1,233 miles, 18 home businesses and 5 clear trends

Last week Enterprise Nation, the home business website, went on a roadtrip. Starting in Scotland, the touring team traveled south to meet and film home based businesses in what will become a mini documentary charting the rise in this modern way of working. Whilst out and about, the crew picked up on a few clear trends.

From Scotland to Shropshire

Packing everything in to a single week meant we were able to get a very quick overview of what’s happening in the home business sector across the UK. This is what we found:

Now is a great time to start – the mood throughout the week was incredibly upbeat. One moment that will stick in the mind is when Patrick Elliott (CEO of Business Link in London) opened an event with a question to the audience of ‘Do you think this is a good time to start a business?’ – a ripple of 200 voices came from behind and it was a resounding ‘yes’ – throughout the week we met people who are starting up whilst holding down the day job and 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.

emma jonesTechnology means trade – all of the businesses we filmed are making the most of technology, whether it be Stuart Mills [www.useyourlocal.com] 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 and MyEhive.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 & control – we stopped counting the number of times these words were used in interviews. Having started up, home business owners are finding freedom and flexibility in their working lives and are relishing being in control of their creativity, working environment and earnings.

Ethical – this is a slightly difficult one to put in to words. 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 an impact in many a varied way.

Growth through outsourcing – the adage of ‘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’s 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 as a place to meet business partners .. but also just to have a social chat!

It was a crammed and fascinating week that shone a light on what is a bright and vibrant business sector. The documentary will be aired for the first time on Home Enterprise Day on 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 week commencing 14th September and was sponsored by Orange.

Emma Jones

Emma Jones is Founder and Editor of Enterprise Nation, the home business website. She has successfully started two businesses from home offices in London, Manchester and rural Shropshire. Following a career with an international accountancy firm, Emma started her first home based business at the age of 27 and successfully sold it just 15 months after launch. Redbrick Enterprises Ltd was founded in 2002 to advise the public sector on effective homeworking. Spotting a gap in the market to provide information and inspiration to homeworkers, Emma launched Enterprise Nation [www.enterprisenation.com], the home business website, in January 2006. The website is a free resource for people starting and growing a business at home and has a readership of more than 390,000 people. As well as site content, there is also a free fortnightly e-newsletter and podcast. Emma’s first book on how to start a business from home Spare Room Start Up: How to Start a Business from Home will be published by Harriman House in May 2008.

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