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Introduction Welcome to a Better Way of Living and Working!

Introduction Welcome to a Better Way of Living and Working!

That claim sounds fishy, doesn't it? Yet the facts backing up that claim are all around us. Starting your own home business is one of the best ways to balance your checkbook and your life simultaneously. Have you ever noticed

  • Most people on lists of the wealthiest individuals made money through self-employment?

  • Thanks to technology, fewer and fewer jobs need to be performed at a single, central location (usually an expensive, dreary office)?

  • Employers often think of their employees as commodities, rather than people?

There has never been a better time to start a home business. If you are reading this book, you might have noticed that many people are aware of this trend and are wildly writing about home business opportunities.

This book is different. Instead of writing about home business, this book shows you (yes, you) how to start and operate one.

Instead of insisting that a specific type of business is “perfect” for you, it acknowledges that you know— better than anyone—the business you are best suited to own and operate. Instead of worrying about degrees or pedigrees, this book focuses on the tools you need to give your business the best chance of success. Instead of dwelling on shortcomings (which we all have), this book will start with the assets you have—then help you develop the resources you need. Instead of theories and dry citations, this book provides you with reality-based exercises and guidance.

This book speaks to you for who you are: a future home business owner; an intelligent adult; an employee whose humanity, intelligence, and abilities are routinely overlooked; a person who wants a life in which he enjoys his work—but also wants to knock off at 3 p.m., once in awhile, to catch his kid's soccer game.

By the end of this book, you will know what you need to do in order to

  • Own a fully operating home business.

  • Use a workable business plan, a realistic budget, and a sound marketing plan.

  • Live a life that not only reflects what you want to be doing, but how you want to do it.

Who Should Read This Book

If you are ready to start your own home business, this is the book for you. You want real information about starting a home business—not home business scams, not snooty theory, but real information you can use in your own, real world. You have definitely opened the best book on the subject.

But if you aren't sure whether you want to own a home business, read the book anyway. Because this book covers most of the decisions and dilemmas home business owners face, you will have a realistic picture of what owning your home business will be like. And as you will read in Chapter 1, “Exposing Myths of Self-Employment,” many of us make such decisions based on myth, not fact. Gird yourself with the facts, and a more realistic picture of what owning a home business will be like, by reading this book. That one act will make your decision as well-informed as possible.

If you want to start a business, but aren't sure whether to base it at home, read this book. This book provides specific details about a home business, so you will learn more about the unique advantages and challenges of a home business within these pages than you will anywhere else. (In fact, a special icon alerts you to these variations.) You will also learn what is involved in expanding a home business to a more traditional setting, as well as how to make that decision.

Career changers or recently unemployed readers will also benefit greatly from this book. While you are scanning the Want Ads, posting resume after resume on one Internet site after another, this book will provide you with another option. (And unlike some of the job offers you might receive, this book will actually be honest with you.)

How This Book Is Organized

If you have given your home business some thought—and at this point, you probably have—the process can seem overwhelming. That sleek, new office furniture would be the ideal addition to your home office. But maybe you should have a phone line or two added first. And does your office give you enough space for a new computer, as well as space to meet clients? Or will you meet clients in your home? In fact, can you do so—or is it forbidden? Suddenly, what seemed like a simple furniture purchase results in questions that put you right into overload.

This book is organized to avoid that paralyzing sense of confusion. Taking things in a logical order, step by step, you will be answering the most important questions first. Then, by dividing your larger goal into smaller, manageable tasks, you'll avoid inaction, and meet your goal of starting your home business.

How the Information Is Organized

This book is divided into two parts, which reflect the major stages of running your home business:

  • Part I: “Getting Ready,” covers all the planning and preparation necessary to launch your home-based business. Because this is a life changing endeavor that is also risky, the planning section is quite long. But don't let that discourage you. Success is often based on how well prepared you are. (Just think about how much planning you put in to any important, life changing endeavor, such as moving your home, having a child, or graduating from school.)

  • Part II: “Putting Your Plan to Work,” covers issues that frequently arise after your business is open. It will make sure that you know how to get your phone ringing and help you avoid customers who will cost you more than they are worth. And, real home business owners weigh in on their own experiences, providing you with additional help in starting and running your own successful home business.

