Starting a cottage industry

Do you have an idea you'd like to develop into a product? Meg Hansson, founder of three successful cottage industries, has some practical advice:

* Be objective about your idea. Don't be ''possessed'' by it.

* Be sure you have a product people want. Test your idea.

* If you find your idea is ahead of your market, be brave enough to take risks, but stay hedged. Don't risk everything.

* Learn the financial aspects of the business. Don't forget to charge for your time. Account for overhead. Plan for growth.

* Ask questions. Talk to people knowledgeable in your field.

* Be persistent.

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