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Are you cut out for running a home business?

By Pam White
Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Thinking of starting a home business? This article will help readers decide if they have what it takes. Is a Home-Based Business for You?

The Census Bureau statistics show that 300,000 American home-based businesses are operated by women. Why is that? Why do women in such great numbers seek to carve out their own business niche?

Women are looking for opportunities with unlimited potential. When you work for yourself you are not hindered by gender bias or subtle racial discrimination, both of which are illegal, but still out there. No more will the boss’s son be next in line for the promotion you’ve coveted for years. While owning your own business can mean more work and more hours, many women choose to open their own businesses to cut back on the hours they work in order to spend more time with their husbands, children, grandchildren and aging parent.

Advantages Think of the advantages associated with reducing or simply cutting out the cost of commuting, childcare, office clothes, undependable pantyhose and lunches out. For everyone who has dreaded, but nonetheless contributed to, the endless list of office birthdays, weddings and retirement gifts, working from home can save face and big bucks. A flexible schedule allows parents to stay home when their children are sick without feeling their jobs are in jeopardy. Elderly parents need rides to the doctors or hair dressers? Your new business’s flexible schedule makes this easier for you to work into your day.

Disadvantages Do any of the above reasons sound familiar? Think you could live with all the advantages of your own business? Here’s the downside - working from home, you’ll have no paid vacation or sick days, no company sponsored health insurance, no matching funds for your 401K.

Spending more time with the children when they are home can mean working late into the night or setting aside your very early morning hours, not for sleep, but for work. Working from home can create a feeling of isolation - no colleagues to sympathize with your heavy work load, no lunch buddies to ease the tension of a difficult deadline. And here’s a universal truth - the kids will get chicken pox (or stomach flu, tonsillitis, broken bones) the month your biggest client needs you most.

Still Sounds Good? None of that matters to you? Working from home still sounds perfect? Great. Welcome to the club.

Starting your own business is a giant step, but it is often easier to start a business than it is to stay in business. How can you find success taking the self-employment route?

Who Succeeds in Business? Successful entrepreneurs have more than just a strong desire to work for themselves. They must be self-motivated, dedicated and energetic. Can you discipline yourself to work until the job is done? Are you careful with money? Can you keep detailed and accurate business records? Good, if you're already an organized and detail-oriented worker. But if you are not, there’s still time to train yourself. As owner of your own business you’ll be wearing many hats including that of chief financial officer, so you won't be able to delegate the paperwork.

At any time in your life, did you ever cut grass for spending money, baby-sit to pay for college or walk dogs to pay for your car insurance? Entrepreneurs typically start young working for themselves and understand the connection between hard work, reliability and a steady income.

Are you prepared to be pleasant to all your clients, even the meanies? Customer service is key and stinker clients can hurt your reputation. You’ll need to learn how to make satisfied customers out of complainers.

Do you meet deadlines, even if it means working late hours? Can you work by yourself without someone looking over your shoulder telling you to get moving?

If you are worried you don't have what it takes because you were never elected president of your class or were honored as valedictorian of your class, don’t be. Entrepreneurs have another trait common to the breed - they can succeed at their own businesses even if they were average students or were not team players in school. If you have concerns that you didn’t last long at some of your jobs, relax. Good employees don’t necessarily make good entrepreneurs.

What are Your Skills?

The next step is to reflect on your reasons for starting your business. What did you dislike about your last job? What skills did you learn that can be transferred to your new business? What are your life goals? Where are your resources - financial and emotional - going to come from? What do your closest friends say about your strengths and weaknesses?

After asking yourself the above questions, how did your answers shake out? Are you skilled on the computer? Do you know bookkeeping? Are you a people person? Organized, detail-oriented and enthusiastic? Physical strength is not required for all home-businesses but it is for some. Are you already visualizing yourself as a home-based childcare provider, painter and wallpapering expert, proofreader, desktop publisher, sales person, certified public accountant?

Having a vision of who you are and what you can do is half the work necessary to determine your future home-based career.

About the Author
Author Notes: Pamela White is a home-based freelance writer focusing on food, parenting and writing topics. Her ebooks, including Making Money Mystery Shopping, and Operate Your Own Paint and Wallpapering Business are available exclusively from Bizymoms.com. “Become a Food Writer” is available at Fabjob.com. She is the marketing and promotions director of Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine.