Many reasons exist for wanting to start a cottage industry, whether you have suffered a layoff and are seeking an alternate career or are simply fulfilling a long-time desire to have your own home-based business doing something you love. Whatever the case, you can get off to a solid start when following a basic game plan.
Target the products or services you will provide. Make a list of items you are good at creating. If your list is short or nonexistent, you may want to consider things in which you are interested and could learn how to do. Go through the list and consider the implications of making those items or providing that service in terms of time, cost and degree of competition you will face. As you research, keep a notebook of any resources you come across or ideas you have. All will later come in handy.
Research the state and federal home-based business laws and zoning requirements on the industry of interest. The laws could differ significantly, depending on your industry.
Create a name and image. Think about your target audience as you deliberate and how you want your business to appear. Consider packaging, labeling, logo and tagline. Keep various notes on your thoughts as you may change your mind several times after your business is operational. Once you have a name, you will need to file for a fictitious business name in accordance with state law.
Create a website. Before the rise of the Internet, most cottage industries promoted their businesses at craft fairs, church events and basic word of mouth. Now, businesses gain more exposure for much less effort through websites, whether through their own domain names or a sub-domain on a larger site like eBay, Etsy or Artfire.
Promote your website. Scores of ways exist to do this. The thing to keep in mind is to find a target audience and advertise to them specifically. The most beneficial way to do this is to look for other blogs or websites that fit into your niche. Often, these sites are happy to run a feature post or page on businesses and products.
Research your competition. Do searches for blogs and websites that may already sell similar products or services. Continue to promote "the old fashioned way" with business cards, word of mouth, craft fairs and more. Set a work schedule and stick to it. It's easy to get off track working too much or too little at home. Make a list of goals for your business and refer to it each month to see if you're on track.
Don't be afraid to change your home-based business over time. As you get a feel for the market, you may need to tweak a few things.
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