odors. Those operating without a required license or permit also can be zapped. Many home enterprises such as day care and catering services require certificates of operation. Check with your municipal, county or state office to see if you will need this document. Fees vary according to state and type of operation, but range from $25-$100.
While there are many advantages to setting up shop at home, there are some drawbacks, particularly if the lines of separation between your work environment and home life are not clearly drawn. Setting up a completely separate area for your home office is important because it will qualify you for a home office deduction around tax time. When selecting an area, consider using a spare bedroom (the basement or an enclosed porch or sunroom also is ideal). Forgo working from the kitchen table or family room. As your business becomes more successful, you may need to add personnel or expand your office, so project your space needs for at least five years. Also, determine if your business requires you to bring clients to your home. If so, plan a distraction-free area in your office to meet and talk with customers. You may also want to consider renting office space for your meetings. Brower advises those operating home-based import/export trading companies to rent space when servicing clients. “It behooves you to bring your clients or suppliers to what is traditionally viewed as a business setting,” says Brower. “You can’t bring your Korean manufacturer into your home and talk to him across the dining room table.”
The home is a relaxed environment, so work-at-home entrepreneurs must be self-disciplined. It can be very easy to get distracted by Oprah and Montel, so be sure to exercise your “self-management muscle.” And if you have children, hire a baby-sitter during office hours or schedule outings for the kids so they do not interfere with the business.
Featured below are three businesses that industry experts consider to be among the top home enterprises for the ’90s. Although there are hundreds you can launch from home, we made our selections on the basis of their low startup cost, long-term profit potential and high marketability. The companies chosen are also positioned in industries expected to experience tremendous growth after the millennium.
BECOME THE LIFE OF THE PARTY: EVENT AND MEETING PLANNING
Virtually everyone likes attending black-tie affairs, summer festivals and golf invitationals. Forty-something Rusty Jackson not only attends such events, she plans them. For 12 years, Jackson, who was the national group manager of community relations for Coors in Washington, D.C., did everything from tapping beer kegs, gathering T-shirts and hanging banners to developing community relations events and strategic planning. But after three down-sizings, she took her strategic planning and event management skills and branched out on her own. In January 1996, Jackson invested about $25,000 in start-up capital to open Rusty Jackson Productions, (301) 333-0003 a special events management company in D.C. But commuting expenses to and from her office in Georgetown got to be