A 20-Point Checklist for New Home Businesses
by Angela Wu

You're eager to start your home business and bring in some
extra income. Although you're probably bursting with ideas
and enthusiasm and want to jump right in, take some time to
plan and prepare for your new venture.

Here's a simple checklist you can use in the startup phase
of your home based business. Feel free to add additional
checkpoints of your own!

1) Assess your personality. Are you the entrepreneurial
   type that will do well with your own business? Are you
   self-motivated, disciplined, and willing and able to
   put forth the effort, time, and money? Are you the type
   that can get up after a failure and try again? There
   are many quizzes available to help you decide whether
   or not you're ready for a home business. Try

2) Appraise your skills, knowledge, and experience. Make
   a list of businesses you think you would be capable of

3) Know your interests. If you're doing something you love,
   you are more likely to work harder and enjoy yourself.
   A good place to find unique business ideas is here:

4) Figure out what type of business you want to run. Out
   of the huge number of possibilities, select one that
   works well with your skills and your interests. An
   excellent manual with 16 different Internet 'business
   models' that you can copy is available at

5) Do some market research. Is there a demand for the
   product you plan to sell, and at the price at which
   you want to sell it? After your (projected) expenses,
   will you be profitable?

6) Check out your competitors. How will you distinguish
   yourself from them? Why should customers come to you
   instead of to them? What are they doing right or
   wrong, and how can you improve upon them?

7) Select a business name. Make sure you don't infringe
   upon someone's trademark! You can research trademarks
   at http://www.marksonline.com/ . Consult with a
   qualified legal professional for more information.

8) Know the zoning regulations in your area. Make sure that
   you are permitted to operate a business from your home.
   Some areas may also place restrictions on the type of
   business that can be operated from your home.

9) Find out what licenses, registration, or permits you
   need to operate your home based business.

10) Research any additional regulations applicable to your
    product. Find out if there are restrictions on producing
    it from your home. For example, if you're a caterer, the
    authorities may not allow you to prepare food in your
    home if you have pets running around!

11) Select a business structure, such as sole proprietorship,
    partnership, or corporation. Again, you may want to
    consult with a qualified professional to determine
    what's best for your specific situation.

12) Assess your financial situation. Do you have enough
    to finance a business startup? How will you handle
    emergencies? Don't forget about marketing expenses --
    the success of your business will depend in large part
    on how well you market it.

13) Secure additional funds, if necessary. Loans, lines of
    credit, grants, savings, and employment income are some
    ways that entrepreneurs can finance their businesses.
    The US Small Business Administration has a useful list:

14) Prepare a business plan to help you define your goals
    and stay focused. Again, the US SBA offers help at

15) Investigate the costs associated with purchasing the
    necessary equipment, materials, and supplies. Contact
    several suppliers to compare quality, prices, and

16) Talk to your local tax office. Ask for any relevant
    information on how your home business will affect your
    tax situation.

17) Consider purchasing additional insurance to cover your
    business assets.

18) Set up your home office. Establish rules and 'office
    hours', when customers can generally expect to reach
    you. Consider setting aside a room specifically for
    your office space.

19) Talk to your bank about a business account, to keep
    your business and personal income and expenses separate.

20) Consult with professionals. Depending on your situation,
    you may need to use the services of lawyers, accountants
    or bookkeepers, insurance agents or brokers, and others.

For additional information, read the US Small Business
Administration's 'Small Business Startup Kit' available
at http://www.sba.gov/starting/indexstartup.html .

Angela is the editor of Online Business Basics, a practical
guide to building a business on a beginner's budget. It's
a proven hit with beginners, for the down-to-earth style
and loads of instantly useable tips! For details, visit
http://onlinebusinessbasics.com/article.html  OR request a 
series of 10 free reports to get you started: