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February 11, 2002
Checklist For Starting A Home-Based Business
By Tad Hulse

Poor management happens to be one of the leading causes of home business failures today. Year after year, a lack of organizational experience and aptitude is blamed for the majority going belly up. So let me ask you, in the midst of starting your own home business, what do you think your chances of success are?

Almost as many are being started as there are being shut down. Much of your success lies within your abilities to run the business properly. Do you have what it takes? Will you be able to judge, and then satisfy, every customer's wants and needs? Can you do this accurately and quickly enough to more than compensate for risks due to factors beyond your control? Such accomplishments require expert management. To prepare the fish-feed known as today's marketplace, here are a few basic tips of starting a home business in hope of steering you in the right direction.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Join an industry association that's related to the product or service you are offering. Subscribe to magazines that cover your business in depth. Look at joining an organization like the National Association of Self-Employed. They include great sources of advice and information as well as suitable discounts on insurance, rental cars and other business expenses. You should constantly read and research topics about your business. Don't overlook the Internet either, its resources are limitless.

Make sure you stick to the financial plan

A budget and a measurement process to keep track of how you are doing monthly are fundamental. If you don't know where you stand financially and have no short term and long term financial goals, then you are a sitting duck; letting fate determine your success (and we know those odds are hardly ever favorable). You must take control of the direction your business travels.

Cash forecasting

It sounds boring, difficult and tedious, but it's not. Keep it simple and straightforward. Look at your three-month projected income, then your monthly overhead. The difference is your cash flow. You must do this to avoid being taken aback. Most businesses drive themselves straight into a brick wall of debt because they fail to understand the cash flow.

Find yourself an advisory board

Sounds ridiculous for a small operation like a home business? Hardly. The board can be made up of family members, friends or business colleagues you can depend on. Request them to be your board of directors and review your business plans and results with them. Having people to bounce ideas off and getting objective opinions is crucial. Just make sure they have some sort of business sense as well, or you'll be wasting your time.

Always maintain a balance between work, play and family

This is extremely critical for long-term success. Investing long hours on a short-term basis to get your business of the ground is normal, but if you continue the same pace on a regular basis, it's a sign that you may be losing perspective. You need to be able to step away every now and then to get your batteries recharged or you'll burn out. Having time for family is important, because if they suffer, it is almost certain your business will also.

Network. Network. Network.

It's much too easy to get isolated in a home business. Push yourself to get out and about and mingle with others who might be able to provide a business support-structure for you. One of the great benefits of a corporation that many take for granted is the teamwork and the ongoing support it supplies. You must to create that for yourself. Do not think you can do it on your own; its near impossible. Talking to others you will come across great ideas, which in turn will not only help you, but inspired you.

Keep Motivated

One of the most difficult aspects of a home business is creating the discipline and motivation you need to tackle each day with. It's easy to get distracted from essential tasks that need daily attention. Always keep your work separate from the rest of your responsibilities. Develop a daily itinerary. Set goals for each week. Review what you are accomplishing. It's a struggle we all endure and one of the key elements that can make or break a business when starting out.

Do what you love

If you are in a business that you loathe, success is not going to come easy. If fact, it's not going to come at all. Find where your true talents lie and what skill you possess, then get in a business that exploits them. You've heard of the saying, "Do what you love and love what you do." It's imperative for people who are considering starting a business. Remember that success has more to do with attitude than aptitude.

Tad Hulse is an American freelance writer who has covered topics from small business ventures to world travel. Currently he is based in Oslo, the capital of Norway. Email: hulsetad@yahoo.com.

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