Jane Shelton

SmartCompany /

People starting a home-based business often start at the kitchen table, but very soon find that space is a big issue.

Space invaders

Jane Shelton

Home businesses are a boom for the building and personal services industry. Morgan Research shows that home-based workers spend more on home renovations, minor home repairs, house cleaning, daytime child care, and yes, alternative health care. 

Eight out of 10 home workers purchase personal services that help them retain their preferred quality of life. By comparison, 69% of people who record “home duties” as their job use these services, 70% of those who say they have “retired” also do so. The research shows that three quarters of all small business owners, but only a third of students studying from home, consider using personal services.

The reason? People often start a business from home to save on rent. They start at the kitchen table but soon find this is not a satisfactory arrangement, encroaching on both the family time and space.

They also find that their practices interfere with other home-based workers, such as spouse or children (don’t they have a lot of holidays). Then there are the people who are soon working for you, and though they may work from their homes, they still come over for a business meeting at that kitchen table (and more often than not at the very time the rest of the family want to cook up a storm). This can lead to stress and conflict in the home – and even unsavoury results.

So home businesses soon realise they need a dedicated room with a desk, an ergonomic chair, reading lamp, stationary, a filing cabinet, computer, printer and telephone.

If a dedicated room is not possible, a dedicated space is a must, or at least a filing cabinet that can be locked and left while you return to family life.

Then there are all the personal items: the dog mat or cat pillow for when your pet (if you have one) sits beside you and helps ease business stress, the potted flower, candle, photos – all the things that help you feel and work better. This is your home office, not an impersonal office space. People put their stamp on their home office and let their personality shine.

When you no longer work in the big end of town in a high rise controlled environment, even the temperature control becomes an issue. Where does the morning sun come into the home office? Is it too bright to work some hours of the day?

Many businesses are catering to the SOHO market (small office, home office) and they realise that home business operators are making more business purchase decisions.

I must admit, in our household we are beyond the SOHO and have moved on to the HOHO (her office, his office). I also know families with HOHOTOs (her office, his office, their office; for the kids of course).

And it’s always a pleasure to get a blog response, especially one from an avid home-based blog reader from the beautiful Blue Mountains, reminding us all that running a home business over a long time can be rewarding, both personally and professionally.



Dr Jane Shelton not only runs a business from home but is doing business research into people working from home. She is managing director of Marshall Place Associates, Melbourne’s independent think tank, and CEO (honourary) for ‘Life. Be in it.’ International. Shelton has a Doctorate in Business Administration at the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (AGSE) at Swinburne University of Technology after a Master of Arts in Public Policy at Melbourne University and a Bachelor of Business in banking and finance at Monash University.

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