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Home Career Selection FAQs

Wondering what business to start, what business to buy, or whether you should make the shift from a full-time job to a home career? These top three FAQs will put you on the right track.

by Paul and Sarah Edwards

Q: What Business Should I Start?

"I've wanted to start my own business for some time. But what type of business? I'm stumped."

Chances are the reason you're stumped as to what business to start is because you're asking the wrong questions. You're probably wondering what you "could" do, what you "should" do or what would be "best" to do and are either seeing no truly appealing option or so many options that it's quite confusing. To get out of this rut, ask yourself an entirely different question: What would you like to be doing? Imagine if you could support yourself doing anything you want -- what would you do?

In the past most people had to settle for something more "practical" than what they would like to do. But in this day and age, the "ideal" is often the most practical. Changes in the economy make it possible for people to carve out unique niches doing rewarding kinds of work that no one would have ever hired them to do in the past.

Don't limit your future to outdated ideas of what's possible. Find a match between the lifestyle you desire, your experience and background, what you enjoy doing and what people will pay for. We call this process "matrixing."

In Finding Your Perfect Work, you can read literally hundreds of examples of how people are finding such matches. Each month you'll find a variety of examples on our web site. Like Barbara Allen who started Mrs. Allen's Shed Stop, or nature recording artist Jonathon Storm.

Finding your match and packaging it profitably may involve some experimentation, but as with any journey, knowing your destination is the first step to finding a path that will take you there.

Q: Where Do I Find Reputable Business Opportunities?

"I am set up and ready to go to work at home. I have a computer, modem and printer. I have spent a large amount of money recently on Work-at-Home scams. Who do I contact? Where are the reputable companies?"

We regret that you have lost money on work-at-home scams. All too many people do. They are everywhere, especially in unsolicited e-mail. The problem is an all-too-common misunderstanding about how one gets work to do at home. As far as we know, there are no companies that charge you a fee and then provide you with work to do at home on your computer.

The best and easiest way to begin doing work from home with your computer is to start your own one-person business in one of the 100+ established computer-related fields we profile in Making Money with Your Computer or Making Money in Cyberspace. People are successfully operating businesses likes these from home all over the country. They include businesses like word processing, desktop publishing or information research.

Of course, some people don't want to start a business from scratch. If that includes you, you can purchase a franchise like Prime Net Communications or buy a business opportunity package like Medical Management Software that enables you to set up a medical billing service. When you buy a franchise or a business opportunity, you're not paying to get work you can do at home. You're buying a blueprint for starting a business along with proprietary knowledge, equipment, software, etc. and, hopefully, training in how to get started.

In Home Businesses You Can Buy, you will find lists of both franchises and business opportunities, but there are no approved lists of "good" companies. You have to personally investigate any packaged businesses you're considering carefully. In Home Businesses You Can Buy, we outline three "Fitness" tests you should do before buying any home business opportunity, franchise or MLM:

1) The Honesty Test: Is this a reputable company?

A reputable company, for example, will have a street address and a telephone that's answered by a live human being. Or, if they use a voice mail system, they will return your call or send out materials within the week. A reputable company will also meet a variety of state and federal regulations designed to safeguard consumers.

2) The Suitablity Test: Is this line of work suited to you and are you suited for this company?

Just because others do well after buying a particular home business opportunity doesn't mean that you will. For example, you need to evaluate if there is sufficient training included to enable you to both do and market the business you'll be running.

3) The Market Test: Is there business in our community that you have or can gain access to?

Just because there's ample need for a particular business in one community does not mean there is sufficient business in your community. And just because others can get clients and customers in a particular business does not mean you can!

Q: How Do I Take the Plunge from Part-Time to Full-Time?

"The company I work for is moving out of state. By running on a shoestring, my part-time business meets our family's needs as well as its own expenses, and I will be receiving a lump-sum bonus and a six month severance package. But depending on my business as our sole income is another story."

In your case, going from part-time to full-time is more a matter of making a mental shift than a financial one. Since you are consistently generating enough money from your sideline business to cover your business and living expenses, you're well-positioned to take your business full-time.

You may be assuming that having a regular paycheck provides greater security than a self-employment income can. But many people are discovering the illusive security of a paycheck. Companies merge, purge, move, downsize and rightsize, leaving employees scrambling to find a new source of income. In actuality a well-established business of your own can provide as much -- if not more -- security than a paycheck.

If you want to go full-time instead of looking for another job, you need to develop a new definition of security. On your own, security comes not from knowing you can rely on a company for a steady income, but from knowing you rely on your own efforts to generate the steady income you need.

You've told us that by operating frugally, you have a steady income from your sideline business that covers your family's living expenses. Now think about this: you've achieved this while working a full-time job! Imagine what you can do with your business once you can devote all your time to helping it grow! Think of your severance package as a cash cushion to ease your transition. The bonus and six months benefits can be your safety net while you put in added time to boost business.

Now that you can work on your business full-time, set a specific target for how much additional business you'll need to generate to replace your paycheck over the next six months. Then develop a plan for generating business to achieve that goal. Put in every hour you used to spend on your job generating more business. Track your results carefully month by month so you can alter your plan if need be to reach your goals.

Draw confidence from knowing how successful you've been at building your business with a part-time effort. If doubts, fears and concerns continue to plague you, track down their origin. Take action to address any actual concerns. Get rid of outdated concepts about what constitutes security. To help shift your thinking, spend time interacting with and reading about successful self-employed people who've made this mental shift. Before you know it, you'll be able to use your own track record of success as evidence that ultimately you are your own best source of security!

Paul and Sarah Edwards are professional speakers, nationally syndicated columnists, radio and TV show hosts, and the authors of eight work-at-home books, including Finding Your Perfect Work, Home Businesses You Can Buy and Making Money with Your Computer. They are recognized by business experts as the nation's "self-employment gurus," and are interviewed frequently by the print, radio and television media. To learn more, visit the Edwards' web site at www.paulandsarah.com.

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