I have a number of clients who I write for and most of those clients are distributed all around the world, which means that I can work for those clients from my nice comfy little home office.
But one of my clients is a very big corporation and their head office is not far from my house and when I write for them, I go into their office because I work with a team there. The projects I work on for them cannot be written from my home because it requires secure software and face-to-face meetings with the writing team… and I’m totally cool with that because I love this client and I really like hanging out downtown with all the bustle of downtown activities and shops and restaurants.
So I do a lot of work at home and I do some work at my client’s office and I’m really happy with that mix.
Well a funny thing happened not too long ago: Someone wanted to get together for coffee with me and I told them that I couldn’t get together with them at the time they asked for because I was going to be at my client’s office at the time they wanted to meet. They were befuddled by this and said rather incredulously, “I thought you owned a home-based business”. The person who asked me about my business seemed surprised and disappointed that my business wasn’t run 100% from my house… it seemed like they had just found out that Santa wasn’t real.
And at that moment I realized just how much I hate the term “home-based business”.
As the name suggests, a home-based business is a term that describes a business you run from your home. And believe me, there is NOTHING wrong with running a business from your home! But I think the problem I have is that the words “home-based business” set up a misunderstanding for the aspiring entrepreneur.
By focusing on the “home-based” part of “home-based business”, the aspiring entrepreneur does a disservice to themselves by limiting what kind of business they can actually start: You can run MANY businesses from your home that may not fit the definition of “home-based businesses”. And, if you start a business from your home but you want to grow your business, you may need to explore the possibility of expanding beyond the four walls of your house.
That’s the case with my business. In the strictest definition, it’s a home-based business because I started freelance writing from my home. I have a home-office and do all of my administration and all of my marketing out of that office, as well as the content for most of my clients. But I also want to grow and serve other clients and sometimes the services I provide (such as managing a group of writers employed by my client) requires me to show up at my client’s office for meetings and whatnot. I love running my business and I have the freedom to run it at home or at my clients’ offices — whatever I choose to do.
My business is a business that I happen to run from my home; it’s not strictly a home-based business.
There’s an entire industry of experts and gurus and info-marketers who are making a bundle by selling “home-based business” opportunities to an unsuspecting populace who believe that home-based businesses are somehow different than other kinds of businesses. They’re not.
Consider some really big corporations that started at home: Microsoft, HP, Apple, and Dell were all home-based businesses at some point, because they were started at home (or in a garage or dorm-room)… but they didn’t stay there.
I promise you that Bill Gates, Mrs. Hewlett and Packard, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell were NOT deciding to start “home-based businesses”. They were just starting businesses that happened to be in their home but which they eventually chose to grow beyond.
And that’s what you should do, too. If you want to start a business, destroy your notion of finding a “home-based business” and instead focus on finding a prospective client base with a pressing need that you know how to solve. Then start up your business from the comfort of your home and serve that clientele. And if you choose, you can grow your business beyond that.