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Love Is Not All You Need When Starting a Home Business

August 23, 2000|AZRIELA JAFFE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

What are the best home business ideas for couples who love working together?

I am always troubled by this question. I worry about the couple who go to franchising trade shows, answer business opportunity advertisements, get recruited into multilevel marketing organizations or plunk down their savings into a business they hear is "hot."

Choose a business that has market potential, but do so after determining the answer to more significant questions like these:

* What intrigues one or both of you? What has occupied your time and interest? What subject could you imagine learning for hours a day and devoting most of your waking time to?

* What kind of positive contribution do you most want to make to the world? What do you value? Who do you want to help? Who do you enjoy being with?

* How many financial resources do you have, and how much money do you want to risk? How much cash flow do you need to pay your bills? Are you willing to make lifestyle sacrifices to enable you to work together from home? Can you handle putting all of your financial eggs in one basket?

* Do you want a business that is compatible with children? One that can stand frequent interruptions, or can be done intermittently throughout the day, or one that will grow into something you could bring adult children into?

* What kind of home office space do you have now or could you create? Will it enable employees to come to your home? How much room do you have for equipment? Will clients come to your home? Will you be sharing a computer? If so, plan carefully how computer-centered your new business will be. Too much time sharing one computer can be very difficult for couples.

* What kind of business will take advantage of both of your skills? Is there a natural choice that builds on one or both of your previous careers? Something that will enable you to begin quickly attracting paying clients? A business that doesn't much interest one spouse, and doesn't really need his or her skills, is a recipe for trouble in a couple-owned business.

* What kinds of hours do you want to work? Do you want a 24-hour Internet business or one with standard daytime operation? Do you want a seven-day-a-week business or one with no weekend work?

* Do either of you have business training, or would a franchise or something with direction be a better alternative? Do you want a business with lots of smaller clients and quick turnaround time or one that serves a smaller number of higher-paying clients with a longer sales cycle? Is one of you a skilled salesperson? What is on your "no matter what, I won't do this" list?

* When you talk with people working in businesses that interest you, what do they tell you about the challenges as well as the joys? Never plunk your savings down on a business opportunity if the only information you have is from the person trying to sell you the deal. That's how people get suckered.

* How much side-by-side contact do you want? Some home businesses, depending on how they are structured, give each spouse autonomy and physical space from each other. Other businesses place you in each other's company all day long. What's your preference?

Starting a business from home with your spouse is a high-risk, high-reward opportunity for your marriage and your finances. Tame your enthusiasm with thorough research of your alternatives. When the right opportunity shows up, you'll both recognize it. Wait until the moment, as anxious as you might be to move forward, when your exhilaration and conviction about a business idea is mutual.

*

Azriela Jaffe is the author of eight books, including "Starting from 'No': 10 Strategies to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection and Succeed in Business." She welcomes reader response and questions to azriela@mindspring.com.

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