A Sideline Business: Your Ace in the Hole

Twelve tips for starting a sideline business in your home.

| June/July 1994

Once upon a time, hard work, dedication to the company, and/or a strong union guaranteed your job for life. Today, it's far more prudent to assume that sooner or later, you and your job will part company (if you haven't already).

When that occurs, will you feel victimized, depressed, and desperate? Or will you be ready to seize the opportunity for a great new beginning? Your choice. It is my firm belief — and long-term experience — that developing and maintaining a teeny, tiny sideline business of your own, what I call an Ace in the Hole, is the best investment you can make for your future.

You don't need to burn any bridges, mortgage the farm, quit your job, hire attorneys and accountants — or even necessarily invent a better mousetrap. You just need to pick a reasonable path, take a few well-calculated, very low-risk steps, and let your Ace grow slowly. Along the way, you'll get two bonuses: extra income and more tax deductions.

So why isn't there a business booming on every kitchen table? Despite America's reputation as The Land of Opportunity, you probably believe that starting a business is costly, risky, and regulated, and that you'd be nuts to try. Nonsense! Allow me to demystify the process:

1. Start now.  

Begin by simply giving the possibility of creating an Ace in the Hole some serious consideration. My friend Al Lococo always dreamed of retiring into his own business and gave the notion a lot of thought. Eventually, Al came to believe that he really could be his own boss. So, about 18 months ago, he decided to retain his job but moonlight in a small computer business. Al filed his chosen business name at the county courthouse, opened a business checking account, registered with the state sales tax people, and converted one room of his house into a workshop/office. His total investment was "pocket change," but Al's Ace was in place, and public.

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