Did you know that, on the Web, 70% of home based businesses fail in the first eight months? For those of us who would like to start a work at home internet business — maybe even work at home — thats a very discouraging survey.

Does that mean that your business vision is doomed to unsuccessful? Far from it! Here are steps you can take that greatly multiply your chances of success. With a small time and a little serious study you can hit the ground running. Lets start from the beginnings

The bright idea

To start, defiantly, you need to come up with a vision. Typically, work at home business opportunities can be divided into four groups:

1. Offering an existing product/service in an existing market.
2. Presenting an existing product/service to a new market.
3. Offering a new product/service in an existing market
4. Introducing a new product/service to a new market.

At this stage of the game the only limit is your imagination. Inspiration can come from anywhere — maybe you have a hobby that youd like to turn into a full-time job; you possibly will be on the receiving end of bad service one day and decide to try doing it better yourself; or you could have a talent that youd like to capitalize on.

Once youve come across something that youd like to do, its time to take a look at the market and see whats on offer.

Passing the test

So youve had a awful plan and youre eager to roll with it; now its time to put it through its paces. For the purpose of the exercise, lets say that you have a passion for healthy living, and that you want to distribute a range of lifestyle accessories that promote healthy living with a do-it-yourself approach.

Ask around: Is there a market for products that promote healthy living? What sorts of products are existing? Who would you be competing with and what do your competitors offer? Do you have the required skills to run such a small business and — more to the point — what would those skills be? Where would your business be located?

Once youve answered those questions you should have a fairly clear picture of what your business will look like.

You source various products and decide to do some broaden study into the range of lifestyle products offered by a company called Vitality 4 Life. Your own life experience plus some work youve completed as a dietician has given you the essential skill sets, and you think that youll be able to work at home, giving you extra time for family. There is an existing marketplace, but threes room for growth. Now its time to take a closer look.

To be or not to be

Its time to get down to the nuts and bolts. You dont want to skip into something feet first and find out the difficult way that the budget just doesnt work.

To get started, sit down and work out if you need to hire staff, which means paying wages.

If you lease a premises youll need to be able to pay the rent, and your location will have to be suitable for your business and target bazaar (which also means that youll have to think carefully about just what that target market is). Youll also need to work out the likely demand for your product/service.

O.k. youve worked out that there is sufficient demand for fine quality juicers, sprinters, water filters and other superior end accessories to take a shot at a distributorship as a work at home business opportunity. Now you need to make some marketing decisions.

Look at me! Look at me!

Advertising can be costly so youll want to be sure that your advertising budget is spent wisely. That means more market research, this time one-on-one. Profile your customer groups so you can aim your marketing at the right group/s of people.

Draw up a questionnaire (a short questionnaire — people run out patience if you ramble for too long) and hang around outside a few of the local gyms (for our particular example). Come up with a mixture of open questions (What do you think of..?) and closed questions (Do you have a gym membership? Yes/No.); sliding scales can be useful too.

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