With all this talk about a recession, it's hard to feel any kind of job security lately. However, starting an online business can be a quick and affordable way to make additional money, while providing a safe backup plan if you fear that your job might be in jeopardy.
Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer, author and speaker who specializes in small business and entrepreneurship. His latest book, The Small Business Bible, offers several tips on how to recession-proof your income in uncertain economic times.
· Do what you love. Having trouble coming up with a business idea? Starting a small business is not only a great strategy for protecting and increasing your income; it's also an opportunity to make a living doing something you truly love.
Start by thinking of all of the things you enjoy doing in your spare time, and then see if you can come up with a way to make them profitable. For example, if you're constantly knitting clothing for your friends and family, why not offer your products to the masses?
Or, if you've been collecting baseball cards since you were a kid, you could create a database for people to buy, sell and trade them. The possibilities are virtually endless when you get to allow your creative side to take over.
· Make your home your home base. Setting up a small business in your home is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to build a startup — especially during a recession. In fact, the 2005 U.S. Census says that small businesses have generated 60 percent to 80 percent of new net jobs annually in the country, all during the last decade.
"By working out of your home, you can avoid the not insignificant costs of a brick-and-mortar storefront, such as rent and utilities. And, by working from home you'll eliminate all commuting costs, which is especially important with the rapid increases of gas prices this year," says Strauss.
There can also be significant tax write-offs associated with having a home office and using your vehicle for business purposes, he adds.
· Go global without going anywhere. When looking at the various types of home-based small businesses, online businesses are not only the most-affordable; they also have the highest impact. Over the last several years, there has been an increasing trend for businesses, large and small, to get online.
With an online storefront, you can sell anywhere. Even if your area is in a recession, it's important to keep in mind that other places around the world are not, and you can easily reach those global markets with a good functioning Search Engine Optimization campaign.
Drop-shipping — a supply technique in which the retailer transfers customer orders to wholesalers who then ship the goods directly to the customer — is cost-effective, completely eliminates all storage costs and keeps your home office clutter-free.
· Take time to make time. One of the many benefits to having an at-home online business is that you can work around your own schedule. Whether you're choosing to start a business for extra income to supplement your day job, or if you've recently left or lost your full-time job and are choosing to venture out on your own — an online business provides you with the flexibility to work at your own pace and around your own schedule.
So, not only does an at-home online business afford you the opportunity to create actual income, rather than the debt and loans that starting a traditional storefront business would require, but also allows you to make your own schedule.
· Look every bit as big as the competition. "Even if you're working alone from a laptop on your sofa, an online storefront allows you the opportunity to appear as established and professional as the 'big boys.' "
· Don't be afraid to ask for help. While establishing your small business, you should look for an online services partner that offers around-the-clock customer service and a wide array of design, marketing and e-commerce tools that can help make your Web site stand out.
This article appears in cooperation with ARA Content.