Thursday, September 20, 2007

Not Your Regular Home Business

Last year, Dave Novak sold $1.2 million of luxury steam-shower and bath equipment, importing wares from China and reselling systems for $2,500 to $4,000 apiece under his own brands, like American Steam and Rockstar.

And he did it from his 20-month-old son’s bedroom in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Novak, 27, runs Novak & Co. LLC from home using a MacBook Pro computer and iPhone — leveraging Internet-based tools that make the need for traditional office space increasingly obsolete for many entrepreneurs.

“Most people don’t know I’m based at home,” he says. “There are so many tools out there now that offer a whole other way to live, and I don’t think people understand how great it is.”

If the Internet has been the great equalizer for small businesses, it is particularly evident right now in the home-based business realm — where new online tools from Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc., Microsoft Corp., eBay Inc. and others are making it easier and cheaper to network employees, sell goods and manage office accounting functions in ways that previously required office space, technical staff, and expensive investment in servers and software.

While businesses of any size can use the online tools, the potential appeal to small and particularly home-based businesses is ripe due to their low cost of entry and ease of use. Most of the services can be accessed from any computer or mobile device with Internet access.

Four Cool Things You Can Get Free From Online Sweepstakes

What do people think when they see you driving a Lexus?

How To Make Money With Photostamps