Or my personal favourite: “When do you think you’ll open a proper business?” Ouch! Apparently it’s not a “real” small business until you have a shopfront, are gouged by a landlord on rent, work like a dog to pay wages and overheads, and have a website no one visits. Give me home business any day.
No one has said: “You must be 30–40 per cent more productive because you don’t waste hours commuting to and from work each day, or in unnecessary office meetings.” And I’m yet to hear: “Working from home must slash your costs and substantially reduce capital requirements and risk.”
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It seems some in the “real world’ think all home-based business owners work in their tracksuit pants and sell Tupperware. Or they take their laptop to a café for a quick latte, before a swim at the beach, two-hour gym session, yoga, and extra bonding time with the kids. If only.
As you can tell, I don’t think home-based business owners get enough recognition in Australia. They are rarely mentioned in small business debates or policy initiatives.
What’s your view?
Do you think home-based business owners need more support?
What has been your experience working from home? Has it made you more productive?
Has it made your venture more profitable?
Do you work from home mostly for lifestyle reasons?
Does your employer encourage you to work from home?
Are you suspicious when your colleagues work from home?
There is an annoying perception that all owners chose home-based business for lifestyle reasons. Less time commuting means more time for them, and that is true of some.
Another type of owner, myself included, chooses home-based business because it is more productive and profitable, depending on the industry. It helps make better use of scarce resources. And the work is more enjoyable when your energy is not sapped by corporate backstabbing, and there is more time for the work itself and clients – not fringe things such as staff meetings and silly performance reviews.
I had fancy office space for a while, but hardly went there because of the hour lost in traffic. An impressive office sounded good in theory: in practice, it was overrated.
Having a home business is not for everyone. An entrepreneurial friend moved into an office last month and hired staff because she craved interaction and struggled with the isolation that can affect home-based business owners.
Others move out of home because their business is an industry that requires them to have traditional office space, full-time employees and the like. I found home-based business was problematic in a previous venture with a business partner.
As a corporate manager, I used to be suspicious of staff who worked from home a day each week, always thinking they were more interested in doing a load of washing, than a load of office work. If I had that time over, more staff would be encouraged to work from home, more often. Provided there are systems to measure work quantity and quality, why not let staff work from home if they are more productive and happier as a result?
My home-based business rant is about more than just recognition. This style of business can play a critical role in encouraging and sustaining start-up entrepreneurship. Look at how many great US companies started in their founder’s garage. Home-based business goes hand-in-hand with this emerging concept of “lean entrepreneurship”, or starting ventures with little capital and costs.
Traditional thinking encourages home-based businesses to move into proper office space and “look bigger” once they have certain scale. That needs to be turned on its head. A smarter approach is finding ways to keep growing entrepreneurial ventures without lumbering them with fixed costs.
Consider this: within a decade, the amount of online sales may have doubled or tripled. That will be an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs who start retail ventures that do not need the usual shopfronts, warehouse space, and other fixed costs that crush them in slow markets.
Even more money will be spent on services rather than products, again creating opportunities for home-based business owners who can organise services online, without the need for office space to house workers. More companies will reduce rent costs by encouraging staff to work from home, provided they can manage work quality and potential liability, such as work accidents.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
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