It's 5:30 p.m. and you're sitting in the usual endless traffic on the Beltway trying desperately just to get to your destination. Your mind is racing trying to figure out how you're going to get the kids, make dinner, run errands, clean and do a ton of other tasks so that you can attempt to get the kids in bed before 10 p.m. And, in fact, if you're like most commuters working a traditional 9-5, this is probably a scenario that plays out fairly regularly for you. Well, I have one word for you — telecommuting. While most people view telecommuting specifically as an arrangement made with your employer, a growing number of people are building their very own businesses right from the comfort of their couches.
So, what does that mean for you? Home-based businesses and other nontraditional employment are certainly gaining popularity. Why you ask? Many home-based businesses can be started with a small investment compared to starting a brick-and-mortar operation — in addition to freedom over your work schedule and income, which are two enticing advantages. Oh, and not to mention, no more commuting! In many cases, all that's needed are a phone and a computer with a good WiFi connection.
What follows are five ideas that are currently in demand and are also relatively easy to set up:
Virtual assistant/customer service rep — Virtual assistants, otherwise known as VAs, provide a wide variety of "virtual" services to other businesses and entrepreneurs. These services may include things like email management, calendar management, customer service, marketing, technical support and bookkeeping. Using a VA can help a growing business control costs because having off-site personnel means you don't necessarily need an office location or provide staff with expensive equipment. And with the rise of technology, it is easier than ever before to provide virtual services and stay connected with your clients without ever leaving your home. If you are organized and have an administrative background, this might be the business for you.
Creative concepts — Whether it's something like making gift baskets or crocheting, if you love to create, then why not consider making money out of your talents? After all, if you have a talent, there is most likely someone out there willing to pay for it. First, do some research online to determine what is selling well and the pricing of the items. Once you have determined what to sell, your next step will be to determine where to sell it. Some great places to start would be Etsy, Facebook groups or even local craft fairs, where you can display and sell your goods in person.
Technology — There are currently a tremendous amount of work-from-home opportunities in the information technology sector. There is a huge demand for people who build websites, develop mobile applications, provide tech support and, of course, the fairly new occupation of social media manager (yes, you can get paid for being on Facebook all day). If you are tech savvy and have a passion for helping people understand technology, this could be the opportunity for you.
eCommerce — eCommerce can be a great option for people who have a ton of clutter to get rid of, have a retail background or are just really good at finding great deals on popular products. Consider starting your business on established online retailers eBay, Etsy or Amazon. You can source products to sell from yard sales, flea markets or even online. The goal is to find products that are in high demand and that you can resell and make a decent profit. Remember, your pricing for each product will also need to take into account your shipping costs as well as any overhead costs from running the business. If you are not interested in starting your own store, you can also help other people manage their online stores.
Event planning — Do you love throwing amazing parties and organizing conferences or seminars? Start an event-planning business and turn that passion into a lucrative small business. Individuals and businesses alike need event planners. After all, there are millions of weddings, corporate events, birthday parties and anniversary parties every year. As an event planner, you will need to be resourceful and extremely detail oriented. You will also need the patience to deal with clients' expectations and demands — and definitely a lot of patience to stay calm during stressful situations.
So, the next time you are sitting in traffic wondering why this is necessary, that just may be the perfect time to begin thinking up your ideal home-based business.
Danielle Moser is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.