Pay any attention at all to your email inbox and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only way to run a business from home is on the Internet. Sure, many people are running spectacularly successful Internet-based home businesses. Many, many more are doing so even more spectacularly unsuccessfully.
But what if you’re not interested in running an Internet business? What if you want to start and run a home business the old-fashioned way?
Where do you start?
Actually starting any home business is the easy part. The hard part’s deciding what that business should be.
So how do you even start the process of deciding on the right home business for you? The key is to be methodical, realistic, objective, and patient.
Step 1 : Personal Inventory
The first place to start is to inventory your skills, experience, interests, and personality characteristics. These are what you have to work with – your raw ingredients, so to speak.
Make a list of personal qualities and factors that you can throw into the mix. Include things like:
=> your personal background;
=> training and education;
=> work and volunteer experience;
=> special interests and hobbies;
=> leisure activities;
=> your personality and temperament.
All of these qualities and factors make up what you know and what you’re good at.
Step 2 : Identify What You Like
It’s one thing to know a lot about something or be good at it. It’s quite another to enjoy it enough to want to make it your life’s work. So, remove from the list you created in Step 1 anything that you don’t really, really like doing or which plain doesn’t interest you. No matter how good you are at it. If you’re lucky enough to like what you’re good at, as a general rule, stick with what you know.
Step 3 : Match Your Likes With Marketable Activities
If Steps 1 and 2 still haven’t suggested feasible home business ideas, review the following activities that have proven marketable for others and weigh them against your “likes” from Step 2:
Crafts – pottery, ceramics, leadlighting
Health and Fitness – aerobics instructor, network marketing
for a health products company, home health care
Household Services – cleaning, gardening, shopping
Professional Services – attorney, architect, interior
Personal Services – make-up artist, hairdresser
Business Services – business plan writer, meeting planner
Wholesale Sales – antique dealer, drop shipper
Retail Sales – children’s clothing, widgets
Computers – web design, internet training.
You get the idea. This is not an exhaustive list, obviously. You can visit the AHBBO Ideas Page for a list of over 500 home business ideas at http://www.ahbbo.com/ideas.html .
Step 4 : Make a List of Business Ideas That Fit With Your Likes From Step 2
By the time you’re done, you’ll have a hit list of possible matches between your skills and interests on the one hand, and home business ideas utilizing those skills and interests on the other.
Step 5 : Research
Armed with your list from Step 4, identify those ideas that you think have marketable potential and then research whether that belief is accurate. In order to have marketable potential, the idea must satisfy the following criteria:
=> It must satisfy or create a need in the market. The golden rule for any business is to either find or create a need and then fill it.
=> It must have longevity. If your idea is trendy or faddish, it doesn’t have longevity. Go for substance over form in all things.
=> It must be unique. This doesn’t mean you have to invent something completely new but it does mean that there has to be some *aspect* of your product or service that sets it apart from the competition. This is easy if you go for the niche, rather than mass, market. Don’t try to be all things to all people. You’ll only end up being too little to too many.
=> It must not be an oversaturated market. The more competition you have, the harder it will be to make your mark. It’s unrealistic to expect no competition, of course. In fact, too little competition is a warning sign either that your business idea has no market or that the market is controlled by a few big players. What you want is healthy competition where it’s possible to differentiate yourself from competing