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Is working at home for me? Can I do it-successfully? Can I afford to take the chance? I would encourage anyone interested in starting an at-home business to do a lot of research, talk to others who have started their own businesses (both successful ones and unsuccessful), ... AND look at your financial status, spending habits, etc. which is what I'm going to share with you this week.

Starting a home business is no small task. It takes a lot of organization, concentration, "stick-to-it-iveness", support from family, and TIME!

Find a niche that you can fill and give it a try. Maybe it's word processing or bookkeeping, or maybe it's carpentry or painting, etc. What do you like to do? What can you do well? What subjects or ideas are you particularly interested in? Could you make things or provide services in any or all of these areas? Think it through and check out the market for those products or services in your area. Are they "a dime a dozen" or is there a valid need for it or them in your area? "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." (Ecclesiastes 9:10a, NIV)

I guess maybe the biggest question is: If you didn't have to work outside the home, what would you want to do that would bring in money for you? Then give it a try, first on a part time basis in addition to your present full time job, in case you don't like it after all or it doesn't work for you. Then if it works, go for it! Don't burn bridges prematurely if finances are tight. Everything I've read says to expect to work at it for at least six months to one year before seeing real profit, so plan accordingly before starting in business for yourself.

Do some research on your particular area of expertise. Are there other people in your area doing the same type of work? Can you do it better or cheaper than they can without sacrificing quality? Or is there already an overabundance of your type of work in your area? Talk to the people in your area who do your type of work. Ask them if they have been successful.

An excellent book I can recommend to anyone wanting to start their own office at home is Word Processing Profits at Home by Peggy Glenn published by:

Aames-Allen Publishing Co.
1106 Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92648 USA
Phone: 714-375-4888
ISBN # 0-936 930-33-0

This book has been invaluable to me as I've thought through and worked through ideas I've had, how to get started, what to charge, and all those beginning questions.

One last thing for this time... Take a good long look at your financial status and your spending habits both as an individual and as a family. Are you an impulsive buyer or do you plan ahead for purchases? Are you a saver or a spender? Are you willing to sacrifice A LOT of things and time to get the business on its feet?

If the family is absolutely dependent on your paycheck (if you are presently working full time), then do yourself a favor, and try to start the new business in your evening and weekend hours until you see how things go. If you quit your job and the new business doesn't work, you'll be losing money, benefits, and vacation time that you'll regret later. If, however, your paycheck is icing on the cake, you may want to plunge right into that new business and scrap the 9-5 corporate world.

If you and your family take for granted those extra things like midnight pizza runs, a rainy day movie trip, or that week-long vacation at the beach, it's time to sit down with the family and do some serious talking. If your kids want Mom home, ask them if they would be willing to give up the pizza and movies for several months. If Dad just has to have that vacation to regroup and isn't willing to give that up, see if he could forego a couple of golf games or something. My point is that many times families are so accustomed to having everything that they are willing to give up nothing even for a short time... even if it means benefits to them in the end. Starting a new business definitely requires a certain amount of money spent to get up and running, and that amount varies according to what equipment you may already have, what kind of space is required to do your business, and supplies you'll need to do the work. Do you have funds available to foot the cost of starting a business?

BUDGETS scare some people. Some people say, "what's a budget?!" Some people have one but don't stick to it. If you don't have some kind of a family budget and are using it presently to track your spending and income, I would suggest you start with that. See if there are any ways you can cut back to accommodate new business expenses. If you don't have a budget, start one so you can get a true picture of your financial status before you move forward with your new venture. If you are fortunate enough to have extra money stashed away, great! Most of us don't-that's why we're looking to start our own businesses!

Next time, I'll share some personal tidbits regarding time management and resource management.

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