Tips for starting a home business

In these tough economic times, many people are taking a hard look at employment alternatives — some, because they’ve lost their seemingly stable jobs in the corporate world; others, because they dream of striking out on their own. In addition, as the Internet gains in popularity and employees discover the advantages of telecommuting, home-based alternatives are becoming increasingly attractive.

If such an alternative appeals to you, don’t quit your day job just yet. Take time to fully investigate the pluses, minuses, and ramifications of starting a company in your home. Here are five questions to consider.

* Is there a market for your product or service? Just because your co-workers or relatives rave about your new business idea, don’t assume that everyone shares their enthusiasm. If you really expect the business to thrive, cast a skeptical eye on your potential product or service. Investigate the market, both locally and outside your geographic region, and ask whether people will pay their hard-earned money to buy your stuff.

* Are you excited about the business idea? To be successful, you’ll need to dedicate yourself to the business day in and day out. If, deep down, you aren’t enthusiastic about the firm’s product or service, you may find it difficult to weather the storms that confront every business.

* Is it a good fit? If you don’t like working with the public, a retail business probably doesn’t make sense for you. Or perhaps your home-based business will require hours in front of a computer. If your forte is face-to-face interaction with people, you may need to rethink your strategy.

* How will you allocate time for the business? For many people, a home-based business begins as a part-time venture. Do you have the discipline to stick to a work schedule after hours?

* How will you finance start-up costs? As a general rule, you should have funds set aside to cover at least six months of operating expenses before opening the doors to your new venture. Without an adequate financial buffer, you may spend many unproductive hours just trying to keep the business afloat.

For those willing to take the plunge, a home-based business can provide great satisfaction. But as with any business venture, it pays to do your homework.

About Brenda J. McGivern, CPA

Brenda McGivern started her own certified public accounting and management consulting firm in October 2001. The full service CPA firm provides tax and accounting solutions to meet the needs of today’s small business and individual. Brenda McGivern has become a trusted advisor and valuable resource her clients rely on for timely, accurate assistance when they need it.

Before starting the firm, she worked as an accountant for three years at a local firm and prior to that five years at a large international CPA firm in Boston. She has performed the following tax services: federal, state and local tax planning, international tax planning, estate and succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, capital retention and IRS representation. She has also coordinated assurance engagements, such as financial statement audits, reviews and compilations from the planning phase through the reporting phase. She has prepared and reviewed regulatory filings for numerous regulatory agencies including the Security and Exchange Commission.

Prior to these positions she was selected from over 2,000 candidates into an eight-person intensive financial management program at an international technology company. The program consisted of graduate level classroom study and two six-month rotational assignments in financial operations.

She graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. McGivern also holds a license in Massachusetts as a Certified Public Accountant and is a member of the American Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants. She resides in Stoughton, Massachusetts with her husband Brian, and their sons Sean, Ryan and Conor and their dog, Davis.

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