Feb 242011

Start small

A new home business is exciting venture. But if you’ve never started a home business before (or even if you have), there is a way to save yourself lots of headaches. Start small.

Building your business one step at a time has lots of advantages.

Test your market

Big corporations market test their new products. Home businesses can do the same thing. By starting small, you can discover if there is a demand for your product or service? Are you targeting the right market? Are you selling through the right venue? Are you charging enough or too much? Is your marketing effective?

Minimize upfront cost

Most of us don’t have piles of money to pour into a business or a venture capitalist on hand, ready to supply funds. Instead we bootstrap our business. We can use our initial profits to build the next stage of the business.

Start part-time

You can start your new business while working at your current job. You job will provide the funding for your new business and the necessary cash for living expenses while your business grows. Starting part-time also gives you a chance to find the right balance for work, home and family.

Make mistakes on a small scale

You are going to make mistakes in new business. Lots of them. We all do. But by starting small, your initial mistakes will be less costly and you’ll have a smaller audience.

Master new skills

A business involves many different skills: If you sell a produce, you need to learn how to buy in-demand merchandise at a good price and track inventory. If you provide a service, you need to do that skillfully. All businesses require planning, marketing, selling, customer service, paperwork and bookkeeping. If your business is on the Internet or uses social marketing, you need do be able to do various tasks there too.

By starting small, you can build your skills at a pace that won’t be overwhelming. You can also learn when it’s best to outsource work to someone else.

Learn from feedback.


As your business grows, you will be able to see what products or services sell well. If your business is online, you can use your web host’s statistics to see which pages have the most visitors and perform the best. You can test your marketing methods and see what brings in sales. Then you can build your business, your web site and your marketing on what works.

Dec 062010

6 Ways to Find Home Business Ideas

Do you want to start a home business, but don’t know where to begin? No problem. Get out a few sheets of paper. Let’s brainstorm some business ideas.

1. What do you enjoy doing?

It isn’t essential that you like what you do for a living. And if you do what you love, the money won’t necessarily follow. Still it will make working more fun. And that will make it easier for you to motivate yourself.

As a bonus, if you plan a business around you already enjoy, you will be knowledgeable about your subject. Plus it will be easier for you to do research and marketing.

Write down the things you enjoy doing. This is brainstorming, so don’t worry now if there aren’t obvious businesses you can create from your ideas.

2. What are the causes that interest you?

Do you have any special causes that are important to you? Again we are brainstorming. So just write down ideas that occur to you—faith, politics, assisting people with disabilities, helping the elderly, caring for children, protecting the environment, and so on.

3. What are your skills?

What are the skills that you use in your current job? How about skills from your past jobs? Don’t write down job titles. Write the various tasks you performed and the computer skills that you have.

Include your non-job-related skills too, like gardening, taking care of children, making candy and running errands. One local woman created a business doing errands such as picking up dry cleaning and shopping for presents.

4. What do you know?

Do you know a lot about any subjects? Have you done work or school projects in a special area? How about your life experiences? Have you coped with a chronic illness? Have you discovered educational resources to help students with learning problems?

5. Who are your customers?

Do you want to sell to businesses or to the general public? If you want to sell to the public, what groups are you most interested in serving? Are you planning to sell to young mothers, seniors, teens, artists, fitness fans or fashion lovers?

6. What do people need or want?

This is the essential question.  If there aren’t people who want to buy your product or service, you don’t have a business.

What problem can you solve? Have you noticed that people are having trouble finding daycare? Do they need help from a handyman (or handywoman)? Are local seniors having trouble finding the resources they need?

What are people spending money on during this tight economy? Have you noticed what sort of “must haves” that you, your family member, your friends and your children’s friends are purchasing?

Look at Amazon’s best sellers and eBay’s pulse to see what’s selling. If you are interested in selling arts and crafts, check out the “Just Sold” link of Etsy’s Time Machine. And try out some of your ideas on Google’s trends search.

But don’t just look for what’s hot.  Fads come and go. Ask yourself if there is a lasting business in this area.

The more people want or need your services or products, the easier it will be for you to make money.  See if any of the needs you’ve identified match your interests, skills and knowledge. And when you finish brainstorming business ideas, eliminate any that customers won’t want or need.