I (Conrad) started writing about our own efforts starting a business from home to share what Gina and I have learned from our experiences. I also spent a lot of time researching and observing what makes a successful businesses - what are the key ingredients.
About 10 years ago, my wife Gina and I started a home based medical billing business. We were naive and had no idea what we were getting into. I was working full time as an engineer and Gina wanted to contribute also, but not have to go through all the “stuff” of a conventional job - especially with two young kids. One of Gina’s friends had success starting a business from home in medical billing. We thought “Gee - that looks easy - why can’t we do it?” Well one of the fundamentals of starting business in medical billing - or any other business - is you have to know your stuff in that particular field.
When we originally created this site, we included a lot of information about starting a medical billing business. But medical billing and coding just aren’t for everyone - especially starting a business in it. A lot of people who inquire about starting a billing business really just want to do something so they can work from home.
So I created this page and the related pages to share what we’ve learned starting a business from home that would apply to any type of home business - from finding good ideas to organizing, marketing, planning, naming it, and raising money. All the big issues needed to start a business from home.
Why Are You Here?
What brought you here...thinking about starting a business from home? The challenge, desire for fulfillment, to control your own destiny, get out of debt, retire early, put food on the table. The thought that a cost cutting decision by the company CEO can result the layoff of thousands of people - and you’re one of them! “You must understand - it’s just a business decision.” Yea right - so you can make 20 million dollars this year instead of 15 million!
Many of us are tired of our lives and lively hood being controlled by the whims of others. Things we don’t have control over. Let face it. Life is very short. If we’re lucky we only have 50 or so productive years with which to work in this life. Why not spend it enriching yourself instead of someone else - or the shareholders.
Despite what many nay-sayers proclaim these days, America is still the land of opportunity. As Ann Landers said:
Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them.
It all starts with an idea.. a spark. A desire to accomplish more in life. Or maybe you have more modest goals. Like paying for your kids college, or funding your hobby. Or just the satisfaction of building something. I used to build very complex models of stuff like airplanes or ships or puzzles - that took hours of concentration. But when I was done there was a letdown - or sense of loss. The goal had been accomplished....now what?
I think God ingrained in us a natural desire to achieve. To accomplish. To set goals and meet them. For me it’s building and fixing things..figuring things out. And when we’re not challenged we kind of whither. Its the adversity, the challenge, the work that stirs. Look at Steve Jobs - probably the most successful entrepreneur in current times. Do you think he was just motivated by money?
Some of the most successful companies in America (or the world) got their start in a garage or basement. Here’s some examples you’ll probably recognize:
The most valuable technology company in the world, Apple Computer, had very humble beginnings. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started the company building computers in Steve Jobs parents garage.
Two guys named Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard found Hewlett Packard in Dave’s garage back in the late 1930’s. One of their first customers was Walt Disney - see below.
Walt Disney’s uncle named Robert Disney allowed Walt and his brother Roy to set up a studio in his garage. Disney today is one of the largest entertainment companies in the world.
One of the most recognizable names in motorcycles - Harley Davidson got it’s start in a small wooden shed in Milwaukee Wisconsin. William Harley and his business partner Authur Davidson built a powered bicycle in the early 1900’s.
A lady named Susan Wojcicki allowed two guys named Larry Page and Sergey Brin to setup in her garage. This became the search engine Google - the most recognizable name on the Internet.
Starting a business from home - your in good company. That’s a pretty impressive list of companies begun in someones home - or garage.
Becoming an Entrepreneur
So what makes an entrepreneur? Well it really takes three things; an idea or vision, the drive, and a willingness to act – or work. Notice I didn’t say successful entrepreneur – we’ll get to that in a minute.
There’s no prerequisite to being an entrepreneur. Everyone from a kid running a lemonade stand, or a lawn mowing or babysitting service, to a college dropout with an idea. Or someone who just lost their job.
Thousands of people are starting a business from home every year and many are successful. What makes some succeed and others fail? One of the most common characteristics of a successful business is a sense of urgency. A feeling that action must be taken soon. It may be driven by a need to provide for their family, a restlessness with your current situation, or a need to control your own life. That’s what motivates entrepreneurs to risk their savings, current job, 401(k), or home.
You want to be the driver of your life and not a passive victim of it. When this point is reached, its easier to take on big challenges and risks - as well as endure the hardships necessary when starting a business from home.
As Steve Pavlina writes: Desire melts adversity. Someone who has a sense of purpose has no problem with the hard work needed to succeed.
Create and Deliver Something of Value
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what makes some businesses succeed while others fail – despite the exhaustive effort of the owner. I noticed successful business owners all took a different path to success. Some were free thinkers while others were very detail oriented.
Assuming you have the drive, I think the common denominator to start a business from home successfully is to create and deliver something of value. Otherwise you’re just wasting your time and money - or someone else.
