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Do You Have What it Takes to Start a Successful Home-Based Business?

Maybe you're tired of your long commute to the office. Perhaps your dream of selling jewelry online is beckoning (or your dream of climbing the corporate ladder hasn't panned out). Or maybe you long to make your own schedule, be your own boss and control your own future.

Whatever your reasons, you're thinking of starting a home-based business -- but should you?

work from home

Building a home-based business can be incredibly fulfilling ... if you have the right motives, personality and financial ability.

Starting Out on Your Own: Examining Your Motives

Over 13 million Americans work out of their homes. Some will succeed and have the ultimate in work-life balance -- a good career and plenty of leisure time to boot. Others will succumb to anxiety, lose motivation and be back on the job market in a matter of months. What sets one group apart from the other has a lot to do with motives.

"People tend to romanticize self-employment. They think everyone will wind up like Steve Jobs," (the Apple Computer co-founder) says Jules Lichtenstein, a senior policy adviser at senior advocacy group AARP.

First and foremost, if you are going to set out on your own, you must do something you enjoy. Primarily, this is because becoming an entrepreneur takes an incredible amount of self-discipline, and most people have a hard time devoting a lot of time to something if they don't enjoy it.

If your only motivation to start a home-based business is to not have to work in an office (and your business is not something you're drawn to), you may end up regretting the move.

Examining Reality

Once your motives are clear, it's time to do a reality check. Starting a home-based business takes money in the bank to cover inevitable start-up costs and lack of income while your business grows. It's going to affect your family, your social relationships and, yes, even the way you regard yourself. At this stage it's appropriate to consider the following:

  • Do you have enough money saved to support your business, as well as your own living expenses, while things get started?

  • Have you discussed the business with your family? How do they feel?

  • Will you expect your family to help out?

  • Will you have a place to work, or will you need to remodel to create an appropriate office?

  • Will you need to purchase new equipment (computers, etc.) or learn a new skill (Web site design, etc.)?

A Look Into the Psyche

What's Your Career Personality?

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Next you'll need to examine your decision from a psychological perspective. Running a home-based business means you'll be the one doing the marketing, the producing, the accounting and everything in between.

You'll also be fairly isolated, and need to be able to work independently and say no to distractions. Personality wise, entrepreneurs typically have the following traits:

Other Factors to Consider

Because the success of your home-based business will depend on you alone (maybe with the help of close family), certain skills -- from managerial to secretarial -- will be necessary. It's essential to ask yourself these important questions before venturing out on your own:

  • Do you have a network of contacts or potential customers? If not, do you know how to network productively?

  • Are you organized?

  • Are you able to motivate yourself?

  • Can you market yourself and/or your product?

  • Are you able to handle responsibility?

  • Are you in good physical health?

  • Are you a good decision maker?

25 Excellent Home-Based Businesses

Think a home-based business is for you, but not sure what the business should be? San Francisco Gate's Business Resource Center has compiled a list of 25 excellent home-based business ideas to get you started:

  1. Personal trainer
  2. Yoga instructor
  3. Tutoring
  4. Business coaching
  5. Consulting
  6. Medical and legal transcription
  7. Medical claims billing
  8. Accounting
  9. Web design
  10. Desktop publishing
  11. Photography
  12. Home inspection
  13. Remodeling
  1. Interior design
  2. Catering or personal chef
  3. Gift basket creator
  4. Wedding planner
  5. Personal shopper
  6. Concierge
  7. Custom jewelry creation
  8. Computer repair
  9. Cleaning service
  10. Carpet cleaning service
  11. A riding school
  12. Child-care services

Recommended Reading

Taking Risks: How to Take Calculated Risks to Get Ahead in Anything

How to Find Your Dream Career: 11 Key Steps


USA Today: The New Entrepreneurs: Americans Over 50

Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies

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