Book Review – The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business

If you are a regular reader, you’re probably aware that some of my favorite books are the ones that try to provide instruction to those people who have little, possibly no, experience in assorted financial fields.  Similarly, I’m a fan of information about how to start your own business or try similar entrepreneurial ventures (this blog is my attempt at such an entrepreneurial venture, after all).  So, how would I feel about a book that attempts to prove information about home-based businesses designed for, say, complete idiots?

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business should answer that question.  Barbara Weltman, a home-based business woman noted as an expert on business and taxes, attempts to share how to start a home-based business in an easy to follow and imitate manner.  Just how easy to follow did it turn out?  Let’s read it to find out?

Summary

Starting a Home-Based BusinessThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business opens with a short Introduction, introducing Ms. Weltman and sharing how she came to work at home, starting over thirty years ago.  It also provides a brief overview of what will be covered in the remaining sections of the book, starting with:

Part 1: There’s No Place Like Home – To Start a Business

Before you learn about how to start a home-based business, you should probably know why it would be a good idea.  The first part of the book looks at some of the reasons why you might want to start a home-based business, providing some pros (and cons) of that type of business arrangement, over three chapters, beginning with:

Chapter 1: The Home-Based Business Revolution – The first chapter opens the book with some encouragement to start your own home-business.  It emphasizes how technology is making it easier to do so, and stresses how it is possible to be highly successful working from home.

Chapter 2: Why Start From Home – Here the advantages of working from home are mentioned, from cutting out work-related expenses to having increased flexibility when it comes to work hours.  It’s not all happy news, though; some of the downsides of self-employment are briefly discussed, mainly how your business and personal life will no longer be as separated.

Chapter 3: Do What You Love and the Bucks Will Roll In – This chapter finishes off the first part of the book by offering some self-assessment, to see where you stand as a potential business-owner.  From your financial standing to your potentially money-making hobbies, numerous factors are discussed.

Part 2: Finding Your Perfect (Business) Match

If you’re set on developing a business from your home, your next step will be to decide on what sort of business to start.  There are several options presented in this part of the book, from joining pre-existing businesses to starting your own.

Chapter 4: Create a Business Concept – Before you can begin to run a business, you need to figure out what type of business to run.  This chapter looks at how to create a decent business plan.  There’s a particular emphasis on how to test your idea to ensure that it will be successful.

Chapter 5: The Franchise Option: Business in a Box – Franchises, large business where you have the right to sell a product or service in a given area, are discussed here.  Finding a good franchise for working at home and ensuring that you are entering into a good arrangement are discussed.

Chapter 6: Turnkey Business: Up and Ready to Go – Should you want a different method of getting into an existing business, the possibility of turnkey businesses are discussed here.  Finding existing businesses, buying a business opportunity and even network marketing are all discussed as possible home-based business opportunities.

Chapter 7: Online Ideas – With the rise of the Internet, it’s worth considering creating a business that allows you to work from home online.  Several possibilities of online business work are covered, as are methods of using online resources for your business, even it’s primarily offline.

Part 3: Show Me the Money

With a business idea firmly established, the next part of your business set-up will be to get it up and running. This part of the book will show how to get the basic legal establishment complete and create a plan for your business, as well as gaining the money needed to run it (and budgeting that money so you don’t run out).

Chapter 8: Forming Your Business – This chapter covers some of the legal issues involved with running a business.  Choosing what legal structure to create (sole proprietorship, partnership, or so on) is a major subject, and the importance of getting all the appropriate licenses is also mentioned.

Chapter 9: Why You Need a Business Plan – With everything squared away legally, this chapter covers how create a business plan.  You get a list of the sections included in a business plan and how to write one for your own intended business.

Chapter 10: Budgeting Blues Made Easy – Budgeting is a major portion of any business as well, so here you get plenty of advice on how to do so.  You also get some thoughts on what expenses you should include in your budgets as you work to create your business.

Chapter 11: Raising Dollars with Sense – All businesses require some money to run, and here you get some advice on how to get money your potential business will need.  From using your own money to getting loans to bringing in partners, numerous options are covered.

