find success from home
business owners find pros, cons
(January 2005) Kelli Stein, owner and founder
of Kellis Gift Baskets, started her home-based business after
she began putting together gift baskets around the holidays for her
family and friends. She found that she had fallen into a great opportunity
when they started asking her for more to pass along as gifts to their
Kentucky Edition Cover
Nine years ago, she left her job at General Electric to
pursue her talent and begin her own gift basket business. Like many
who have gone before her, Stein has never looked back.
The benefits of a home-based business are becoming increasingly appealing
to many people. The $1 trillion-dollar-a-year market has been growing
steadily in the United States since the 1980s, and today a business
is operated out of more than 6 million U.S. households.
The trend is nationwide, and home-based businesses in Oldham County
are booming as well. While there are many different types of businesses,
the typical home-based business is service oriented.
A home-based business requires a lot of hard work. The majority of them
do not have any paid employees, leaving the business owner with many
responsibilities. For many entrepreneurs, however, the work has led
to a rewarding career.
The advantages of working out of a home are abundant, but flexibility
is near the top of the list for most business owners. Along with a flexible
schedule comes the opportunity to earn an income while still being available
Today my son is sick, and I was able to stay home with him. I
didnt have to ask anybody, said Karen Bonura, a senior sales
director for Mary Kay Cosmetics.
In 16 years with the company, Bonura says she has never been asked to
put her job before her family. She is able to earn an executive income
while remaining a stay-at-home mom.
Bonura is among a large number of stay-at-home moms who have become
stay-at-home businesswomen. Chris Malin stays at home with her son while
running Backyard Bounce, an inflatable rental company. Malin and her
husband, Robbie Malin, began their business after they could not find
anyone to bring a bouncer to their sons birthday party.
The lack of availability prompted the husband-and-wife team to purchase
a couple of the inflatable party toys for themselves.
by Don Ward
Stein of Crestwood stays busy with her made-to-order gift baskets.
They rented them out at some local events for churches
and schools, and people went nuts for them, Chris Bonura said. From
that point on, they began purchasing more bouncers and now have a three-car
garage filled with them. It took some time, but as word got out about
their business, it grew. In its second year, the Malins were out nearly
every weekend through November setting up bouncers.
Businesses such as Backyard Bounce have no need for a storefront, but
even for those who could sustain a retail store, sometimes it is more
profitable for the business to operate out of a household.
Stein notes that it is important to have a dedicated work area. However,
it is easier for her to get out and sell her gift baskets if she does
not have to be at a store.
Charlene Claycomb operates her business, Remembrance Porcelain, out
of her home workshop and found similarly that it would not be cost effective
to open a store. Creating a piece is so time consuming that someone
else would have to run the store while she worked to pay their salary.
It works better for Claycomb to sell her jewelry at shows, gift shops
and arts centers.
She is one of the many business owners who took advantage of an opportunity
to make a career out of doing something she loved. It is not a
lot of income; if you dont love it, dont do it, she
said. It is a slow process, and the satisfaction lies primarily
in turning out a nice piece.
Although the advantages tend to outweigh the difficulties, a home-based
business owner faces many challenges.
So many people think it looks so easy, but they do not realize
everything that goes on behind the scenes, said Malin. It
is not quick cash.
Even when all of the resources are already in place, venturing out alone
can be difficult. When Bonura became a Mary Kay consultant in August
1998, the company provided everything she needed to become successful,
from support to training materials to taking care of each consultants
personal website. With the company already in place, Bonura said she
still faced the personal challenges of staying motivated, becoming a
good money manager and developing excellent people skills.
Another obstacle faced by many at home business owners is the problem
of separating home and work space.
by Don Ward
owner Diana Polsgrove accepts her 2003 Oldham County Chamber award
for home-based business of the year.
When Diana Polsgrove decided to operate her event planning
business, Eventualities, out of her home 10 years ago, she worried that
her corporate clients would not be impressed. It turned out, however,
that they enjoy the fact she is more readily available than if she were
working out of an office.
I am available morning, noon and night, she said. The
disadvantage to that is that you never leave work.
Whether doing it to make money, gain flexibility or to have fun, there
are a number of things to consider before jumping onto the home-based
bandwagon. Malin recommends that people be patient and think through
all of the different aspects and ways a business will affect their life.
It takes more time than some might think, she said.
Polsgrove said, One of the biggest misconceptions about working
out of your home is that you will have more free time, but you dont.
You still have to balance your schedule.
One of the challenges Stein faced in her departure from corporate America
was the loss of contacts inherent in the business world. Becoming a
member of the Chamber of Commerce can help home-based business owners
network, she said.
A lot of people join the chamber for networking opportunities.
Home-based businesses sometimes struggle because they do not have a
place to be visible from, said Joe Schoenbaechler, president of
the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce. Membership at the Chamber of
Commerce provides a place for business people to meet other business
It can help make up for some of the face-to-face interaction that is
often missed when one operates a business from home.
Meeting with business groups can aid a business owner in finding new
customers and can also offer valuable advice.
Bonura points out that it is important when starting your own home-based
business to listen to those who have gone before you. They are
successful for a reason.
Back to January 2005