The Pros and Cons of Working from Home Businesses
This article is mainly for those who are thinking of starting a Work At Home Business but are having doubts. It was put together ( Click here for the original version) By Sunday Steinkirchner | contributor for Forbes.Com. And true to form, here is his full un-cut article:
We work from our Manhattan apartment- a small home office is set up where our living room is supposed to be. This has always been the case, as we started selling books when the digital age had already begun, and it felt natural to do everything online. We never dreamed of opening a retail location. Fast forward eight years, and now opening a shop seems to be the ultimate route to growing our business. We’re not entirely convinced this is true, so we constantly wrestle with the idea. Having run our business in a “home office” for almost a decade, we have a pretty good idea about what works and what doesn’t.
Pros of a Home Office:
1) Flexibility! You can be anywhere and everywhere:
Theoretically, we could choose to run our business from a remote location in the Sahara if we wanted to. Well, hot and sunny desert might not be the best conditions for rare books, but you get the idea. True story: we did successfully run our business out of an apartment in southern France in 2007. The internet is fast, cheap and reliable, and we don’t really mind the perks of working in our pajamas and making our own hours. Additionally, we’re not the only ones in cyberspace- many collectors and sellers initially find us this way.
2) The option of a flexible “roaming retail” location:
If some customers still prefer meeting in person over doing Business Online, you can give them face time at trade shows, conferences or on business trips. We are happy to be in a business where trade shows are still one of the best ways to meet collectors. Despite the economic downturn and existence of the internet, strong attendance at shows tells us that the public still craves this venue (see my previous post on the benefits of trade shows here). And when you’re busy traveling the globe on business, you won’t have to worry about your shop back home, or pay someone to mind it.
3) You’ll save money:
Ultimately, this is the number one reason we have stayed at home. With skyrocketing rents and other hidden costs (security, employees), the expense of a shop would be one huge nut to crack every month. Instead of putting our profit toward rent, we can re-invest it back into our inventory. Even retail giant Borders (bankruptcy Feb 2011, out of business July 2011) can relate to the perennial problem of expensive rent payments. They had too many stores eating up their cash flow and were in deep debt even before the 2008 market crash and the e-reader craze.
Cons of a Home Office:
1) You’ll miss out on foot traffic:
You never know who could walk through your door one day and become your best customer. It’s no wonder that rents are high (but ultimately PAID) in places like New York City, Palm Beach, and Los Angeles– they are sure places to meet great customers. Despite the presence of the internet, an open shop can still be the biggest flag you can wave. Even small independently owned bookstores, which have been hit much harder by e-reader technology than rare books have, have multiplied recently (a 15.5% increase over the last two years.)
2) You’re more anonymous:
While this could be good depending upon the trade you’re in, some customers will never feel comfortable with you unless you have a brick-and-mortar shop. This can be an issue of accessibility, trust, safety or any combination thereof. A woman who came over recently was hugely disappointed after she huffed and puffed her way up our stairwell (that day, of course, the elevator happened to be out.) Upon finally entering our door, she looked around and exclaimed: “I would have never agreed to come if I knew you didn’t have a real shop!”
3) It’s harder to separate your private life from your business life: