- Personal Chef
If cooking is your passion, becoming a personal chef may just be the job for you. This job can mean that you cook a week's worth of meals in a client's home, for instance, or you can look at delivering gourmet meals - the alternative to the old pizza delivery. With today's high-pressure jobs and families where both parents work full time, this type of service is becoming more desirable, particularly in urban areas. Be sure to understand local regulations regarding the kitchen you prepare the food in; many states require you to have a kitchen separate from your home, and may inspect for health code adhesion.
- Birthday Party PlanningIf you talk to any parent, they'll tell you: planning a birthday party is hard work, and a challenge when you're busy. Where there's a need, there's a job, and birthday party planning can be a great career if you're creative, like kids and can work weekends when parties are often held. You can also plan retirement parties, promotions - any event you think you can handle. For the best changes at earning a good income, make sure you research local rates and competition and understand your liability, particularly if you'll be working with little ones.
- Home Staging
It's a tough real estate market out there. To sell your house in this buyer's market, it needs to look its best, and home staging can make all the difference. If you have an eye for design, home staging may just be the career for you; there are no education requirements, and although there are many courses and professional organizations for home stagers, they're not required to be successful in the field. Take some time to research rates in your area and practice staging your home or a friend's. Think about what services you'll want to offer, and the startup costs you'll incur. Networking with realtors can be very helpful in generating business.
- Web DesignAre you computer savvy, and do you have an eye for detail? A career in web design may be for you. Even if you don't have the skills, consider going back to school to learn; there are many online courses, and current education tax benefits can make the bottom-line expense very low. Before you hunt for jobs, think whether you'll be starting your own business or work as a freelancer - the two are very different tax and legal-wise. Check with IRS on tax obligations, and with your local small business chapter. (To learn more, see Freelance Careers: Look Before You Leap.)
- Virtual Assistant
With today's uncertain economy, more businesses are looking to hire temporary or per-project help, sometimes in the form of a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant can handle anything from receptionist duties to bookkeeping, depending on your expertise and the client's needs. For work in this field, look to online job boards. Tell your friends and family you're looking for administrative-type work to do from home, and check with any old business contacts you may have. Virtual assistants are still a fairly new concept, so expect to have to explain what you do a few times before generating business.
- Tutoring Service
These days, problems are increasingly solved with use of the internet, including tutoring services. Work as a tutor can be helping a child with homework, or teaching adults how to use a computer - if you have a specific skill, you can become a tutor. You can find work on job boards, or at online colleges. If you have a college degree in your expertise (like math, or English), your chances at building a successful career as a tutor will be even better.
The Bottom LineThese six careers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to at-home careers. For the best chance at success, look at your previous career for a start - you may be able to work as a consultant. At-home careers are a great way to explore your passion and make a living too. Earnings can vary greatly, depending on your expertise and experience, so take time to research before setting your rates. Make sure you understand your tax obligation, and whether you might be best off starting a small business to protect yourself legally. Your local small business organization or SCORE chapter is great place to get some help. Whether you're designing web pages or starting a small business as a party planner, working from home can be a great way to forge own your career path - and avoid the cubicle doldrums, too.
Most entrepreneurs often demonstrate characteristics that include confidence, risk-taking, creativity, drive and determination, but the following personality traits can directly impact your business as well.
- Passion for the business will make you a hard worker.
- Ethical principles, such as wanting to provide a useful business to your community and to have the respect of your peers, can give your business a positive image.
- Persistence is needed to stay on top of events taking place within the business. Trade associations and subscriptions to magazines focused on your business can help.
- Socializing will help your business grow because it gets the word out about your company and creates relationships for its benefit.
- Organization is another attribute that aids growth.
- You can stay at home (no commuting).
- You may dress casually.
- You can set your own work hours.
- You are your own boss.
- You would have more tax benefits and write-offs, such as claiming depreciation for your home office.
- The town or city you reside in will want to maintain a positive character and quality, which will mean your activities and future growth potential may be limited.
- You may face zoning restrictions.
- You may face prohibition of the production and sale of certain goods.
- Most likely you will need to invest many hours to set up the business; this may infringe on your personal and family life.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may have a bunch of questions for you to answer, as this federal watchdog keeps a close eye on home-based businesses.(Read more about the advantages and drawbacks of working for yourself in Be Your Own Boss By Freelancing.)
Begin With a Solid FrameworkA business plan is needed for the company. It will allow you to foresee whether your ideas will work and what challenges you'll face down the road. First, determine whether the business will be a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC) or corporation.
Outline the mission statement, which should detail exactly why you are in business. Beyond that, write down the goals for the business, how you will meet the goals, who will be responsible for them and when they will be realized.
Evaluate the cost of the service or product in the outline. For instance, determine the costs of all materials found in the product, labor costs for creating the product and the cost for indirect materials and labor, such as supplies and clerical services. Figure out the cash flowby starting with the purchase of the inventory and following through to how payment is collected.
The business plan should also address the following points:
- who the customers are and their needs
- your knowledge of the business
- your qualifications
- pricing models
- how the finances are managed
- projections for the future
- how it is different from the competition
It's important to understand and follow federal, state and local government rules. Papers must be filed if you incorporate, or want to protect the name of the business. Go to your town office or city hall if licenses and permits are needed to operate the business. The local code-enforcement officer can let you know whether you comply with zoning restrictions.
Register for an Employer Identification Number if you plan to incorporate or if your partnership or proprietorship has employees. The business area or home office must be part of the home and used on a regular and exclusive basis in order to qualify for a tax deduction from the
Think ProfessionallyCreate a business environment that maintains professionalism and allows you to function well. Analyze the space you will need for the office, production, tools and equipment, clientele and pick-up and delivery. Consider the location, traffic and parking.
The following are some important items you may need to include:
- a home computer
- an address or post office box
- a separate telephone line
- voice mail
- a fax machine
- company letterhead
- a separate bank account
ConclusionDeciding to start your own business from home is obviously a big step, but with the right forethought and preparation it can be a rewarding experience, both professionally and personally.