by David Bohl
I know we are all concerned about economic conditions these days, with massive job layoffs, declining housing markets, and plunging stock prices. Yet, the rise in unemployment has created a great opportunity for those who have entrepreneurial dreams.
With very little capital outlay, now is a great time to start a home based business.
I did some research and found that there are over 16 million home based businesses in the U.S. Some of these are service based and some sell products.
A recent Forbes.com article indicated a few of the best service businesses to start include event planning, home landscaping, computer repair, graphic design, consulting, and public relations. Home based businesses can also market products through network marketing, eBay, Amazon, or an affiliate program.
No matter what your dream is, I believe there’s an opportunity for everyone who wants to start a home based business. Whether you’re fed up with the restrictions of a stifling job or have been laid off, if you’re ready to be your own boss, you can start a business that uses your best talents and skills.
For example, secretarial skills can easily transform into a virtual assistant business. Or you may be a young retiree looking for a part time venture or a mother wanting to stay at home with the children. Whatever your reason, the home based business is a good bet for a slow economy.
However, you do need to get some basic business education before you hang out your shingle. You may be talented at the service you provide or have the greatest product on the market, but you have to have some business savvy to succeed. You could read business books, take seminars, get a coach or mentor, and network with other business professionals in your industry. Use search engines to research the business you want to start. See who the competition is, find out what you need to start a business, and get some marketing ideas.
According to the SBA (Small Business Administration), over half of all U.S. businesses are home based, and they provide more than $530 billion of income each year. If you plan to be among those businesses that not only survive but thrive in this economy, here are some helpful tips:
Start a business that fills a need or solves a problem. Do you have a product or service that is the solution to a specific problem? Do you know who your target market is? When you answer these questions, you will have a business that is focused on a need and targeted to a market. Then decide how you can deliver this product or service in a unique way that will stand out from your competition.
The virtual assistant, for example, solves the problem of how a home based business owner can get office support without having to hire an employee. The virtual assistant business may stand out by targeting a niche market, such as professional coaches.
Stay up to date with current trends.
As a business start-up, see if you can match the service or product you want to sell with a current trend such as the environmental and economic issues. Where is there a need that you can fill? What target market is underserved? Look for trends that have longevity rather than ones that may just be the next best thing.
Build your team.
You might not want to hire employees, but you could use contractors to build a team of people who have skills that you lack. Outsource your weakest skills such as administrative tasks, bookkeeping, writing, and web design. Conversely, your home based business may be a resource for other home businesses if you provide a valuable service like graphic design or computer repair.
Develop excellent customer and referral relationships.
To keep marketing costs at a minimum, focus on getting repeat business and referrals. To stand out from the competition, focus on extreme customer service. Make sure you follow up and stay in touch with prospects, past and present customers, business associates, and referral sources. Develop alliances with complementary businesses that can send you qualified leads.
Build an online presence.
Even if your service is locally delivered, you can still benefit from a website. Use it as an online brochure and lead generator. It will build your credibility and introduce prospects to your services. If you sell products, most can be sold online, so set up a payment service like PayPal and start getting people to your site. You can do this with blogs, articles, social networking, and joint ventures.
As a local business you can get listed in the local directory at Google and Yahoo.
Several successful businesses such as Microsoft and Disney began during recessions so I really believe now is a great time to start a home based business.