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Financial Health: Seven Things to Help
Determine Your Work-At-Home Business

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So, you want to join the rapidly rising army of the work-at-homers! You want to unite with others who have told of greater freedom, find more opportunity to use those neglected talents, and gain more control of their lives. You hear the call of the dream of independence.

The possibilities that you can pursue are only as limited as your imagination, as well as the many ways to get it started. There are, however, many wrong-turns that can be made on the road to a successful home business, as well as people who would gladly divest you of your hard-earned money. Before you begin, here are seven things that will help you avoid a number of unnecessary problems, and heartaches.

1. Determine your time limitations. Ask yourself: “How much time can I devote to this business — each day, and each week?”

This should be the first question asked, simply because many businesses are more demanding than others are. Some may require a greater investment of time at the start before any profit can be seen. If you hope to start a business that will run itself, think again. Although it sounds good, the basic rule is that you get out of it what you put into it.

2. Calculate your investment ability. Figure out how much you want to invest in this business. You will not want to assume that you will make a great profit as soon as you hang out your sign. Keep some money in reserve.

A limited budget may rule out certain types of businesses — no matter how good they sound.

3. Research the business opportunity. Do your homework in selecting the business you want.

There are basically two types of businesses that a person can do — they will either offer a product (such as Avon), or perform some kind of service (baby-sitting, type resumes, mowing lawns, etc.). There are many possibilities these days, and the list is always growing. But do your homework and read articles, both pro and con, about the business you are looking at (or, at least, a similar one).

4. Perform a reality check. If you are going to be working with a company, or an online business, take a few minutes and do an honest reality check first.

Depending on the source of your initial information about a particular business there may be a lot of hype (or outright lies involved). Again, the basic principle is: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be especially careful of businesses that require a large start-up fee. Go online and check the following:

See if there are various recent and valid sounding criticisms (remember that not all criticisms are valid) against that particular company. Also, do an online search (using the company's name) and you may find other postings, blogs, etc. that may give you some other valuable insight.

Read carefully the ads about the business and ask yourself: Is the ad honest, or does it raise unrealistic expectations? Does it honestly attempt to answer your valid questions? Does the tone of the ad talk to you like you're an idiot, or like a real human being? Are they going to give you any personal support? (Look for a phone number — and try it. Some web sites show phone numbers, but no one will ever answer it — and if they don't, what are they trying to hide?)

If another company is going to be writing your paycheck, find out how often, where, and how much?

5. Figure out your startup costs. Get a good idea of what your startup and daily operations are going to cost. Remember that you may go awhile before you get any customers — reality check.

Some possible expenses that you may want to include in your office are:

  1. Office equip such as a fax machine, computers (with backup capability), hi-speed Internet service, a good printer, software (financial, editing, graphics), desk(s).
  2. Printed needs such as business cards, brochures, order forms, flyers, and advertising, etc.
  3. Plus, you will not want to forget the secretary, or other employees, and any insurance you may need.
  4. For a presence on the web, you need a web page. For a good one that looks professional, you may need a designer, and a writer to write the content of your web page (your brochures, too).

It is true that people will judge your business by the quality of these things; so you will want to make a good first impression.

6. Obtain the necessary licenses. If your business is not online only, your city, township, or county may require you to obtain a business license, and zoning could be a problem. Find out before you put that ad in the newspaper. These laws do change.

7. Create a workable business plan. This document is your strategy in getting your new business off the ground. You will want to make it as practical as possible.

For advice on how to create your own business plan, you can perform a search online for creating a business plan, and find many web sites that will be of a great help to you. Some of them will even have a template that you can use, and all you have to do is modify one of them to suit your particular situation.

Once all of these things have been looked at — and settled — its time to set a target opening date, get ready, and open for business. Have fun, and enjoy it.

For further advice on how to start a business, a number of web sites even offer free courses to teach you what you need to know.

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