The Small Business Troubleshooting Toolkit

After you have your home business up and running, of course, you face a whole new series of challenges. How do you prepare for and avoid work slowdowns resulting from computer or equipment problems? How do you keep your business running when you become ill? How do you manage problems when they arise, and what can you do to avoid angry clients? And what happens when you don't have enough work to meet your financial obligations, or when you have too much work to do before deadlines arrive? To help you answer these and a number of other important questions, we've provided a downloadable Small Business Troubleshooting Toolkit. This series of value-added chapters is available as downloadable text from our website at www.quepublishing.com. Type the ISBN of the book (10-digit number listed next to the bar code on the back of your book) into the Search field. On the book's web page you'll find a More Information box listing the Toolkit. The chapters in the Toolkit include:

  • When Your Business is Well—But You Aren't

  • Houston, We Have a Problem: Preventing Disasters During Equipment Failure

  • Managing Angry Clients

  • Surviving Lean Times: No Work, No Money

  • Keeping Up When You Have Too Much Work

Basic Tools and Special Elements

To help you keep track of what you want within your home business, you will be creating several documents throughout the course of this book. Those documents are

  • A business plan. This plan is written for your own reference, but later on, it can also be a document submitted to financial institutions when applying for a loan. As your business grows and changes, so will this document.

  • A business budget. These are the numbers that back up the words in your business plan. Without the budget, your business plan is just a nice idea.

These two documents will be your constant companions. They are “living documents”—that is, they will constantly be changing. It's a good idea to put them on your computer, if you are comfortable doing so. Treat them with care. They are the blueprints for your new life.

Throughout the book, you will be creating, adding, and changing both the business plan and the budget. Most of this work will take place in Part I, with some changes and additional work with these documents taking place in Part II and in the downloadable Small Business Troubleshooting ToolKit.

In addition, special icons point out particularly important items and related information. Here are the special icons you'll find in this book, and what they represent:

The Resource icon marks text that provides you with contact or order information for a company, book, or other item that can help you.

The Watch Out icon alerts you to text that describes situations or items that require extra care.

The Budget icon alerts you to items you should include in your budget.

The Business Plan icon alerts you to items you should consider or discuss in your business plan.

The Walk the Walk icon marks information that suggests ways to get into the business owner mindset. These items include exercises you might want to try, as they can help you improve the skills you need to run your home business.

In most chapters, you'll see a number of lists. To Do lists outline major tasks you'll accomplish within the associated section of the chapter. You'll Need lists provide a fast checklist of all the materials, tools, and supplies you'll need in order to accomplish the tasks described in the associated section. The book also contains a number of notes, tips, cautions, and sidebars—all containing useful information that will help you make the most of the skills you're learning.

Recommendations for Using This Book

If your hobbies include woodworking, home improvement, or sewing, you have probably heard the adage, “Measure twice, cut once.” The idea is simple: Plan what you are going to do. Then, check your plan before implementing it.

If there was ever a time when this adage should be adhered to, it is now. Starting your home business will change your life, most likely for the better. But the process involves risk, and you might risk quite a bit, including your income and your home.

Because so much is at risk, it is particularly important that every item in this book is considered and, if applicable, acted upon.

Right now, you are probably thinking, “But wait. I can't keep track of everything. I'll miss something! Yikes! I'm human, remember?!?” Or, “Gosh, I'm so excited! Can't I just get going? C'mon! Let's go. Let's open the doors of the business tomorrow!”

We're all human. We overlook things. We forget something we read. It happens. But that doesn't have to mean you fail to do something important when starting your home business.

Read the book all the way through, and follow the instructions. Then, skim through it a second time. During the first few months of your home business, scan the pages again, making sure that you are taking care of everything you need to do in order to give yourself the best possible chance of business success.

Last, work through the book at your own pace. If you feel comfortable completing the book in one week, good for you. If you complete the book in three months, that is equally good. This is not a race. There is no prize for finishing first. There is great reward in finishing best.

Make the book yours. Mark up the book. Highlight key points. Write in the margins. Put colored tabs at key passages. This isn't school. You aren't expected to turn in your book at the end of the year, and no one is going to call your mom to complain. Keeping your book “clean” is not important. Keeping your business running successfully is.

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