Five Jobs That Let You Be Your Own Boss

By Christina Couch, ClassesUSA

Thinking of moving from the corner office to the home office? Approach with caution, says Barbara Weltman, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting a Home-based Business" (Third Edition). From building a clientele base and deciphering individual health insurance to creating (and sticking to) a regular schedule, home-based entrepreneurs face a wide array of challenges those chained to a cubicle can easily avoid.

So before taking the entrepreneurial plunge, check out some of the top home-based businesses and learn how education can put you – and keep you – in the entrepreneurial driver's seat.

Graphic/Web Designer:
Technologically savvy folks looking for creative freedom will be happy to know that one out of every four Web designers find the autonomy they're craving by working for themselves, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One of the easier fields to transition into a home-based business, Web design firms require little more than a phone line, computer and professional contacts. Though 75 percent of the industry still works for "the man," Web designers armed with an associate or bachelor's degree can frequently pick up freelance work on the side, giving them the ability to build a network of clients before shifting into being their own boss.

EBay Entrepreneur:
No space? No problem, say the 1.3 million people who use eBay as their source of income. A $45 billion-plus-per-year business, eBay generates more than $2,000 in sales per second. Whether your passion is daybeds or dog sweaters, the estimated 600,000-plus eBay PowerSellers rake in between $1,000 and $150,000 per month without ever leaving home. Instead of battling to make a local name, eBay entrepreneurs have instant access to the site's 276 million users spanning 39 global markets, giving anyone with an Internet connection and a knack for writing product descriptions a low-cost way to tap into buyers across the globe. While there's no official eBay major, many eBay entrepreneurs bone up on their business skills through marketing, finance and accounting courses through their local community college or Chamber of Commerce.

Financial Consultant:
"People who are consultants are ideal candidates for having a home-based business because they can conduct work from anywhere," says Weltman. She adds that businesses such as consulting – those that are based on providing expertise rather than a physical product – work well for entrepreneurs looking to escape the common cubicle. An estimated 35 percent of those in the management, business or financial sector are home-based CEOs. Though financial consultants hail from a wide array of educational backgrounds, the BLS reports that the majority hold bachelor's degrees in a business-related field and many hold a master's in accounting or finance as well.

Interior Designer:
"For a residential interior designer, a home-based business works fine because it has nothing to do with where you actually run your business from," reports Suzanne Davis, president of the Richmond, Va.-based firm I Design Interiors, Inc. "Everything important happens in the client's home." Requiring little more than a bachelor's or specialized degree in interior design to get started, interior designers (26 percent of whom the BLS reports are self-employed, frequently from their own homes) say that working in a residential environment can be more inspiring than staying in a cubicle. "Homes are my job, so it makes sense to work from one," Davis says.

Phone line: check. Internet access: check. Vehicle for making sales calls: check. For Cathy Koch, president of the Pleasant Ridge, Mich.-based industrial temperature control systems distribution firm K-Tec Systems, Inc. that's all the equipment she needs to generate $800,000 in annual sales.

"When a customer places an order with us, we buy what we need from the factory and ship it directly," Koch explains. "I can do this from my home because I can order exactly what I sell."

Like many sales-based businesses, Koch's firm works because little on-site stocking is required and, thanks to modern technology, Koch can take orders from anywhere. "Servicewise, there's no difference between working with me and working with a large company," Koch comments. "None of my clients know that we're based from home."

Though educational requirements for salespeople vary tremendously from industry to industry, those looking to jump into sales can get started with general business classes at either the community or four-year college level.

No matter what type of business you launch, Giovanni Carotolo, executive director for the small and mid-market business councils for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says that all future home CEOs need to consider the space requirements, zoning laws and number of employees they'll need to manage. "Write a reasonable business plan and do some research on whether this business is feasible," Carotolo recommends. "Not having basic business management skills is the reason many [home CEOs] fail."

Copyright 2008 ClassesUSA. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.

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