Cheat Sheet

Home-Based Business For Dummies

From Home-Based Business For Dummies , 3rd Edition by Paul Edwards, Sarah Edwards, Peter Economy

Working from home is all about setting up a good home business. If you spend time now researching the best business for your talents, creating an effective business Web site, recognizing scams that prey on at-home entrepreneurs, and setting up a productive business atmosphere, you’ll go a long way toward ensuring that your home business is a successful one.

High-Tech and High-Touch Ways to Earn Your Living from Home

Whether you like working with the latest technology or you prefer working with people, you’re sure to find a home business opportunity that meets all your wants and needs. If you want to start a business out of your own home, but aren’t sure what to pursue, use the following information as a platform to launch your research into finding out what’s best for you.

Here are just a few high-tech home businesses that are hot today:

  • Computer consultant for small and home businesses: This type of job can involve anything to do with computers, from minor computer and software troubleshooting to full network installations.

  • Technical writer: Many different businesses use technical writers to (re)write scientific and technical articles so they’re easier for most readers to understand. Common clients include hospitals, insurance companies, and financial institutions.

  • Virtual assistant: You can use your home-based technology to deliver services to clients globally. Business areas include marketing, graphic and Web design, IT support, and even language translations.

  • Web merchant and auction trader: You can sell goods to clients online, whether through an auction site like eBay or through your own virtual store via a personal Web site.

  • Webmaster: This position involves setting up Web sites and managing servers, hardware, and software for other businesses from your own home.

Here are some of the hottest high-touch home businesses:

  • Bodywork or massage therapist: You can specialize in many different massage and bodywork therapies. Be certain that you’re properly certified for the type of therapy you choose to provide.

  • Provider of elder services: You can choose from a myriad of businesses in the elder services field — from providing medical assistance to the elderly to assisting the elderly with legal issues. Do your research to find out how you can make the best use of your skills in this ever-growing field.

  • Financial advisor: Many people need help managing their estates and plans for retirement. With the proper education and certification, you can provide the personal financial services your clients need.

  • Pet sitter: Taking care of pets can be as simple as caring for one pet in either your own home or your client’s home, or as complex as running a doggy day care. Be sure to get proper accreditation and licensing for the type of operation you want to run.

  • Tutor: Use your expertise and teaching skills to help students of all ages improve and excel in class performance.

How to Create an Effective Home Business Web Site

Your home business’s Web site may look great, but if it’s not helping you sell more products and services, it’s a waste of your time and money. Here are some tried-and-true ways to build a Web site that’s a real asset to your home-based business:

  • Make sure you’re easy to find. Don’t make it difficult for your clients to find you via online search engines. Keep your Web address and content as simple and specific as possible.

  • Advertise your new address like crazy in daily correspondence. One of the best ways to get the word out about your Web site is to include its address on your business cards, stationery letterhead, invoices, marketing brochures, e-mail taglines, and anyplace else you can possibly fit all those letters and dots.

  • Give your visitors a reason to visit your site — and to come back again and again. If your site is boring, your client or prospect will click out of the site just as quickly as he or she clicked in. Look for ways to include interesting content on your site that gets updated regularly, such as a blog that lists your business updates or a thread that includes local or business-related news that may or may not affect your clients.

  • Capture contact information. Encourage your visitors to give you contact information, via e-mail or other means, that you can use in your organization’s marketing and promotional efforts.

  • Check your site’s statistics, and visit it regularly. Make your Web site your Internet browser’s home page so you can check it every time you go online and make sure all is well. Also, look for online tools that help you track who visits your site, when, and how often.

How to Avoid Work-at-Home Scams

Many companies hire home-based employees to sell goods or provide services for them. Although the vast majority of work-at-home opportunities are legitimate, plenty of them aren’t. For every opportunity you explore, follow these tips to help you avoid the scams:

  • Identify a company or product that appeals to you. Check with the Direct Selling Association (DSA) for a list of member companies, or look in your local phone book.

  • Take your time deciding. A legitimate opportunity won’t disappear overnight, so don’t let someone tell you that you have to make a decision right away. Think long-term.

  • Ask questions. Ask about the company, its leadership, its products or services, the start-up fees, the realistic costs of doing business, the average earnings of distributors, the return policies, and anything else you’re concerned about. Get copies of all company literature, and read it!

  • Consult with others who have had experiences with the company and its products. Check to see whether the products or services are actually being sold to consumers.

  • Investigate and verify all information. Don’t assume that official-looking documents are accurate or complete, or even produced by the company. (They may be created by the person trying to recruit you.)

How to Be Productive When You’re Working from Home

When you’re working from home, separating your home life from your work life can be a real challenge. Your home-based business is a real business, and, as such, it demands both a professional environment and professional conduct. To help you be productive when you’re working from home, follow these ten commandments:

  • Set regular business hours, so work and home tasks don’t interact.

  • Maintain a professional attitude when you’re “at work.”

  • Use technology (such as an automatic e-mail-based calendar) to leverage your time and yourself.

  • Set up a separate business phone line, dedicated computer, and other equipment and systems.

  • Locate your office in its own space, preferably in its own room.

  • Set specific daily business goals and track your progress.

  • Avoid distractions.

  • Stay organized.

  • Don’t become a prisoner to your home office.

  • Have fun!

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