Many home-based businesses can be run entirely from a computer with an Internet connection. With a little skill and well-placed marketing, you can turn your skills into full-fledged moneymakers. In fact, your business does not even need to be specifically related to computers. With the right kind of knowledge, you can turn your brains into bucks. See if any of the following ideas are right for you. If not, see if they give you any other ideas for your small business.

eBay

This stalwart of the Internet has carved out a massive chunk of the eBusiness market. By allowing people to post items for bid to the masses, they have made turned themselves into a marketing machine. You can post just about anything on this web site and, more often than not, you will find a taker.

If you are a collector of almost anything, you can put your knowledge and resources to work. You can sell that pile of Beanie Babies, or those boxes full of Depression glass for a nice little profit. If you do not want to part with your prized collection, then it is time to hit the flea markets, garage sales, and antique malls. If you are familiar with the merchandise, then you can start buying bargains and selling at higher prices right away.

If you are not sure whether or not that rolltop desk or that comic book is really worth anything, then it is time to do research. There are plenty of blue books on every topic out there. Grab one and study your chosen market. Look through the books and try to find the best, most valuable merchandise so that you have a place to start on your next shopping trip. Keep reading the books until you have a very good idea of just what things are worth. You need to know your field like you know how to tie your shoelaces. That way, you will be able to find the bargains that will bring you profit.

Before pricing your goods, however, you must also make a point to understand eBay's fee structure. It is a bit complex for the new user, but it is in your best interest to know it inside and out. If you make a $5 profit on an item, but spend $8 in commissions, you have not really bettered yourself, have you? Be sure that your prices and minimum bids will leave you in the black once the figurative gavel strikes.

Computer Consulting

You know how to program. People and companies need things programmed. I think you can see the connection.

If you know languages such as C++, Visual Basic, or Perl, you are a very valuable commodity. These languages are in demand throughout the world by people who don't need full-time staff. You are an experienced, knowledgeable programmer who has spent years slogging through a million or two lines of code in between checking the market to see how much of your 401K has evaporated today. Instead of investing more money in a volatile stock market, invest time in yourself by starting a small business.

Use those hard-won skills to create the software the people need but don't know how to make themselves. Advertise in the newspaper and the yellow pages. Send out some direct mail to local small businesses. Use a few of your connections to find people who need work done. If you do not have certifications, get some. There is nothing like a piece of paper that says to the world that you know computers. It carries a lot of weight, especially with corporations.

Also, there are a myriad of web sites out there that connect aspiring consultants to projects. Perform a few searches and find those sites. Many of them allow a free sign-up, then charge a commission off the top of your sale. Others require a fee to start, then either charge either no commission or a much lower one than the free sites. Your best bet is to cut your teeth on the free sites and then, if you are feeling confident, move onto the subscription sites. Just be sure to complete your projects right and on time in order to keep your rating high.

Word Processing

If you are a skilled typist who makes no errors and can format letters and proposals, you can create your own at-home word processing business.

Companies, small businesses, and individuals often need work done that is professional, attractive, and free of errors. If you can pound out some serious words per minute, hire out your flying fingers to others who need help. As well, high school and university students often do not type very well. So give them the opportunity to be graded on their work, not just their typing skills.

Web Site Design

Though related to computer programming, web site design is more of a graphic art than anything. The proper placement and size of windows, frames, and fields requires the eye of an artist. Not to mention proper color schemes, banner and logo design, and proper fonts and font sizes. This is an exacting, artistic discipline. However, it is a discipline that can be mastered with a lot of research and a little learning. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then start a home-based business providing this very service.

Writing HTML is not so much programming as it is formatting text with computer code. With just a little research -- there are plenty of web sites that provide tutorials -- you can learn HTML in a day or two. Once you have mastered it, you can help yourself and your small business by studying the designs of other web sites. Examine the HTML code and figure out how they are formatting their pages "just so".

Also, it would be a good idea to pick up a few web-programming languages through online tutorials or books from the library. PHP and ASP provide powerful functionality to web sites and are starting to become very popular. JavaScript is often used to format pages and provide functionality to the visitors. Also, Java is a powerful language that allows you to run programs in remote windows. By learning how to program in one or two of these languages, you can get a leg up on the competition.

Once you decide to start a web site design firm, remember that you need to put up a web site! Make it the best web site you can possibly design and always try to improve it. You do not necessarily need to show off all your skills, but a good, clean, attractive site is the best advertisement your small business can get.

What next?

Computer and Internet businesses are a growing segment of the marketplace. Position yourself in this growing field and allow your knowledge and skills to work for you. You don't need a fancy office or a storefront; you simply need a computer, an Internet connection, and the willingness to keep learning, keep striving, and make your home-based Internet business work.

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