I've been a private investigator, specializing primarily in business investigations, for more than 23 years, and it has given me deep insight into the world of business: what works and what doesn't, where the successes might be, and where the problems might be hiding, where people are honest and where they might not be.

Whatever you're going to do, you need to like itHere are a few general guidelines for making informed choices for employment whether you're looking for a new business or a second, supplementary source of livelihood for your family. Just remember, our livelihood comes from G‑d, but it's our "job" not to sit back and wait for monetary miracles, but to make ourselves the proper vessel to receive those blessings.

A Job that Fits

"To each man G‑d made his trade appear nice and respectable"—Talmud, Berachot 43b.

Whatever you're going to do, you need to like it. When they asked you when you were little, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" —That's often the line of work that's right for you!

"One who loves his business, his business loves him"—Talmud.

If it's something you like, you're able to weather the "down" part of the "ups and downs" of the business more easily. Also, when you're enthusiastic about the trade you've chosen, you're more apt to work on improving yourself within that field.

If you can perform a service to the community, you have viable business potential. If you've received rave reviews from neighbors or friends on a simcha you put together, a web site you designed, or a cabinet you built, then people just might want to hire you for your services. As long as you're passionate about what you're offering, you'll attract customers. If you don't have the enthusiasm, you can't expect people to pay you for what you offer.

Note: anything that's mechanical or creative, although the talent may come naturally, when you put it into a business it does require additional discipline.

Choosing between Self-Employment and Working for Someone Else

This choice doesn't apply to every line of work, but it's particularly appealing to the independent type, and it's certainly beneficial in the orthodox world—no need to hassle with Shabbat and holiday observance nor with inappropriate workplace behavior. Just remember, if you choose to be on your own, it's generally better to work for someone else in your chosen field to gain experience, before flying solo.

Never rush to give up a full time job for some new, currently part time job or ideaAlso, you need to look at the projected income for that field, and think about how this will translate into supporting your family. (Tuitions are far costlier than diapers. As your family grows, so do the bills.)

"It's a wise man who sees the future"—Ethics of the Fathers.

For those blessed with access to a financial backer or a certain amount of savings available for investing in a new business, you may be interested in buying either a franchise, or an established single business. With a franchise, as they say, "it's great to have a friend in the business," but you need to check to see if their particular profit margin in sufficient for your needs. They do have an established reputation, and that's something hard to put a price tag on. As far as a pre-existing business goes, it can also have an established track record, albeit locally, as opposed to nationally. The major issue to investigate is the reason why this person is selling this business. If the owner or broker insists that the business is great, but that there's an illness in the owner's family, was it the business that made him sick? Also, you must beware of shifting demographics, i.e. are there any superstores moving into the neighborhood, or is the make-up of the neighborhood residents changing, etc. It's important to hire an expert, an independent consultant, to help you evaluate the specific choices you have in mind.

Never rush to give up a full time job for some new, currently part time job or idea. You have to wait until you see a real income, some type of momentum building up, before leaving something reliable. Even if your reliable, steady income is not so great, you've got to see how this new occupation flows through different seasons, different types of competition, possible pitfalls of fraud, loss of contacts, etc. It's always a leap, but you've got to look first.

Supplemental Income

If you're looking for supplemental income – either for a stay-at-home mother to add some income to the family by working from the home, or for anyone to do after his or her regular job – e-bay, among other internet-based sales opportunities is an unbelievable opportunity for anyone who has any inclination towards working in sales. It has allowed many part-timers unlimited opportunity for working from home, with little or no overhead.

You can be right up there with "the big guys" You can be right up there with "the big guys" on many types of auctions. You don't need to keep merchandise in stock or hire employees and there are no restrictions on hours, either by amount or by schedule.

"The Holy One, blessed be He, loves the man who practices a trade"—Midrash Rabbah Genesis 74.

Additionally, as a graphologist, who gives advice on parnassah, personal growth, shalom bayis, (I've done over 10,000 handwritings, including over 2 years of doing handwriting on the radio, 5 nights a week on WNSR AM, in the greater NY metropolitan area) I can see, personality-wise, what's viable for today's economic situation, with a specialty on what works for the Jewish/observant population.