Part 4: Let’s Get Physical: Setting Up Your Office

Regardless of what type of home-based business you have, you’ll need a place to do that work.  Part 4 looks at how to create that place in your home, providing a guide to the needs of a new business person.  You’ll also get advice on keeping your home life from interfering with your home-work life.

Chapter 12: Office Space in Your Place – Here you get advice on setting up your home office.  A major issue discussed is how to get the zoning variance to have an office in your house (possibly important, depending on your business), as well as some of the basic equipment to include in your home office, which is continued in the next chapter:

Chapter 13: Equipment: The Bare Essentials – Here is where numerous important types of office equipment are covered, from phones to answering machines (or voicemail) to perhaps most importantly, computers.  Methods of protecting your computer are discussed at the end of the chapter.

Chapter 14: Creating Your Perfect Website – Even if your business is not online, keeping up a decent website is a great method of drawing attention and obtaining more business.  This chapter covers how to create a website or get professional help,

Chapter 15: Separating Business From Pleasure – When you work at home, the office is pretty close to well, everything else in your life.  Here you get some suggestions on how to get your work done without invading your personal life.

Part 5: Running Your Home-Based Business

Now that everything is set for you to work at home, it’s time to get down to it; working at home, that is.  The last part of the book covers many of the issues that new home-based businesses will face, from marketing their goods and services to managing the profits (and expenses, including taxes) of the business.

Chapter 16: Working Alone and Loving It – In can be hard to work without anyone else, and this chapter discusses how to handle the difficulty of working by yourself.  You also get advice on how to network with other home business owners.

Chapter 17: Marketing Magic – Getting attention for your business is always important, and this chapter focuses on how to do just that.  Numerous marketing techniques, from word of mouth to online ads are discussed, as are things like market research to determine just what your market wants.

Chapter 18: Protecting What You Have – Alas, things can go wrong, in business as in life.  This chapter focuses on how to handle problems in your business, mainly by getting a range of insurance policies to cover various disasters.

Chapter 19: Getting Paid for What You Do – Here you get some advice on how to bill your clients for your services.  You also get some discussion of the different types of payment (cash, credit, and check) and how to handle things if your clients don’t pay you properly.

Chapter 20: Business by the Numbers – When you are getting paid for your services, you’ll need to keep track of your income (and your outgo, while you’re at it).  This chapter provides help on creating an accounting system to keep your funds under control.

Chapter 21: Sharing Your Profits with Uncle Sam – Taxes are never a fun thing (and are usually not that easy, either).  Being a home-business owner complicates matters further, and this chapter covers some of the issues involved with paying taxes when you run a business in your home.

Chapter 22: Teamwork -The final chapter of the book looks at how to hire help for your business, should you need it.  Numerous types of potential employees are discussed, as are some of the details of how to hire them.  The contractual and payment details of having someone on your payroll are also discussed.

Appendixes

The book ends with several appendixes, starting with a glossary of the terms used throughout the book.  There’s also a list of State Economic Development Offices, which you can contact for information as a potential business owner.  The book rounds out with a list of the 100 Most Popular Home-Based Businesses, complete with websites to get more information on how to start.

Pros

  • Very Easy to Read: As you might guess from a book directed towards ‘Idiots’, it’s easy to read through this book and get the appropriate advice for starting a business.
  • Useful Information: The book is filled to the brim with suggestions on ways to start or improve a home-based business, from handling legal issues to creating an accounting system.
  • Lots of References: Where the book doesn’t provide enough information, it provides sources to look for more advice; the list of popular businesses at the end of the book is particularly useful.

Cons

  • Overly Broad Subjects: With potential businesses as broadly diverse as pet sitter to personal chef covered, there is not much depth provided on any given business idea.
  • Sometimes Dated: For a book written in 2007, there are quite a few references that are from well before the time the book was written, suggestions to use AOL as a source of advertising, for example.

Overall

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business is a very useful guide for anyone starting a business of their own.  You may need to get more advice on a particular business type depending on the sort of business you seek to start.  Still, you’ll get lots of useful suggestions, references and resources for any type of business through this book.

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