By Audrey Okaneko
If you want to work at home, step one is understanding the options available to you.
Let's start with some basics. There are only TWO things you can do at home, yes, only TWO.
You can telecommute or you can run a business. That's it, TWO.
Telecommuting - This means you have been hired by an employer, and that employer is open to having you work at home anywhere from a few hours a week, to full time. Some folks will work mornings in office, afternoons at home. Afternoons at home, allows them to pick up their kids, start dinner etc, all while working also. Some folks work every other day in office. This allows them bring work in, drop work off, be available for meetings etc.
You are an employee. You are either paid per hour or per week.
The sentence I see most often posted is "I want to work at home, so I have more time with my kids". Find some folks who do telecommute. Their kids are in daycare, as they need to work. They also end up putting in more than 40 hours per week as they want to make sure they put in their 40 hours and make up for those trips to the store, the trips to pick kids up etc.
Telecommute positions are very tough to find. Most employers are not willing to have employees working unsupervised. Reason is, just look in office. Truly, how many employees give a job their all? How many work hard even when the boss is away? How many come in a few minutes early and leave a few minutes late on a consistent basis? Now let's compare that to how many make personal calls? How many take a few extra minutes on their lunch? How many stand around the water machine chatting? How many day dream and don't produce as much as they can/should? So, most employers are not willing to allow employees to work at home.
Again, speak to some folks who work at home. Ask them point blank what they did to get this job. Most will tell you that they had worked for a long time prior to this arrangement. They will tell you that they know their job inside out. They will tell you that they work over 40 hours per week. They will tell you that they do get "lonely" working all alone. And they'll tell you they do go into the office frequently.
There is no book of companies that allow telecommuting. I've seen many many ads for folks to buy a book that is supposed to contain the names of companies that allow telecommuting. Those employers who have allowed telecommuting, have done so with an existing employee. My sister telecommutes for HP. But she had her degree in computer science. She has had tons of company training and she worked there 10 years. So putting HP down in a book and telling you that they hire telecommuters is misleading at best, an out and out lie at worst. And you have to pay for that book.
A business - To start there are only TWO things you can sell. You can sell a product or you can sell a service. Look around YOUR town. What do the businesses in YOUR town sell? They all sell either a product or a service. A home business will be no different, you'll sell a product or a service. If you want to sell a service, look within. What are your skills? Are you proficient with a word processor? If so, you can consider selling your word processing skills. Remember, proficient means near perfect. I can use MS Word, but I could not sell it as a service.
Have you done bookkeeping or billing before? If so, this again, is something you can sell as a service. Are your kids older, in school all day? Consider an errand service. Heck, there are many days I feel I live in my car LOL. I always have books with me as I'm forever waiting for someone or something. Do a web search for errand services and view what others are offering and at what fees.
Are you an expert with a sewing machine? If so, offer tailoring and mending as a service. I am only 5'2" and both my kids are 5'. We need everything altered. I would love to bring it to someone's home versus having to go to the dry cleaner, change in their icky little bathroom etc.
Prefer to sell a product? You have a few choices, yes, only a few. You can make the product yourself. You can purchase from a wholesaler, or you can purchase from a direct sales company. That's it, only those few choices.
If you wish to make the products, again, look within. What hobbies do you have? What crafts can you make? Some folks sell hand sewn or hand crocheted items. Some sell homemade soaps and lotions. Some sell homemade jewelry. Are you able to do this?
You can contract with a wholesaler. Look up ________ wholesaler in a search engine. The blank is for whatever product you want to sell. There are wholesalers for just about everything imaginable. Want to contract with a direct sales company? Go to www.dsa.org They have a large database of their members. Their members range from cosmetic companies, to toy companies, to clothing companies and everything in between. You don't need to pay to access this database.
Now for some scams. Home assembly is a scam. There are exceptions. Occasionally a factory that makes items will advertise for local employees. You'll go to the factory, fill out the application, meet with them, and get hired. There will NOT be a fee. You'll drop off and pick up finished products. Assembly at home jobs found on the internet are SCAMS. Don't believe me? Find me just two people who do this and make money. Just two. From anywhere in the US. Just two ;)
Transcribing and medical billing are the next areas where the scam artists prey. These are both legitimate professions, however in order to be hired you must have education. The courses offered online may or may not be legitimate. What I can tell is they DO NOT find you jobs. What they do is send you listings from the yellow pages of your city, with doctors names and phone numbers for you to call. If you have a personal doctor, contact him/her. Ask for a consultation. Even if it's $100 for the consultation, that's $500 less than the software you might be considering buying. Ask your doctor about his/her medical billing. Do they use someone at home? Would they hire someone who had never worked in office before? See what YOUR doctor tells you. If this is a career you want to pursue, contact your local junior college, local trade college or local business college.
The final scams I want to mention are the process orders, and data entry at home. All those ads for mail from home, order process from home etc are all a variation of the same scam. You pay money. You get directions to place ads like the one you answered. You then receive a percent each time you scam the next person. You TYPE or PROCESS their ORDER. Nice play on words huh? If in fact, typing at home, assembly at home, processing orders at home were legitimate, don't you think we'd read more about folks doing this successfully?
So, while you do have many options of what to offer to others, there are also many scams out there waiting to take your money.
Audrey Okaneko has worked at home since 1983. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visited at www.scrapping-made-simple.com