Wednesday, August 02, 2006


The million-dollar question that confronts every would-be entrepreneur is: What kind of business can I start? Here are the top ten ways to earn huge income while working at home.
by Isabel M. IsidroPowerHomeBiz Editor

You do not have to read many success stories before you start wishing you could work for yourself. The opportunity to be your own boss and the potential for high income are enough to entice us to venture on our own. But what can you do? What kind of business would you be suitable to start? We have compiled the top 10 ways to earn money at home, enough to be a full-time self-employed businessperson!

1. Antiques
The buying and selling of antiques has been and should continue to be a very productive business, financially, for those that do it. Here, you only need an extra room in the house, or the use of your garage -- and you have an office!
If you have a large home that has some antique furnishings, you might consider turning it into a showroom for your antique acquisitions and sales, providing you satisfy any local zoning regulations. The interest in antiques will survive into the foreseeable future. Many people choose to spend their free time on the weekends "antiquating" from place to place to try and pick up a few odds or ends and maybe a jewel or two. If you know anything about antiques, this may be a great opportunity for you.

2. Baking
Have you ever been told that you have a recipe that people would line up to get if they could? Ever had anyone tell you that you should be selling those cupcakes you make?
There are a number of success stories about people who have launched successful businesses by cooking at home and then marketing to local people first. You may specialize in on just one well-tried and tested food product; or you may innovate on a product that you created yourself and which has never been marketed before. Having perfected the recipe you then turn to packaging and marketing. Word of mouth on a good product may start to get restaurants or bakeries interested in acquiring your culinary masterpieces. Then you progress to selling them statewide and you're on your way to a profitable home-based business.

3. Bed-and-Breakfast Proprietors
Have you ever stayed in a bed and breakfast and thought, "Hey, I can do this!" You probably went on vacation and simply chalked your thought up as one of those pipedreams one gets when they stay in a beautiful spot.
Don't toss that thought away! While it's not easy work as the hours can be long and it's usually a seven days per week business, it's often something that you can work into a daily schedule. After all, it's merely an extension of doing the housework for family, right? More and more Americans are taking after Europeans and opening their homes to travelers.
If you have an extra room or two since the kids moved out, you can start a bed and breakfast in your own place! Bed and breakfast popularity will continue as more and more vacationers and business travelers seek a different accommodation away from the predictability of the average hotel room. If they enjoy their stay, many become "repeat" customers, coming back to the same familiar surroundings time and again.
If you don't need to do any major renovations in the house to accommodate this type of establishment, you can be off and running with very little money invested, other than advertising and some new "guest room supplies". If your dream is to buy a bed and breakfast somewhere in a vacation paradise, there are probably houses for sale that will work for this purpose.

4. Childcare
Due to the financial pressures faced by many families today, parents work outside of the home to bring in enough income to pay daily living expenses. A single parent is obviously working but all too often, both members of a two-parent family are in the workforce. This creates a home-based opportunity. Children must be watched, all day if they're not in school, or, otherwise, for a brief time after school before the parents finish work for the day. Most parents want their children immersed in a more stimulating environment than is usual with the average babysitter. You can begin small at home, offering a more stimulating and educational environment setting for client children.
Caring for one additional child may not be that lucrative, but taking care of several children can certainly be a full-time, financially successful business. Often, taking care of several children is made somewhat easier as the youngsters often will play together. You can do this at home for only a small investment in basic equipment and toys for the kids in addition to the advertising of your business.

5. Computer Specialist
The advent of the computer age has changed the concept of self-employment. Having a computer at home has opened a number of opportunities for running your own business utilizing this equipment. Companies everywhere are "outsourcing" work that can be done by someone else on their computer, out of their own home.
If you are a whiz in computers, you may end up working as a consultant, writing programs for companies. If you are a beginner, you may find yourself able to obtain work as a writer, using your computer to produce copy that is easy to edit. You can also keep accounting and payroll records for companies on your computer's database.
Word processing software can be used not only for writers but for those that can offer secretarial services out of their house. Desktop publishing software can allow you to do newsletters for businesses and other organizations. If you can operate a computer, you can find work in the information age today.
Of course, the advent of the Web has opened a lot of business opportunities for the enterprising individuals. If you have skills in lay-outing and graphic design, you can be a website designer. Website designers earn significant amounts of money nowadays.

6. Gardening
If you like working in your garden each year , it's a definite possibility for home-based employment. Imagine clearing a little more space and growing more items that you can sell directly to the consumer. You can produce vegetables, bedding plants, bonzai tree, exotic plants, flower trees, herb, house plants, landscaping plants, orchids and many more.
Most produce stands will buy from you if your product is one of high quality. If you enjoy gardening, this could be your ticket! If you have some more land to use, do it! Plant what you can, when you can! Contact your local produce stands to ascertain their buying habits.
You can even inquire about your own produce stand if you have enough product. The more space you have on your land, the more likely you will be able to generate enough crops to run the business. People love homegrown vegetables. They just do not have the time or want to be bothered doing it themselves. That is your open door!
You can also engage in selling other gardening products and supplies such as compost, earthworms, herb boxes, beneficial bugs, or drip irrigation systems.

7. Importer and Distributor
There are a substantial number of products manufactured in other countries that can be bought inexpensively and sold in your country at a profitable level. The Government and the formation of international trade organizations have made it easier to bring in other products from other countries.
This is a business easily operated out of the home, depending on the types of stock you're carrying. You may have to rent some storage space, but the capital required to start should essentially be limited to the products you're buying to sell here.
If you know the type of product you want to import and the market most likely to purchase your goods, you have great potential for a successful home-based business.

