Do Your Homework (Literally!)

In today’s economic environment, there are good reasons to wonder about the feasibility of working from home.  And we’re not talking telecommuting, here – we’re talking about self-employment.

 It doesn’t have to be all about Hard Times.  Perhaps you’re just ready to do what you love, all the time – like the local woman who enjoys painting, and has converted her joy into a job converting former wine-bottles into hand-painted containers for oil, vinegar, soap or lotion, which are now being sold at craft festivals around the area. It’s her full-time employment.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau  she is one of the “nonemployer businesses” that saw an increase of 4.5 percent between 2006 and 2007 for a total of 21.7 million people.  Of those, 19.1 million were sole proprietorships – the self-employed.

 You might wonder what you could do from home, or where to begin. Could a hobby actually support you? Perhaps you have an aptitude in one area, maybe you worked in human resources – have you thought about helping others with their resumes?  Or you’re tech-savvy, good with web tools?  Maybe website development, computer consulting or programming is up your alley.  

 If you need more ideas, explore the U.S. Census’ “Nonemployer Statistics” to see what others are doing, explore some of the ideas presented in a number of books on the topic, and take a look at the Small Business Administration (SBA), especially its Small Business Planner that provides a number of online resources.

 Here at the Library of Congress, within the stacks in the Science & Business Reading Room in the Adams building, there are a number of publications providing practical information on businesses you can do from home.  There are tips for setting up your home office, assessments to help determine your readiness for a home-based business, and examples of what others have done.  Some books provide ideas and “how-to” steps.  To identify these books, try a catalog subject search for “home-based businesses” and explore the possibilities.  (Librarian tip: sort the list in descending order to see the most recent publications for this subject.)  If you would like to consult any of these books here at the Library, please contact a reference librarian, easily reachable through the Ask a Librarian service.

Thanks to Business Reference Specialist Donna Scanlon of the Science, Technology & Business Division for this post!

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