Welcome Back, Home Based Businesses

Jim Blasingame, who runs a site called the Small Business Advocate, says October 10 to 14 is National Home-Based Business Week.

I was going to write about it, but what Jim has to say in his most recent newsletter is so good that I’m just going to quote it verbatim:

“Passing along Grand River Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, in the rainy, pre-dawn hours of June 4, 1896, neighbors would have witnessed a sight that at once would have seemed both normal and strange.

The strange part would be seeing one of the residents of this quiet neighborhood test-driving the gasoline-powered “quadracycle” he had built.

The normal part would be that this enterprise was taking place at the man’s residence.

For literally thousands of years prior to the 20th century, regardless of the chosen profession, most humans earned their living under the same roof where they did their living. Eventually, as much as anyone in history, our home-based car builder from Detroit changed where America went to work.

To leverage their dream of serving the burgeoning consumer economy, entrepreneurs like Henry Ford had to leave the house and build factories, offices and stores. And of course, all this corporate growth required the employment of millions to staff these operations.

Ultimately, and for most of the 20th century, working away from the home or farm became the norm in America. Indeed, home-based businesses actually became so rare as to be considered an oddity. And based on many community zoning ordinances, sometimes even illegal.

As the century of the major corporation — the 20th — evolved into the century of the entrepreneur — the 21st — two things converged to make operating a business from home not only socially acceptable once again, but as it had been for thousands of years, professionally sensible and practical.

1. The official death of the job security illusion.

2. Technology.

Beginning in the mid-1970s, downsizing as a way of corporate life created professional and family emergencies for millions of American workers who were conditioned to rely on corporate employment. Whether as a complete alternative to seeking employment, or as a part-time income supplement, those who were laid-off, as well as those who feared such a prospect, started looking for ways to work from home.

And if being sacked was the stick that motivated these would-be entrepreneurs to strike out on their own, surely the carrot was technology.

Technology made it feasible again for millions of people to literally set up shop at home, as their forebears had done for millennia. Actually, the home-based business silver bullets were powerful personal technology hardware and software, both delivered in bite-size increments and pricing, and of course, the Internet.

Being a successful small business owner is very difficult. But doing all of this from home adds a degree of difficulty that deserves special recognition. As America celebrates Home-Based Business Week — October 10-14 — we recognize and honor the more than 20 million courageous entrepreneurs who work without a net, from home.”

It is good to see home-based businesses resurging in the 21st Century. My hat is off to you, home-based business owner, no matter what part of the world you are in.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.