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Home-Based Businesses Need "The Right Stuff"
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippians are finding home-based businesses a successful trend if they include the right person, a marketable product or skill and helpful resources.
"Not just anyone can start a home-based business. There are three requirements a person must possess: an entrepreneurial spirit, family-support and good business skills," said Beth Duncan, Extension small business specialist at Mississippi State University.
An entrepreneur must be able to organize and operate a business and also be willing to take a challenge. This type of person is creative, innovative, a generalist (able to see the big picture), flexible, a self-starter, a moderate risk-taker, and has high self- esteem, common sense, self-discipline and a leader-personality.
Duncan said for a home-based business to survive, family support is essential. She suggested discussing the business with the family to see if they are willing to support the business and integrate it into their lives.
"In addition to entrepreneurial spirit and family support, examine yourself to see if you have good business skills," Duncan said.
Good business skills should include management, marketing and communication. A person must be able to manage people, inventory and finances, and be able to market their product or service to reach target customers. A business person must know how to deal with employees, customers, venders and suppliers.
An essential part of starting a home-based business is the development of a business plan, which includes choosing a marketable product or skill to sell.
"Turn something you enjoy doing, such as a hobby, into a business," she said.
Duncan suggested using talents, technology and things people would rather pay someone else to do, to make money as well. For instance, teach singing lessons, offer computer programming or start a cleaning service from home.
"Most businesses fail due to a lack of planning, so you must plan thoroughly before starting a business if you want it to succeed," Duncan said.
The newest trend in home-based businesses is virtual businesses, such as electronic retailing or e-tailing.
"Many people are creating Web sites and selling products through the Web. Even though some people have made a lot of money this way, it doesn't mean that everyone will. You have to have a business strategy for an e-business just like any other business," Duncan said.
There are many benefits to starting a home-based business, such as lower start-up costs, lower overhead and more flexibility.
"You do not have to rent or build a building when you work out of home, and you have more flexible working hours which can mean more time to spend with your family," Duncan said.
Almost half of the new business start-ups in Mississippi are home-based, and most home-based businesses began as a way to make extra money.
"Their success rate is higher than that of businesses outside the home," Duncan said.
Besides these benefits, technologies, such as fax machines and the Internet, have made it easier to start a home-based business.
For more information about starting a home-based business, contact the Food and Fiber Center at MSU Extension Service at (662) 325-2160. Also, visit Home-Based Business: Basic Start-Up Guide at ext.msstate.edu:80/fce/homebus/bbspub.html or the Home-Based and Micro Business Briefs newsletter at ext.msstate.edu:80/newsletters/hb- mbb.