Dear Professor Bruce: I am a Marine who just returned from Afghanistan as a Wounded Warrior. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Can you provide some insight into starting a home-based business, since it is difficult for me to travel?
Answer: Thank you for serving our country. Publisher Mel Cohen, of Inspired Authors Press says to, "First determine what type of business you want to be in. Base it on your skill set, experience, and know how. The military gave you disciplines that civilians do not have."
Where there is a void, there is an opportunity. Find a need and fill it. Where there is no need for something, create one.
Have goals and objectives for your business.
Many architects, attorneys, graphic artists, web designers, IT experts, SEO and SEM experts, app designers, and crafters run businesses from their homes.
There are good tax advantages available for home-based businesses. You can write off utilities, maintenance, repairs, home owners insurance and other expenses that would not be deductible on a personal return. Learn more at http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Home-Office-Deduction .
Here are some home-based businesses with low startup costs:
- Freelance Writer: http://www.freelancewriting.com/ ; http://www.dailywritingtips.com/7-steps-to-becoming-a-freelance-writer/
- Blogger: http://freelanceswitch.com/freelance-writing/how-to-become-a-freelance-blog-writer/ ; http://www.becomeablogger.com/
- Affiliate Marketer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuGJ3fdRHd4 ; http://mattsmarketingblog.com/
Freelance writers and bloggers are in the same field -- writing. If you are a good writer, and can learn search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), you can start with billing rates from $25 to $100 per hour. As you gain more experience that rate will climb.
Affiliate marketing is a great stay-at-home business if you like working on a computer. It allows you to make money online from your site or blog by promoting other sites or products in return for a commission or a fixed fee per lead or sale.
You earn a commission when someone follows a link from your site or blog to another site where they then buy something, sign up for something or complete a survey. You must sign up in advance with the company to see their fee schedule. Those who are computer savvy can make a nice living as an affiliate marketer.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov) is your greatest free resource. All businesses need a business plan, and they offer examples. They cater to businesses of all sizes, and have a section on home-based businesses. Before I would go into business, I would use the business assessment tool available on their site.
For more information, visit http://practax.net/
(Bruce Freeman is president of ProLine Communications and co-author of "Birthing the Elephant." He teaches at Seton Hall and Kean universities. Email Bruce@Smallbusinessprof.com. Follow Bruce on Twitter @SmallBizProf and his Facebook page.)