Is a home-based business right for you?

The small business sector is a dynamic, innovative, and growing force that provides challenge, self-fulfillment, and financial security to millions of Canadians. Studies show that over 75% of these small businesses have under five employees, and various studies estimate that there are approximately 2.2 – 2.5 million Canadians working from home either on a part-time or full-time basis.

Some of the trends which have encouraged the start-up of home businesses are:

Cocooningpeople preferring to centre their leisure time around their homes to eliminate a lot of outside stresses associated with commuting and working in a structured environment.

Combining roles of career and raising a family – Many parents prefer to raise a family and operate a part-time or full-time business from home at the same time. There are many examples of both spouses operating businesses at home, either the same business or separate businesses.

Growth of the service industry – Many home businesses are ideally suited for this industry. They generally require less start-up capital, have lower ongoing operational expenses, and have minimal equipment cost.

Corporate downsizing – With the recent economic downturn and many large corporations downsizing their payroll and  leased offices and instead sending key employees home to work.

Unemployment – With company layoffs, a newly unemployed sector is giving rise to contracted employment and consulting opportunities.

Computerization. This trend has had a profound impact on home-based businesses over the past several years. Equipment such as fax machines, photocopiers, personal computers, modems, and specialized software is not only smaller and more compact but affordably priced. Cellular phones, voice mail, memory pagers, and answering machines also make it possible to provide accessibility to the business world. A home office can have all the technical sophistication of a traditional business office.

The home business trend is reflected throughout the economy with an increase in the number and variety of goods and services available, such as modular home office furnishings, printers that combine the functions of faxing, scanning and copying, and feature-rich computers and telecom systems.

Though there are many benefits, there are also risks and frustrations. Many people have an idealized picture of the rewards and pleasures of running their own business. It is important to objectively look at both sides of the issue of small business ownership in order to make a realistic decision.

Home-office benefits

Home-based business ownership offers some distinct advantages:

  • Start-up and operating costs are much lower, and therefore the business is easier to get established and less risky.
  • Commuting time and expense are reduced or eliminated.
  • There are more opportunities for your business to grow because of fewer financial constraints. Therefore, you can expect to turn a profit sooner and increase your chances of success.
  • There are tax write-offs that you can take for expenses that you may be already incurring relating to your home.
  • Spouse and family members can be employed by the business.
  • You are working in an atmosphere where commitment to a family and a career can be combined for the benefit of both.

Home-office drawbacks

A word of caution, though:  working from home is not for everyone.  Operating your business from home has some very real disadvantages that are often overlooked at the outset.

  • Frequently cited is the sense of isolation from the companionship of and interaction with colleagues and fellow workers. This alone is a major reason why a home-based business may not succeed. Without the drive and productivity that exists in an office environment, many entrepreneurs lose their sense of focus and motivation.
  • There is a risk of working too hard because of a lack of separation between the work and home environments. There is a risk of high stress, burn-out and sickness.
  • Without having easily accessible support staff to delegate tasks to, there is a tendency to do it all yourself. In this way, you are less effective in your time management and lose focus on doing the work that actually generates revenue for you.
  • Personal or family lifestyle patterns or priorities may be disrupted or may have to be set aside. Rather than bonding the family, it may actually cause increased stress on the relationships. Tensions and frustrations may develop because of work blending into the family relationship.
  • Distractions and disruptions due to the nearness of family or friends may interfere with concentration, which is often the case in young families with pre-school-aged children.
  • Space may be cramped or inappropriate for an ideal work environment or for growth purposes. Thus, your inventory, storage and work area may spill over into your living space.
  • It may be difficult to hire employees, receive customers or deliveries due to limited or inappropriate space, or municipal by-law restrictions.
  • While running a home-based business is not for everyone, there are business solutions that may counteract some of the drawbacks.

Business Solutions

Addressing the need for home-based entrepreneurs to have professional support services that are low-cost and easily accessible, fully-equipped business centres offer “virtual office solutions.  Standard packages include a professional business address, hourly meeting and office rental and personalized telephone answering support. It provides all the advantages of having a business office without the high overhead costs. It also presents a more professional image than holding business meetings in coffee shops — and far more productive!

Given the flexibility of the Business Centre staffing and the clients served, the range of additional services is limitless.  Besides having a virtual “office” you also have the luxury of a virtual “assistant.” For example, at Central Park Business Centre, you can receive everything from document support such as PowerPoint presentations, data-base creation and management, company newsletters and html website updates to telephone support including taking registrations for seminars, booking appointments, order fulfillment and even invoicing and accounts receivable assistance.

These services may be chosen on an a-la-carte basis or taken as a comprehensive package depending upon your needs as your business evolves. Full-time offices are also available. It offers you the flexibility and convenience to choose the services you need as you need them, keeping your costs low, and allowing you to focus on your core business.

Supplementing your home-based business with the services of Central Park Business Centre will enhance your chances of success and increase your satisfaction by allowing you to focus primarily on what you love to do!

Central Park Business Centre is centrally and conveniently located at Boundary Road and Kingsway, serving Burnaby and Vancouver area businesses. As an owner-managed company in business since 1986, the company’s focus is providing best practices services and helping its business clients succeed.  (www.executivesuite.ca)

Copyright © 2009 , Diana Gray, Author, Complete Canadian Small Business Guide. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of the material contained in this website is strictly prohibited.  Please refer to Copyright and Disclaimer at bottom of website page.