2009 Money moves: Start a side business

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Remember all those great business ideas you once wished you had time to pursue? Well, many of us now have the time, and while, sure, the economy sucks, a good idea diligently pursued can still succeed. Perhaps now is the right time to begin a side business, to pad your take-home pay and cushion you against a sudden job loss.

Many people succeed by discovering an unfulfilled niche. Among those that have caught my eye recently are --

However, a new idea isn't essential. Many tried and true businesses such as house cleaning, maintenance, dog walking, pet sitting, tutoring, and secretarial services, can be started on a shoestring. Such businesses also allow you to keep the time commitment under control. A common mistake many make is to launch a side business that requires a great time commitment well in advance of anticipated earnings (such as a storefront operation). Those people end up working twice as many hours a week for no more money. Ouch!

Make no mistake, though; a side business requires a great deal of energy. Since most people can find more energy when working on things they find interesting, look first to your passions. Is there a way for fishermen to make some money in the angling business? Knitters in the yard trade? Bakers in the wedding cake field?

Working on something you are passionate about has a second advantage; you probably already have a network that can be indispensable in building your clientele. Most side businesses depend on word of mouth, since paid advertising is a cost hard to recoup.

Who knows? You might find your side business enjoyable and lucrative enough to grow it into your main business. The only downside -- if you don't like your boss, you have no one to blame but yourself.

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