8. Interior Decorator
Interior decorating is a business that will require you to be mobile, constantly meeting with customers. It offers flexible hours, a good variety of activities, and a very lucrative return. If you have a fascination for decorating a home, this could be your line of work. Many people do not know where to start when they are remodeling or buying a house for the first time.
If you have the knowledge of colors and patterns and what looks good together, plus the expertise of knowing where to get materials and furnishings, this can be a winning home-based business for you. To be able to decorate a room so that it conveys the mood that the homeowner wishes will be your goal. Strive for the skillful, personal touch in all you design.

9. Photographer
The sky is the limit here! Armed with your trusty camera and some good advertising, you can do weddings, models, family portraits, passports, student photos, local newspaper coverage; almost anything that requires a picture!
You can easily start this work, part-time, and work into full-time work based on your success and inclination. Not much equipment is necessary to get going as a camera off the store shelf can often do the trick today. Picking up a tripod and having a room sufficient for developing your pictures, and you're in business -- at home!

10. Sewing and Alterations
Many people love to sew. If you are one of them, consider offering this service out of your home. When someone buys a new outfit, it rarely fits perfectly, meaning some kind of alteration must be done.
People look long and hard to find reliable individuals to do their alterations. If you can sew, you are well on your way to opening the doors of this type of business.

Monday, July 31, 2006


Make Money in Any Market
By Chuck Saletta July 31, 2006

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article stated that the share price of Cablevision Systems declined sharply over the past year. Cablevision paid a special $10 dividend in April 2006, which was not accounted for. We regret the error.
If you've been paying any attention to the stock market recently, the term "roller coaster" probably comes to mind. The frantic up and down motion of the market provides thrills, spills, and the occasional upset stomach. Unfortunately, the downward plunges in your investment portfolio aren't nearly as much fun as the exhilarating drops on a real roller coaster.
As an investor, those wild swings present a dilemma. You have to be invested to take advantage of the long-term, generally upward movement in the market. Yet money in stocks is at risk, and there's nothing really protecting you from the inevitable slides. And stock drops can happen to any business, not just the tiny firms where extreme volatility is expected. Just look how far even some big companies have fallen in the past year:

Because of that tremendous potential for loss, a good rule to follow is don't invest money you'll need in the next few years in stocks. But if you're like most of us, it's a challenge to save enough to invest at all, much less enough to have a targeted plan with specific, appropriate assets earmarked for each goal.
Cheat the systemRelying on generating enough cash from selling your stocks to cover your needs is a dangerous game to play. After all, when push comes to shove, you could get caught short if you're forced to sell when your stocks are down. There is, however, a way to get cash from your stocks without the risk of having to sell in a down market. That is, you can have your cake and eat it too. If you buy stocks with solid, sustainable, and rising dividends, you can take advantage of the long-term appreciation of stocks, while receiving cash to do with as you please. That is the fundamental premise behind Foolish colleague Mathew Emmert's investment philosophy for Motley Fool Income Investor.
Sure, dividends are not guaranteed payments. But even without a guarantee, companies that pay regular dividends will rarely cut them unless their situation becomes dire. That's because corporate boards know that dividends send strong signals about the true strength of the company. Precisely because dividends are neither guaranteed nor required, a rational company won't initiate one until it believes it has the financial strength to maintain it.
Why dividends ruleThat seemingly simple act of authorizing a few cents distributed to the holder of each share hides a very complicated calculation. Unlike bonds or preferred shares, which are little more than tools for raising money, common shares actually represent an ownership stake in a business. The owners are last in line for any money the business generates. After all, the employees must be paid, the tax collector requires his share, the company's suppliers won't deliver for free, and the bondholders and preferred stock holders take priority over the owners.
It's largely because of the tremendous hurdles that a company must clear in order to be able to pay dividends that the signals they send are so strong. A company that declares a dividend essentially announces to the world that it has reached the ranks of the financially mature. It's quite an embarrassment, and one that often comes with a stock price drop, to later admit otherwise with a dividend cut.
Take, for instance, struggling automobile titan General Motors. The company faced the following financial crises before finally cutting its dividend:
Negative operating cash flow in 2003
Money-losing automobile operations in 2004
A $10.6 billion net loss in 2005
Yet the company didn't cut its dividend until its first 2006 payment. That's at least three years of struggling operations and clear clues that the dividend could be in serious jeopardy before the company finally admitted that it needed to cut its payment to conserve cash.
Finding the right signalsIf companies will go to great lengths to protect their dividends, then the smart ones will do their best to set those reasonable payments. By reasonable, I mean the dividends are:
Easily covered by the company's operating cash flow
Increased in line with the company's long-term growth
Low enough to allow the business to reinvest in sustaining and growing itself
Timed such that the company's cash on hand can make the payment
That timing requirement may seem strange, but consider the case of toy maker Mattel (NYSE: MAT). In 2002, it made the decision to pay its dividend in one lump sum every year -- in December. That makes significant strategic sense. After all, its business is heavily weighted to the end of the year, thanks to the preponderance of toy-friendly holidays. It simply makes sense to pay its owners when it has lots of cash coming in, rather than trying to come up with excess cash every quarter, including those that simply aren't usually that profitable.
Your edgeBy investing in companies that pay sustainable dividends, then watching for signs that they're faltering, you can put yourself in the enviable situation of making money in any market. Take, for instance, Income Investor selection Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW). While its shares are down a bit since being selected for the newsletter in March 2004, it has continued to pay its dividend. In fact, earlier this year, it actually hiked its payment about 12%.
Investors who bought the stock for its stable, reliable dividend have been rewarded not only with the regular cash flow, but with a raise, too. That's what you get when you follow the Income Investor strategy. You sit back and rake in the cash, no matter which way the stock market happens to be moving.