Working from home can be great. No commute, your own amenities, the chance to make a hot lunch instead of having leftovers or sandwiches and don’t forget pajamas, the uniform of people who work at home.
Okay, so most home-based franchises do require you to leave the house, but you still get to be your own boss and run your business from the comfort of your own home. This helps you save on rent for an office and leads to some great tax write offs. And, you wouldn’t want to spend all day cooped up in your house anyway, right?
The fact is that most home-based franchise businesses actually require you to get out there and schmooze, because usually you aren’t waiting for people to come to you.
It’s up to you to get out there and drum up business.
The range of home-based franchise businesses is wide. In fact, almost every type of franchising opportunity has home-based franchises available. According to 2011 numbers from Entrepreneur, these are the amount of home-based businesses that make up the following sectors:
- Automotive – 21 percent
- Business Services -66 percent
- Children’s Businesses – 41 percent
- Financial Services – 43 percent
- Home Improvement – 82 percent
- Maintenance Services – 81 percent
- Senior Care – 30 percent
- Technology or Internet – 75 percent
The numbers on small home-based businesses are pretty staggering. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 25.8 million businesses in the United States. Amazingly, over 99 percent of all employers are small and home-based businesses. Small and home-based businesses and franchises employ just over 50 percent of all private sector employees, plus they generated 64 percent of new jobs in the country over the past 15 years. They really are the lifeblood of the country.
The recession a few years ago saw an upsurge in people working from home, as they were laid off from jobs and had to reinvent themselves. Companies also began increasingly hiring independent contractors, fueling the growing number of small home-based businesses to fill this demand.
People’s increasingly hectic lifestyles are also causing them to turn to home based businesses and franchises. Facing lengthy commutes and demands on their time, many people are opting to make their home their place of employment so they can be around home and family more, even if they’re there in a working capacity.
Advantages of Working at Home
No, that doesn’t stand for bring your own beer, at least not in this case. It stands for be your own boss and that’s exactly what you get to be when you run a franchise from home. Being your own boss at home means you’re not trapped in a set work day.
While you definitely don’t want to waste time with too much distraction, working at home means you get to keep the hours you want to keep and can step out when you need to run an errand or just to take a bit of a stress break without having to ask anyone’s permission.
It may not be a word, but it will be a reality for you if you open a home-based franchise. You’ll save time (more time to sleep in the morning, less time to go from work to home life), you’ll save money on fuel or public transportation and you’ll save yourself the stress of those roads packed with people who want to be anywhere but on the road heading to work in the morning.
The most obvious item you’ll be saving money on is rent. There will be a drastically reduced initial investment starting out at home and operational costs will be much easier to keep down, too.
According to a 2009 report from Franchise Direct that included a representative sample of 33 home-based franchises, the average total initial investment for a homebased franchise can range from just under $45,600 to just over $94,800.
Versatility and Personal Growth
The old saying jack-of-all-trades may as well have been invented for home based businesses. Many jobs only require people to master a couple of specific tasks, which can cause boredom. However, running a home-based franchise means you’ll need to jump in and get experience in all facets of running a business, including marketing, sales, strategic planning, research and development, customer service and human resources.
You’ll also be the president and CEO, meaning the buck stops with you. But, you won’t have to go it completely alone. Your franchisor will offer you support and guidance every step of the way.
A Proven Business Model
And, maybe the most important thing, when you open a home-based franchise you will have the aforementioned backing and support of a brand and an entire business system that is already established.
An independent home-based business does not have the luxury of a system like this, but as a franchisee, you get to tap into a network that wants you to succeed as much as you do because it’s in everybody’s best interest if you succeed.
A lot of people equate home-based with easy, but that’s simply not the case. Being in the comfort of your own home means you run into some unique problems, like getting too comfortable.
“Don’t go into franchising thinking it’s a one way ticket to easy street,” Franchise Opportunities Network president Garth Snider told Inc.com. “Most franchisees will say it’s well worth it, but it is hard work,” Snider says. “If you’re easily distracted by the kids or Oprah, then [a home office] may not be the best environment for you.”
Snider, a franchise law attorney, says you can expect to work long hours, at least for the first while, as you get up and running. Those long hours can stretch into 12 or 14 hour days and when your home is your office, it makes it that much more difficult to get away from work.
Look Before You Leap
Some questions to ask yourself before deciding on a home-based franchise are:
- Can I work for long stretches in a solitary environment?
- Does my home have enough space to fit an office?
- Am I a self-motivated and organized enough person to work from home?
- Will I feel comfortable living where I work?
Something else you have to consider is whether you will legally be allowed to open a business in your home. You’ll need to check with your municipal government about zoning and what types of commercial endeavors you’re allowed to run out of your home.
Since most home owners insurance doesn’t cover losses of business equipment, technology, income, liability exposure, medical costs and other risks faced by home-based business owners, additional insurance will likely have to be purchased for you to be completely covered. And if you have customers or other people related to your business coming into your home for business purposes, you will need liability insurance to cover you if a customer or employee is injured.
Obviously, you’ll also need to prepare your home to accommodate an office. Just designating a corner of the basement may be enough, but it’s a good idea to try and emulate an actual working environment where you can keep your home life out so it helps you concentrate on work while you’re in there. If you’re using a landline, try to get a separate one for the business.
Another tip is to get dressed every morning for work, which will help keep your mind on business and keep you motivated (until you get used to it, then you might be able to slip in some PJ time).
And don’t forget the business license. Just because it’s being run out of a house doesn’t mean you get to bypass the licensing.
The low startup investment, quicker startup time, lower overhead, lack of commute and advances in technology that makes working from home completely viable nowadays have all contributed to home based franchises’ increase in popularity. Those advantages, coupled with the backing and support of an established business network make at home franchising a lucrative option for many.
About the author : A former journalist, Rob Swystun, has been writing professionally since 2006 and now concentrates on freelance writing. He lives in Winnipeg and is currently an Athabasca University student studying for a BA in Communications.