1,233 miles, 18 home businesses and five clear trends

By: Emma Jones

Date: 2 October 2009

Enterprise Nation, the home business website, has been on a roadtrip. Starting in Scotland, the touring team travelled south to meet and film home-based businesses in what will become a mini documentary charting the rise of this modern way of working. While out and about, a few trends became apparent.

Now is a great time to start
The mood throughout the week was incredibly upbeat. One moment that will stick in my mind is when Patrick Elliott, CEO of Business Link in London, opened an event with one key question to the audience: ‘Do you think this is a good time to start a business?’ A ripple from the 200 people gathered quickly turned into a resounding ‘Yes’.

Throughout the week, we met people who are starting up while holding down a day job, as well as others who have come out of redundancy to realise their business ambitions. We met a wide cross-section of businesses and there was nothing but positive chat from them all.

Technology means trade
All of the businesses we filmed are making the most of technology, whether it be Stuart Mills, who is applying the web to the pub world, or Malcolm Gallagher, who is communicating his business message through online videos, produced cost-effectively from a home studio.

Many of the craft businesses are using sites such as Etsy.com to sell their products to a national – and international – audience. Technology is clearly broadening the trade and partnering horizons of many a small business.

Freedom and control are key motivators
We stopped counting the number of times these words were used in interviews. Having started up, home-based business owners are finding greater freedom and flexibility in their working lives and they are relishing being in control of their creativity, working environment and earnings.

The importance of being ethical
Every business owner we interviewed is doing something ‘good’ by being in business, whether it be: Clare Nicolson, who believes in giving work to the people in her neighbourhood; Emma Henderson, who sources fair trade fabrics from India; or Emma Warren, who offers time and business experience to a charity. They would not refer to themselves as ‘ethical entrepreneurs’ as such, but these business owners are having a positive impact in many a varied way.

Growth through outsourcing
The old adage – ‘Do what you do best and outsource the rest’ – is being taken seriously by the home businesses we met. Companies are partnering up and work is being outsourced to professionals. In the case of BodieandFou, Karine Kong outsourced the design and build of her website to an expert she has yet to meet. Technology tools such as Skype, email and project-management software means there’s no need to be in the same place, but for others, physical networks are important places to meet business partners – as well as just to have a social chat.

It was a crammed and fascinating week that showed just how bright and vibrant the start up sector is. The documentary will be aired for the first time on Home Enterprise Day – Friday 20th November – when home business owners will be travelling to us.

  • Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’
  • The home business roadtrip took place in the week commencing 14th September and was sponsored by Orange.

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