Many people get caught up in these business opportunity schemes - some people refer to them as pyramid schemes. All they really want to do is make money. They never really consider providing value – just getting other people’s money. This kind of business will fundamentally fail. Don’t get me wrong – there are many direct sales and MLM opportunities out there that are reputable and valid. It’s because they provide a quality product or service – they add value.
You’ll notice the people who get caught up in these schemes go through a downward spiral. There’s a lot of buzz and excitement initially. And they appear to be prosperous. But eventually everyone catches on and realizes there’s no substance. There’s nothing of value to it. These folks who perpetuate these schemes run out of people to take advantage of.
Key to Success When Starting A Business From Home
So how do you create value and deliver (or distribute) it?
Creating something of value is using your skills, talents, knowledge, or aptitude in a way that benefits someone else – or solves their problem. Delivering the value is making sure someone receives something of benefit from your efforts.
If you can’t create and deliver your value, you’ll find it hard to maintain any steady income from your efforts and your efforts starting a business from home will eventually whither away.
Creating something of value only gets you half way there. Take the content on this website for example. You may find all of this discussion on how to start a business from home useful – or not. Assuming you did you had to discover it.
That’s where the delivery comes in. Out of all the info on the web discussing how to start a home business, you landed here. And why is that? Well first of all because our host Site Build It hosts the site and makes it available on the web. But also because of a search engine result or another referring site – it was delivered to your screen. And it ranked well or was referred because someone valued its content.
You may know some very talented people who work very hard at what they do. But their efforts never reach a large enough audience and they have a hard time making a living at what they love to do and are very good at. There’s many people in the arts like this. All their effort is spent on the creative process and hardly any on the delivery (or marketing) effort. These talented people usually resent others in their field who are successful. And it’s not necessarily because they are better – it’s just because they can deliver their talent.
I’ll bet there are hundreds of great guitar players in Nashville. But only a handful play for recording sessions or in bands that make a decent living. The rest work regular jobs like everyone else and satisfy their creative desire as a hobby.
My mom makes great cheesecakes. And if she had the time and desire she could probably do quit well starting a business from home. She creates something that many people value – mostly her family and friends who have had a piece of her delicious cheesecake.
She created the value by baking great cheesecakes - and believe me they are hard to make. She delivered the value by giving away cheesecakes to family and friends – which created demand for something of value – a great tasting cheesecake. So every year around the holidays she gets several requests for cheesecakes.
Timing For Starting A Business From Home
A slow economy can be a good time for starting a business from home. You hear a lot of negative press when the economy is struggling. This creates a paranoid mentality in people.
But there are some great opportunities during these times.
People start cutting back on their spending. They quit spending on non-essentials. Needs give way to wants. And because of this many businesses fail. Especially businesses that don’t really meet important needs. A lot of purchases are put off or avoided. Consumers become very aware of value. They become savvy consumers expecting the most from their money.
That’s why those businesses who provide good value will many times actually do better in a slow economy. And people will come in droves to these businesses in a tough economy. Walmart is a good example. They seem to be busier when the economy slows down. People used to go to expensive department stores for clothes now get their jeans there. That goes for a lot of other stuff also. While the businesses who deliver questionable value - or fluff - start getting concerned. The United States is full of fluff businesses.
You can also get good deals on office equipment from companies who have gone out of business.
Risk and Starting A Business From Home
Taking risks is just a part of life and business. But there are different categories of risk. The most important is intelligent risk. What are intelligent risks? These are risks where the upside is significant and the downside is limited. Stupid risks on the other hand are ones that have little chance of a success with little upside potential.
One of the important characteristics of intelligent risk is to think long term. When you think long term its easier to withstand setbacks to get to the success ahead. You want to get through the failures and setbacks as quickly as possible.
But many of us are not very good at recognizing and taking intelligent risks. The dumbest mistakes we make are errors of omission - I know I am guilty of this on many occasions.
Work From Home Business Ideas
Getting an idea for starting a business from home and deciding what to do - the fact that your here means you’ve probably already go a good idea. Here’s more discussion on finding your niche when starting a business from home but you’re not sure what to do.
Financing Your Home Based Business Start Up
There's a lot of potential sources of financing for your home based business start up. Explore the options to pay for your work from home business ideas and see what the advantages and disadvantages are.
Starting A Home Based Business - Legal Structure
Choosing a business structure when starting a home based business. An explanation of the different organizational forms for your home based business like Sole Proprietor, LLC, S- Corporation, Partnership, etc.
Start A Home Base Business - Naming Your Business
Choosing a name for your business. The importance of choosing the right name for your small home business ideas.
Business Plan to Start A Business From Home
How to Develop a business plan to start a business from home and what it should include. Planning to implement your idea for from home business. Even if you plan on self financing, a business plan can provide a road map to guide you to success.
15 Marketing Ideas when Starting Home Based Business
Getting the word out when starting a business from home. Here are some creative and economical ways to market your home based business start up.
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