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I am self-employed. I have a retail web site on the web and absolutely love it because my life is totally in balance. This is my third year and I have been profitable (although very small) from the get-go; mostly from choosing not to spend on anything until I absolutely had to. For example, I was willing to put up with the snail-pace of windows 98 and a dial-up line for the first year and I found a web host that was free. I just felt that there was no sense spending money until I was 100% sure that my idea would work.

As I said, my life is in balance. Orders are emailed to me and I pack them while my kids are at school. If I'm backlogged, which happens twice a week, I work when my husband gets home and he helps me out.

My advise is don't get started before the kids are in school full time (kindergarten is half days here and that was a bit stressful - what can you accomplish in 3 hours when you're a startup?). Now is a great time to do research though. Two years before I took the plunge I set up a business name, got a resale permit and started attending tradeshows and researching the web for competition. This is all very fun - a little bit of much need travel and shopping!

She has been doing rubber-stamping, making jewelry, and other crafty things and thinking about the possibility of turning that into a small business.

This was exactly me...not the rubber-stamping and jewelry making, but taking something you really enjoy doing in your free time and turning it into a small business. I encourage you to see what's already being done out there. Look on eBay and the web. It doesn't have to be something that's never been done before. You just have to fill a niche.

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