Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 10th 2014 Contents AUGUST 10 • 2014 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
ENTREPRENEURSHIP | SBG15
Most people use their
homes as a place to live
and enjoy after a long
day at the workplace.
Many pay a mortgage to
enjoy the benefits of
owning a home. It is better than renting they
say. But what could be better than owning a
home? What about owning a home and letting
it pay the mortgage. Sounds like hype? Well,
read this story about Bette Graham. You may
just change your mind.
Bette Graham a single mother who had
dreams of becoming an artist had taken up a
job with a Texas bank in the early 1950s as
a secretary to support her young son. She
worked hard and rose to the position of exec-
utive secretary to the chairman. Her typing
skills, however, were not very good and she
often had the challenge of typing over doc-
uments. This was the time before personal
Bette got an idea one day to use wall paint
and a small paint brush to cover over her mis-
takes. Using her artistic skills she mixed more
paint to match paper colours and was giving
them out to her colleagues. She sold her first
bottle of "Mistake Out" in 1956 making it in
her garage and selling it part time.
Business grew and, by 1968, she moved out
of her home and invested in a factory. Bette
had turned her part-time home-based business
into a large and profitable one. She eventually
sold what became The Liquid Paper Company
for US$47.5 million in 1980.
The Home Sweet Home
If you feel that working out of home is odd,
think again. The most powerful man on the
planet works from home. US President Barack
Obama lives and work out of the White House.
The typical story of entrepreneurs starting
their businesses from their garages, bedrooms,
a space room, back or front yards and porch
is common place. Starting from home offers
The number one benefit is the low cost,
you have a low cost structure and that gives
you an immediate advantage over your com-
petitors. If you are situated near your customers
or suppliers or employees, that is another
advantage. Since we have full employment
and workers are difficult to get, having a home
based business might mean you can easily hire
from your community or even sell to them.
Think about the swiftness of your response
to a customer close by.
Some people start a business out of home
for lifestyle reasons. I love the one-minute
commute; from upstairs to my downstairs
office. I am writing this article in my home
office and in shorts, T-shirt and some smooth
jazz in the background. Couldn t do that in
a regular office?
It is the kind of life that everyone cherishes.
You might be a single parent and this is the
way to start working very early before the kids
start with their routine. Remember when you
are at home everyone one else is in traffic,
you have already done two hours of work
already and enjoying a homemade breakfast.
Cubicle life does not have these advantages.
Or you prefer to work at home and enjoy
the benefits of looking after an ill parent and
be better able to juggle your personal life.
Maybe you also have health challenges and
this is a way to slow down but get more done
(the wasted time in traffic and senseless meet-
ings). You shun the rat race and know that
even if you win the race you are still a rat!
Home alone can be a terrific way to spend
more time with the family and yourself. I like
being alone sometimes and it is a good oppor-
tunity to reflect and be creative. Creativity is
after all the precursor to ideas and innovation.
While home has its advantages, it comes
with some drawbacks. If you are home with
your family it could get very unproductive.
The constant demands from them and the
attractiveness of a snack filled refrigerator can
be a distraction. Then there is the drop in
neighbours and relatives. So you have to man-
age all these distractions. First let them know
that you are working out of home and not
unemployed. Try to schedule your work time
around the de-tractors ; when are out or
sleeping if you can do that. Or better yet,
involve your family in the business. This is a
nice opportunity to get them a business edu-
cation, tap into some free labour and hopefully
leave this business for them or have some
continuity. There is nothing like a good legacy
after you are gone.
It is easily to set up a home office (if you
need one). A phone (which you already have)
or your cell phone is your business line but
remember to train the kids not to answer the
phone or to answer it professionally. Customers
may think you are not a serious contender. A
computer with Internet access, printer/scanner
and of course a filing cabinet to store your
paper work. If you have a spare room at home
this is an easy way to have an office.
If you have a business that needs a pro-
duction environment, a designated area which
can be converted from your garage can work
or an adjoining room or a small extension
Remember that while renting a place might
give you more space, the ideal thing is to use
a low cost approach. A business start up is a
business experiment; it may not work out or
not it the way you envisioned.
Now that you have your home structured
to open your dream business, you might be
thinking about what kind of business is suited
Because we live in the information age, serv-
ice businesses are very attractive and appro-
priate for your home. This can be consulting,
events management, professional services or
any service that the client might not come to
see you. Most business requires that you have
to see them instead and if they ask if you
about your office tell them you are between
offices and take them to Rituals!
Selling products either manufactured at
home or imported, can be sold from a small
store room. If you import seeds (or collect
them yourself) or make wines, these items
need little space and your station wagon is
your commercial vehicle for delivery.
Some businesses require that the work be
completed at the customer s residence. If you
are a skilled plumber, electrician or technician
that service air conditioners and heavy home
appliances, these items are better repaired on
Then there are people who have hobbies
that could be easily turned into a business.
Tropical fishes, backyard gardens, dog rearing,
tutoring and others can be into commercial
If you live near a busy road, this might be
an opportunity to sell food. If you wanted to
be different and experiment with geera chicken
and lamb, a low-cost way is to place your
food stall outside your drive way and start
selling. If things take off, you can convert your
kitchen into a commercial one.
So, your home is not just a place to live
only but it could be an untapped opportunity.
So walk around your home and ask yourself,
why am I paying for this white elephant?
Sajjad Hamid is an SME consultant, Entre-
preneur Central. He can be contacted at
Start your home business
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