When people decide to take the plunge and begin their own home-based business, the number of fears and worries can be overwhelming. After all, when it comes right down to it, a job is there for one major reason: to earn an income. When you’re working for yourself, you don’t get a paycheck. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid – and if you don’t work well, you’re not going to get paid again.
With all the concerns involved, it seems incredible that people continue to opt for starting their own business. What’s the one regret that most people have? That they leaped before they looked – quitting their normal job and diving in head first, they weren’t prepared.
Whether your goal is to eventually operate your home business full-time, or you just want to bring in a bit of extra income, starting a part-time home business might be the answer for you. You get to try your hand at the business you propose to run without so much fear – even if you decide that this business isn’t the one you should be running, you’re not “locked in”. There’s still that “normal” job paying for your efforts in a normal work week.
There’s tons of opportunities available for starting a part-time small business that requre very little initial investment – definitely something that will make your search a bit easier.
Computer professionals remain in high demand despite the talk of “dot-com busts” and outsourcing. There is serious need for people who know how to repair or upgrade computers, how to configure networks, and generally how to share their knowledge with others – and in our technological world, this isn’t something that’s going to change soon.
Decide on one specific area of computer use that you want to work with, and create a plan from this. While I was still working a 40-hour-a-week “normal” job, I decided that I’d use my teaching background to help others and cushion my pocket a little bit. So I took out a $5 ad in the paper, placed flyers around town, and started helping people learn how to use their computer. The calls came in more quickly than I could deal with them – everyone needed something, whether it was to learn how to set their computer up or how to use a specific piece of software.
When you go into this kind of business, I recommend two things: one, that you purchase a day-planner and plot very specific times and days of the week that you will work, and stick to them – and two, that you are firm about what you do and do not do. In other words, if you decide that you want to set up home networks because you really don’t have the patience to teach people about using the computer, be polite but firm that you do not teach. You’ll drive yourself insane if you try doing more than you’re prepared to do.
Setting up fees for this type of business can be a bit tricky. I found that when I started out, the fee per-hour that I took (I’d decided on $8/hr simply because I wanted to help people, not burden them) was a lot less than my customers were willing to pay. Because I was always nice, polite, eager to help and very punctual, several of my first customers encouraged me to raise my costs. One gentleman, in fact, insisted on paying me $15/hr regardless of what my fees were.
So the thing is that you need to look around and see if anyone else is doing what you are. If you have competition, price your services near what they are charging. If you don’t, start out at a few dollars more per hour than you’re earning in your “normal” job. You’ll know very soon whether this fee is higher or lower than expected if you pay attention to your customers.
Tutoring & Giving Lessons
Most of us have special skills, usually begun as a hobby, that other people would love to learn. Some of these skills would include playing the piano, dancing, sewing, or specialty crafts like soap making. There are also lots of people who would be willing to pay someone to help them learn to swim, type, paint, or speak a foreign language. All “educational” fields are open for things like tutoring, as well – from children to adults, there comes a time when we all need a little extra help.
You have skills that other people want to learn, I can guarantee it. Translating these abilities into a home-based business can be easy and rewarding. Not only do you likely have all the “tools of the trade” that you would need to begin with, but you’d be getting paid to do something that you already love.
In my hometown, we have a community arts school which provided a perfect conduit for me to play around with this idea. I decided that my most unique skill that I wanted to share with others was soap making. I have all the tools – molds, ingredients, and cooking supplies – so all that I had to decide was what sort of format to teach in. Since I decided to work with the arts school, I prepared a 4-week “lesson plan” which I took in and had reviewed. The first session of my soap making class saw 35 enrollments and a nice little cushion of spending money in my pocket.
You can easily tutor and teach things like musical instruments and needle arts from your own home. What you need to do is focus on the area of skills you want to share – perhaps you’re an artist, and can offer lessons in watercolor, oil painting, and charcoal drawing. Sit down with a notebook and pen and figure out what the basic lessons someone would need to learn in this area of skill. Following my example, I might decide that the basic lessons would focus mostly on still life, lighting, and the use of color to convey a mood. With this background preparation in hand, create several fliers that highlight your expertise, the types of skills you can teach, and what the student would learn from their lessons with you.
Try keeping your first fliers open-ended; in other words, don’t force it into a “class” that teaches one specific set of things. Instead, get several students and find out what is most in demand, and you can go from there. You’ll also want to be fairly flexible with your fees. Try starting out with a different fee for young students than for adults – young students will take more work than an adult by far, so this is justifiable and gives you room for adjustment later on.
If you’re looking for something to do that doesn’t require a lot of specialty knowledge and practically no start-up money, this could be the perfect solution. You clean your own home how often? So why not expand that – earn some extra spending money by helping other people clean theirs.
The set-up of this type of business is very easy. First, get a calendar or day-planner that you can schedule in and make sure that you only schedule for days and times that you are completely free to be performing your service. Then, pull together a cleaning bucket with household cleaners that you really trust, brand-new rags and sponges, and a new mop and broom. Be sure that you get a box or two of latex gloves – you never want to be cleaning someone else’s home without this protection, simply for health reasons.
Now, practice on your own home. Figure out ways that you can get everything very clean – detailed and scrubbed to a professional shine – in a reasonable amount of time. Check out the Internet for helpful hints – there are specific things you can do that make a cleaning job look much more thorough.
My favorite one? Vacuum your way out of a room. In other words, start with the wall furthest from the doorway, and work your way back and out of the door. Do your vacuuming very last; what this does is leave the flooring perfectly fluffed without a single footprint marring your perfection. Believe me – it makes a big difference.
Another helpful tip is to use nature-scented cleansers. Orange and pine are both good choices, though orange tends to smell more “professional” and pine more “homey”. This scent will greet your customer when they return and give them a feeling of cleanliness which definitely helps their perception of you.
When you’ve got your cleaning skills down so that you can fully clean a 2 bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room and kitchen in about 2 hours, you’re ready to go. Draw up fliers with tear-off phone numbers, place an ad in the paper, and get ready. You’ll want to start your prices fairly low, because there are lots of “professional” cleaning services out there who will outshine you in experience and make their prices seem more worthwhile.
Try setting your prices based on the 2 hours that can be expected on most homes; let’s say that you decide to charge $50 for 2 hours, and $15 per hour for each additional hour. This shows your customers that you are confident you can do a great job in a fairly short amount of time, and that you don’t expect them to pay a lot if you take longer. Most people expect a good cleaner to be able to come in on time and get out quickly, leaving nothing but a clean scent and a lot of sparkle in their wake.
Finding the home-based business that’s right for you can be a bit of a challenge. If you spend a bit of time before you take the plunge to give a really good, dedicated effort to a certain area, though, you’ll find that working for yourself can be rewarding and income-worthy. Figure out what people need, how you can offer what they need, and what they are willing to pay for it. From there, your dedication will make all the difference!