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It takes timing to succeed with a home business

Know the Score

Posted: June 14, 2008 2:32 p.m.
Updated: August 15, 2008 5:03 a.m.
In last week's column, we talked about beating the recession by creating your own business from home.

With the price of gasoline, energy and just general living expenses, that seems to be an excellent idea.

Since you've had a week to think about it and list some things that you'd enjoy doing and earning a living at, you should have a quasi-business plan down on paper.

At least you should have on paper what your current expenses are, what expenses you'll incur, and what talents and resources you have and need.

You should also have visualized your office or working space - apart from family distractions. Consider whether your computer needs updating, or even if the "family" computer won't work for you and you'll need a second one.

Maybe you'll even need another phone line and number so little Johnny won't grab the phone when it rings and wreck that big deal you were working on.

That should have brought to mind a myriad other considerations - and I'm sure it filled up your week. It will probably be another few weeks before you're actually ready to sit down at your desk in front of your computer and start working, so today let's look at another facet of this venture: timing!

In order to ride the wave of success, there are a few things that you should know before you start. When is it the right time? Predicting that can seem difficult unless you are aware of the writing on the wall.

For instance, if you live in Florida, Nevada or California, now might not be the best time to get into the real-estate business. Why?

Because the housing markets in those three regions are in serious trouble.

When you're going to be getting into business for yourself, it's important to pay attention to societal trends. A couple of years ago it was house-flipping that was hot, and many people were making all kinds of money.

You know, buying up undervalued properties, fixing them up, and then selling at a nice profit. They even made a television show about the practice.

The reason that was so successful was because it was a great time in the housing market. Banks and lenders were making it easier for John Q. Public to buy homes and the business was booming like a big bass drum.

Paying attention to trends is very important for opening up a business. You have to find the right time, and that all depends on what people are doing and what they want. Of course, if you've been outsourced from your job there's no question about the timing - it's time for you.

Some things to give you a handle on the success of your choice are paying attention to trends and your target market. For instance, there have always been healthy alternatives and health-food stores with organically grown food. The thing is it didn't really explode until it became actively promoted by governments and the media.

People became more health conscious, and with that new businesses opened in droves. Juice bars, healthy vitamin-enriched fruit smoothie bars, restaurants that touted "health food" menus, and numerous stores selling vitamins and health supplements. It even spilled over onto television, and into the health equipment/exercise equipment business.

The earlier you act on a developing trend, the better. If you get into a trend late, though, all is not lost. Find ways to build on, alter or expose a new characteristic of a trend to benefit.

There are also business owners who like to go against the grain.

Instead of seeing trends as opportunities, they develop contrarian paths and develop specific niches. The key to finding success taking the contrarian path lies in specialties.

If you're planning on opening your hamburger stand across the street from the new health-food store, you're going to have to sell your customers on the unique, delicious flavor of your calorie-filled burgers.
Timing your move for success depends on one thing: research!|

Whether you decide to go with or against the grain, you'll need to do the proper research before you venture out into your own business. And this doesn't only pertain to retail business; it is true in the financial, legal, consulting, mentoring, teaching, writing, or whatever business it is you've chosen. Research is the key.

One of the best methods of research is to look at the competition that exists for your target market. See what it is that they are or aren't doing for their customers.

Talk to your potential clients about whether or not your idea seems feasible, and is it something (service or product) for which they've been waiting?

When you've done your research, you'll know when the time is right to catch your wave of success, and you'll be ready when it rolls around.

Commentary by Maureen Stephenson, a local author and owner of REMS Publishing & Publicity. Her column represents her own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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