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Tired of commuting? Work from home
By Sara Isaac
Thinking of starting a business out of your home? You're not alone.
Home-based businesses are appealing to a growing number of workers who long for a better work-life balance, according to recent research by Darrell Zahorsky, small-business expert for About.com.
Many workers want more time for family and leisure activities, said Zahorsky, who looked at trends in home-based business for Homestead Technologies, a company that builds Web sites for small businesses.
Long commutes to work are part of the problem, Zahorsky said. Census figures show that the average American worker commutes 24.3 minutes daily -- which is the equivalent of about 21/2 workweeks a year.
"Americans spend over 100 hours commuting to work annually, and that extended amount of time in their cars takes valuable time away from their families and the ability to pursue other activities that they would normally enjoy," Zahorsky said.
Here are the 10 hottest home-based businesses for 2007, according to Zahorsky:
E-learning: With advances in Web application tools such as podcasts and video blogs, development costs will decrease.
EBay aftermarket: Helping companies conduct market research, pricing strategies, shipping, and competitive analysis is a great niche business.
Art classes for kids: There is a major market for art education, which is thought to help foster innovative thinking in children.
Garage organizers: Just as organizing closets was the next big thing in the '80's, the messy garage is the final space to clean up.
Background checks: Small businesses with limited resources are turning to background-check companies to handle investigation and due diligence.
Pet sitting: You get paid to walk and enjoy the companionship of pets.
Specialized coaching: This market has boomed in the recent years, including specialized areas such as life, spiritual, corporate, relationship and business coaching.
Home-based debt collection: Debt has become a way of life for many Americans. A home-based collection service can serve the niche sections of this market.
Specialized outsourcing: The small-business market has limited resources and a focus on core competencies. Specialized outsourcing from home to small business will have a solid market position for years to come.
Scrapbooking: In today's digital age, opportunities abound for the home-based scrapbook artist, workshop teacher or direct-sales representative.
All in the family
Once you've started a business, who is going to help you run it?
For microbusinesses -- those with up to 10 employees -- the answer most often is family members.
Whether a spouse fills in behind the cash register or a child pitches in and washes dishes after school, family help is a key to success for microbusinesses, a recent poll found.
The online survey of more than 500 members of the National Association for the Self-Employed found that nearly three out of five owners rely on family to help run their businesses.
Forty-one percent said they depend on their spouses to help keep operations running smoothly. Sixteen percent said their children work at their business, and 4 percent rely on their parents.
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