employees to work at least a portion of the day from home.

One immediate benefit is that it saves the company the expense of having to “house” the employee.  This means that another employee can use the freed-up cubicle or office. Or, the cubicle can remain empty, which saves on lighting, electricity and phone usage.

Many businesses feel their employees will become more productive working from home; it cuts down on breaks and social chatter.

Ostensibly, these employees are only paid for the time they are in front of the computer or on the phone.

Of course, the virtual employee saves on gasoline expenses, travel time and the cost of a business wardrobe.

If your company asks you to consider such a job modification, you’ll have to decide whether your work ethic can be sustained.

Will you be able to be just as productive working alone…without the support of co-workers?

Is A Work-At-Home Business For You?

If you are enthralled by the idea…if, in fact, you feel that you could work BETTER if you worked at home, you might consider setting up a home business.

Granted, it might be a safer bet to first ask your employer if they’d be willing to let you take your office duties home during part of the day or week (or month).  If telecommuting is a new concept to the firm, you might do well to break down the benefits, as described above.

Job Leads Still Relevant

If you set up a work-at-home office/business, know that the job listings you are reliant on now can double as potential leads.

Let’s say you start a business as an Indie publishing house – you will sell small books, e-books and audio books.  You might pitch the business to entities advertising for freelance writers or graphic artists.

Your production skills would come in handy and your editorial capabilities would definitely be worth pitching to such employers.

Not talking to the right department?  Ask to be directed to the person who’s in charge of hiring per-project contractors.

A Follow-Up System

Make sure to keep a tickler file.  You’ll need to follow up with interested parties.  A plain old-fashioned index card system might do the trick; or you might set up software that’ll cue you when it’s time to check in with your contact.

Pad Your Finances

If you’ve decided to give it a go on your own, buttress yourself with at least six months’ of savings.  You’ll need time to woo clients; they won’t hire you right away. You’ve got to introduce yourself and, with time, learn where your services might fit their budget and agenda.

Types of Work-At-Home Services

Not sure what sort of business to launch?

Set up shop doing what you do well – and that which your research has shown you is a viable business to be in.

Here are some categories which are popular with telecommuters:

Web-based photographer – These photographers save on the cost of a brick-and-mortar establishment.  They visit schools for the annual yearbook shoot, or are hired to provide photos for weddings — and attend these weddings with full regalia…camcorders, cameras, top-quality lens, tripods, and backup equipment.

A gallery of photos are sometimes arranged attractively online, so that customers can select their preferences and order via online forms.

If you see any job listings for photographers, you might venture to ask if the employer would consider hiring a highly experienced per-project vendor during gaps in the hiring process.

For instance, if a company is in the process of interviewing likely candidates who all need to provide their current employers a two-week notice , you might offer to be the go-to guy or gal who acts as an understudy of sorts until the “main actor” is safely onsite.

You’ll never know whether the company needs help in this arena unless you ask!

Concierge or Errand Runner – You don’t necessarily have to market your services to a hotel, but you might spend some time talking to a hotel concierge to find out what a day in his or her life is like.

As a home-based concierge or errand runner, your job might include the following:

Researching the best prices for major purchases; selecting and gift wrapping a gift for a child’s birthday party; waiting on line (either in person or on the phone); deciding on local attractions; booking tours; recommending a local chiropractor; arranging a car rental; picking up food, beauty, health and personal items; and other such tasks which require a thoughtful approach and discerning taste.

A Maker of Custom-Made Furniture – You’ll need all the tools that are needed to create furniture from scratch, and a space to display your items.  Of course, if you are already very handy with the sorts of tools needed to make furniture, and you own your own tools, you’re ahead of the game.

If you’re making lots of beautiful furniture for family and friends, word-of-mouth will sell some of your furniture, and of course you’ll be very grateful for those orders, but it’s important that you know how to go out and sell your items, as well.

This should be easy if you are a good craftsperson and have set up a shop where customers can come by to view your artistry.

Don’t let yourself be dissuaded by overly cheap furniture that is made en masse, or by competitors.  There’s always a market for well-made furniture that will last for years, and which can be passed on from generation to generation.

Online marketing – you’ll need snapshots of your furniture artistry –is always an option and you’ll have to decide how you are going to deliver your items.

Too, you can arrange for a gallery to showcase your furniture.

Furniture making is an honorable and elegant business.  Just remember to sharpen your copywriting skills, for mailers and catalogs.

Note:  In each of the above, and, indeed, in any business you set up from home, you’ll need to learn basic accounting skills.  A tax preparer at year’s end is also a necessity across-the-board (unless you’re preparing your own taxes.)

The business ideas we mentioned are the tip of the iceberg.  There are as many ideas as there are markets; you’ll have to brainstorm and come up with one of your own.

Or, don’t hesitate to run with one of the ideas mentioned here.  Just because there are ample businesses doing what you decide you’d like to be doing from home, don’t let that dishearten you.  Chances are, there are that many companies in the field because there’s a booming demand.

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