On Monday I posted about making sure that you follow your passion when determining the type of at home job you will hold (http://www.allbusiness.com/blog/WorkingMothers/11535/005946.html). I also said that you need to take a lot of time to research the type of job(s) you may be considering, before you jump in and start work.
I´d like to follow up that post with a post directed toward the research aspect. I´ve known many people who have skipped the research and jumped into a job, whether at home or not, only to find a few weeks, or even days, later that the job just wasn´t for them. When you are staring a business from your home, you will have to invest some money to get it going, not to mention an inordinate amount of time; so you don´t want to skimp on the research or you will quickly find yourself, and your bank account, in the negative.
So where do you begin researching?
First, I recommend making a list of the things that you enjoy doing and then tying those into a possible at-home job. For instance, if you are geared toward numbers and math, perhaps you could do bookkeeping from home. If you have a knack for decorating, perhaps you could look into planning events such as weddings. If writing is your passion, you might want to take on some freelance positions, or if you have a product or service in mind that you would be interested in pursing, you might wish to open your own business in one of these areas.
Once you have narrowed your ideas down to one or two, you should then thoroughly research that field. Look at potential income. Ask yourselves these questions: How many hours per day would you have to work in this position in order to get everything done that you would need to get done? How much time are you willing to invest on a daily/weekly basis? How much money would you need for start up? Would this be a service or product-oriented business? Would you need further education before proceeding? What type of business license would you need? Who would be your competition? What is the market like for that type of business in your area? Would you need retail space and, if so, what is the going rate in your area? What type of equipment would you need before starting up?
After you have answered these questions, you should begin to think about a business plan. Included in this is the knowledge of what you would need to invest in this business before starting up. Consider all aspects of the business: equipment, website, materials, rents and other fees, licenses, outside labor, and childcare, to name a few. Create a spreadsheet in which you can input each number. Don´t forget the small things, like packaging, if you are selling products, and business cards and brochures if needed. The small items add up rather quickly.
Finally, take a look at other businesses that are doing the same type of work that you are doing. How are they operating? Are they operating from home or from a storefront? If you can visit the business, do so. If you can see a product that is sold by that business, order one. Study the other business. You need to become an expert in your field before you open your own business. You also need to understand your niche, or what sets you apart from all of the other like-businesses in your area. This will help as you begin to advertise.
Research is one of the key elements when opening a business, so don´t forgo this valuable step before you venture into an at-home job.