By Noorjehan Arif
When both parents are working, it is difficult to figure out where the children should go and how they should be managed. When one is single, he or she does not have to worry about nagging children, the house falling apart, dirty laundry and what not. In quite a few cases, both men and women decide to have a home setup where they could work, earn money and still keep the house sane.
Home Business Options
There are various opportunities that women, especially of today, can explore to set up a home business: a daycare center, spa or beauty salon, or a boutique. However, there are various other options, which can also be considered:
Catering services – one can run a catering business from home to serve small gatherings and parties, such as business lunches in offices. Unique food combinations like Chinese and Oriental options are appreciated by people nowadays because of their health benefits. Regular options of Biryani and Haleem can also be an alternative. Of course, the service would run as a made-to-order arrangement to avoid waste and the hassle of storing extra food.
Grocery purchase services – due to the growing number of working women nowadays, grocery shopping has becoming a trying chore. To serve the need, one can advertise grocery purchasing services. You can earn commission and enlist the help of your children as well, making it a fun-filled family activity, rather than a business.
Event planning services – if one lives in a metropolitan city, there is always something happening. Even small cities always have weddings, engagements, Nikahs, business dinners and other social events that need to be organized. One can become a specialized business event or wedding planner, or a generalized event planner and organize various aspects of such events. Word of caution though that only the most social and outgoing people can pull this off.
A home-based business is ideal for those busy mothers who have children to look after, a home to cater to and a demanding husband. This kind of a setup, however, has its limitations because people might not take the business seriously and instead, consider it a hobby. There could also be personal interruptions like Ali snatching candy from Sarah or Sarah waking up from a bad dream.
Setting up a Home Office
To avoid mixing home and business, a part time or even a full-time office can be set up in a portion of one’s house. This, of course, depends on the type of business you have decided on. Setting up a separate office requires lots of work and involves obtaining the necessary office furniture, stationery and equipment.
Finding premises in a suitable location can be tough, considering the various options and critical factors to evaluate:
First and foremost is the cost of the location. If the rent space is costly, it may create a cash flow crunch too early in the business, which could prove detrimental to the business. On the other hand, choosing a cheap location might create a negative impression about you and the business setup.
A suitable community is also very important. If you have a problem adjusting to your surrounding environment and community, it will be very difficult to work in such circumstances, and most probably, your business would not flourish.
Another factor is competition. If the surrounding area has similar businesses and offices that are catering to a similar target market, it might become difficult to get established. You might infringe on the rights of others or spend most of your time fighting against the competition to obtain a limited number of customers.
Accessibility is another major factor to evaluate, when choosing a suitable location for the office. If customers will be visiting the office, it is important that it is visible and easy to find.
How did they Start?
Shahnaz runs a boutique that she established with a friend, who was her partner in the business as well. First, she established contacts with various people, who could help her in marketing the clothes and handbags she was making herself. Her partner would get all the material that would be required for the clothes and bags (fabric, beads, threads, etc.)
“At first, there was a nervous energy in both of us, because we were going to establish something of our own that we had to run profitably,” she said. “Then, this feeling turned to exhilaration when we made our first sales. But our target was maintaining healthy cash flows. Of course, a business needs cash coming in more than cash going out. Running on credit can create big problems, and we did not want to do that. After five years in business, we still run on cash and quite profitably.”
Irfana is an enterprising woman, who is currently settled in Australia. She owns an apartment in the posh area of Defence. She started her own beauty parlor ten years ago with the help of her husband and her sister. To start off with her own parlor, she needed to know the basic functions and tricks of the trade. Hence, she took various expensive courses across the city to learn the professional ways of makeup and beauty care. She used her knowledge on her clients and also employed a professional makeup artist for her parlor.
However, one must consider prayers as the only means of achieving success in any endeavor – without Allah (swt) being on our side, nothing has any worth.
Now that we have set up our business and prayed to Allah (swt) for its success, in the next article in this series we shall look into marketing and administrative issues to manage our business successfully, Insha’Allah.
Gleaning Ideas from the Web
The World Wide Web is a wondrous option to search for business ideas, articles and material to help setting up any kind of business. Here are some helpful links:
One of the most helpful sites across the web is http://www.toolkit.com/. It has various links and articles on how to set up a business and help material on managing it.
Another website similar in content is http://www.entrepreneur.com/ with scores of helpful articles and links.
Other helpful sites include: www.2minutecommute.com and www.businessopportunitiesandideas.com. Various business ideas and helpful material can be gleaned from these websites. Of course, one can use Google to search for other options and further help.
Top Home Business Options
- Hair and beauty salon
- Daycare center
- Food catering services
- Grocery purchase services
- Event planning services
- Life coaching services (including tuitions)
- Magazine and article writing
- Interior decoration
- Arts & Crafts
Top Must-Have Office Items
- Business cards
- Cleaning supplies
- Stationery items
- Files, papers and binders
- Filing cabinet
- Internet connection
- Chairs and tables
- Photocopying machine
- Phone and fax line with a fax machine and answering machine
- Computer and printer