Small business ideas

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Researching Your Home Business Idea

By Jan Leow.

Looking deeper into the business you intend to do

After having think it through on what you intend to do, now you need to make a little more in-depth study about what your home business is all about. What more research? I know you are raring to go. Just do it! Like the Nike slogan, and learn as you go along. Well good, and bad. Good, because you have no preconceive ideas of all the negative problems that will entail from pursuing your intended home business. Bad, because that's just it, you don't know anything about it at all, what are the potential problems you need to overcome, and what are the things you need to have to get it going.

Let's take a hypothetical scenario: let's say you are good at cooking and you plan to start a home catering business. It is one thing to cook for you and your family, but quite another to prepare meals for hundreds of people. There is no way you can cope with the preparation and delivery without considering whether your home kitchen can handle the size, and how about helpers? Are you going to hire outsiders or enlist your children to help out with the food preparation and cooking? And how about the marketing aspect of it? Who do you want to serve? The working couple who has no time to cook, the family who would prefer to meals prepare for them rather than do it themselves, or would it be special occasion type services like banquet style catering? Would you be able to cope for such sizes? Are there really this requirement in your neighbourhood? Questions, questions, question...

Research doesn't have to be formal. No you are not a large corporation that needs focus group or to send out questionnaire survey. But rather to walk around your neighbourhood, shopping malls, maybe making some cold calls and have impromptu conversations and see whether there is really such a need.

On the other hand you may be considering a franchise business, or going for a multi-level-marketing (MLM) network business. Each has their own pros and cons and you need to study what the business will entail, what are the start up costs, what are the equipment you may need to get, and whether the companies that provide the franchise or MLM program has good technical support, how is their respond to your query and problems that you may face during your initial set up.

By studying deeper into the business you intend to do, you will get to know what you are getting yourself into. Whether that kind of home business will fit to your personality, does that home business give you avenue for your personal growth, when the business grow will you grow into it too? Is it what you like to do? After all it is back to the passion question, because with passion it will give you the motivation to go at it despite the many hurdles you need to overcome.

So come out with your own checklist about the things you need to know about your intended business opportunity, briefly you can list things out such as:

  • What do I need to know about my intended business?
  • How do I set it up?
  • Do you need to be skilled in certain areas, if lacking, can you master and improve your skill in a short time? Or would it be
  • Is the home business suitable for my intended target market, would they be able to easily access to your product and services, or you need to run out to meet your prospects? And most importantly is there really a need for the product and service you are about to offer. Without demand, you can't sell and it would really be an uphill task to promote your home business.
  • What sort of equipment do I need? Fax machines, computers, D-I-Y tools, or any other equipment that will go with your kind of business?
  • What kind of financing to start it off, would it be a low cost start up or heavier kind of investment, and if so how long it would take to recoup the initial investment?
  • How will I market my product and services? Will it be through the local papers? How about flyers or using word of mouth? Or is there other ways to do your initial promotion your home business?
  • Who are your competitors? Go out and look around, pretend to be one of their customers, hey business is brutal, and spying is perfectly legitimate here! Perhaps you might find a spin or loophole in the market which they are not covering and you feel you can do it better than them.

The above questions are by no means complete, you will need to list out your own question and do some digging and research. A little research earlier can help to alleviate some of the potential problems that might arise during your starting up of your business.

One way to learn about your intended business is to go work with somebody in a similar field to pick the necessary skills and experience in running your own home business. It would be better to know some basic skills of running a home business than running it blind.

You could also ask friends or close family relations who have their own business and consult them about running a business. This would be a cheaper alternative than hiring out a consultant, in consideration that you are planning to run a low cost start up, I would presume your finances would be rather tight and you would need to make every dollar count in starting up your home business.

Besides, the consultant would be expensive and may not necessary be giving you good advice. After all you will know yourself and your own situation better, and it would be better to do your own legwork to find out about your intended home business.

You could also attend trade shows to gather more information, and could be a good place to go as all the categories of business are gathered into one place making it very economical for your study.

Reference books and magazines could be another source of information as you go about your fact finding endeavor and last but not least, the internet is a wealth of information and tips, right? Otherwise you wouldn't be reading this article and going through my website scouring for useful information and ideas.

Once your have sufficient information, then take the plunge, and not get into analysis paralysis! Your research can be on going as you try to improve various aspect of your home based business or even refresh your ideas and perhaps look out for other possible avenue and business opportunities.

That said, researching can be productive and may prove to be invaluable in not only staring a home business but in the day to day running and expanding or your home based business.

About the Author

Jan Leow has started several home business including internet marketing and reaping some of the rewards of a part-time home based business. Want to make your own website for fun and profit? Check out his website at JanLeow.com!