We explore a range of ideas to help you set up a home working business.
Many of us dream about working from home and getting away from the daily 9-5 grind and long commuting time. For many of us it has been a way of freeing up our lifestyle and working in a more flexible way.
1. Set up an online website or blog
This could be an online shop or it could be an online magazine. Either way it is not a job for the feint hearted and you will have to learn a degree of web programming and web promotion. Luckily there is free open source software such as wordpress or joomla that could help get you going. You could start getting a web site going within a week or so. The harder bit is making money from it. Until you get to at least 2,000 visitors per month to your shop or 15,000 visitors per month to your website the results will be meager. It took us around 4 years (albeit working part time) to bring in a modest income.
2. Become a virtual assistant
This is like being a secretary for a small business but where you work from home and only work when there is work to do. Most virtual assistants have around four or five regular clients and do anything from spreadsheets, chasing up invoices, putting together presentations, adding content to websites. Pay rates vary but tend to be in the range of £10 – £18 per hour ($20 – $36) depending upon the skills offered. But remember you only charge for the direct hours worked. For more information visit iava or alliance of uk virtual assistants
3. Freelance Editorial and Journalism work
If you are any good at writing, editing or proof reading then you may be able to set up a writing or editing business. The biggest challenge will be to find customers but if you look on websites like Reed you will often find these types of roles advertised. The advertisers on Reed get loads of people bulk applying and so just sending in a CV won’t get you very far. Sending a portfolio of your writing would get you further. I would say (as a publisher that uses freelancers) that the best way to try and get work would be to write a piece for your target publication. Have a look at the type of articles that they publish and write one that you would fit in to their style. Freelance journalism work ranges from £40-£100 per 1000 words ($80-$200) or between £10 and £20 ($20 – $40) per hour.
4. Photography / Photo editing
Photography can suit many people for working from home. The easiest entry level is to start by supplying images to photo libraries. Istockphoto has a facility to do this and you get paid a royalty any time that someone downloads an image. At its smallest size a download costs 50p ($1) and you can expect to get royalties of around 20% or 10p ($0.20) per image downloaded. For a list of photo libraries visit top-10-image sites Business images sell the best, but it will take a while to build up an income. More lucrative would be to do freelance photography for weddings, local businesses or various publications. Finding a niche can work well in photography. If you also know how to use some good photo editors like Photoshop cs3 or 4, you could make money editing some photos or making logos for small businesses.
5. Professional services
Business services are ideal candidates for home based businesses. Database programming, graphic design, web design, book-keeping are all in demand. You can generally also find sites like elance where you can find work or offer your services.
6. Telephone sales
If you are any good at selling then telephone sales could be a great business for you. Many companies need to regularly contact their customer base or need to find sales leads. You may be able to offer your services to help find new business for them. You will however need to be aware of the distance selling and cold calling regulations first.
7. Keep your overheads down
Before rushing headfirst into your business idea it pays to keep your overheads as low as you can to start. Try to use whatever computing power that you already own. You can get an answering service from a company like alldaypa and free business banking from abbey. If you need a web site you could try to build your own site. You can start with a simple hosting package – these can be obtained for less than £10 per month from 1and1. Open source software such as wordpress or joomla is free and could get you set up. You can always buy in some freelance services to get you going. You can get some free business cards from vistaprint. Try to keep the overheads as low as you can until you are sure that things are going well.
8. Borrow as little money as you can.
The most healthy way to grow a business is through positive cash flow. This means that you make a profit before you invest for the next phase. This could potentially slow down your business growth in the early phases but you will have a very healthy business platform to work from. Your business will be much less likely to fail.
8. Watch out for franchises, training schemes or scams
There are lots of people out there advertising for you to work from home. Many of them say that you can earn £400 per day/ week. While there may be some good franchises out there, most franchises and training schemes require a substantial investment up-front. This could cripple the business even before you can get going.
9. Test market your ideas – is your idea sound?
Before you kick off your project it is probably worth checking whether your small business idea is sound. Just as people will never tell you that your baby is ugly, you will seldom get an honest opinion from friends and family as to whether your business idea is sound.
Try to find prospective customers and ask them if you should set up in business with your product or service. If the results are promising then you will be on to a bit of a winner.
10. Know when to carry on and when to give up
Many businesses fail because they do not know when to carry on and when to give up. Because people have invested so much in a business there is an overwhelming need to do double or quits and get more heavily into debt. If you keep the business in profit you will know when it starts to dip.
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Adding a link to your website could help you generate some traffic too.