There’s no place like home

SALTILLO – Abbie Moreno and Richelle Anderson started their businesses 10 years apart, but they have one thing in common: Both of their businesses are based in their homes.
Moreno, owner of A Basket Kase, and Anderson, owner of Lighthouse Web Dezines, are among the millions of home-based businesses that have mushroomed over the years.
According to IDC, a national research company, the number of home office households in the U.S. is between 34.3 million and 36.6 million. U.S Census figures suggest the number of home-based businesses could be as many as 38 million.
The U.S. Small Business Administration says home-based businesses make up roughly half of all U.S. businesses and “are of particular interest because of their potential as a wellspring of economic activity.”
Home-based businesses are a $425 billion industry, fueled by entrepreneurs attracted to low start-up costs, flexible hours and the chance to be their own boss.
Moreno got her idea to sell unique gift baskets after seeing the number of baby and wedding showers at her father’s church.
“I always wanted to do something different and I started putting together baskets,” she said. “I didn’t see anything like that being done in Tupelo or Lee County, so I started doing some research about home-based businesses.”
In November, she launched A Basket Kase from her home, putting up a Web site designed by her friend and fellow entrepreneur, Anderson.
“Oh, she’s been great and has offered so much advice and help,” she said.
And Anderson can dispense plenty of advice.
She started her company in 1998, but it wasn’t until two years ago that the business began to take off.
“When I first started, I had just gotten into Web design,” she said. “It was still a new idea to a lot of people.”
So, Anderson “put it down” for a few years, concentrating on being a stay-at-home mom.
In late 2007, she was ready to resurrect Lighthouse Web Dezines. Before doing so, she upgraded her skills, took some classes and seminars to find out the latest in Web design and got going again.
“I got my first client in September 2008, and it’s been going ever since,” she said.

Growth at home
Even as the number of people unemployed locally, statewide and across the nation continue to grow, home businesses might offer untapped potential.
According to The Enterprise Center at Salem State College in Massachusetts, “self-employed proprietors and micro-business employment may be growing.”
Dr. Laurence E. Goss wrote “Proprietor Trends in Massachusetts and Essex County: 2001-2006” and his findings also led him to look at national trends.
Among them:
• The number of American businesses increased 14.2 percent from 2001-2006, even though wage-and-salary employment grew just 5.6 percent. The increase was fueled by sole proprietors and micro-businesses, which grew 17.7 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively.
• In 2006, the U.S. had nearly 34.5 million proprietors, including about 20.7 million sole proprietors and 13.7 million proprietors with wage-and-salary employees.
But with the recession having begun in December 2007, those figures may no longer be valid.
No so, said Goss, who added that economic stress often spurs opportunity.
“Recessions traditionally produce an increase in proprietors as laid-off workers opt for self-employment,” he said.
Moreno and Anderson say they expect to get through the recession with a combination of product and service.
Moreno, for example, is always on the lookout for different and unique items to put in her baskets, which are priced from $15 to $500.
Anderson offers payment plans for customers who need it.
“I know that with small businesses, bills can add up and it’s sometimes hard to come up with a lot of money upfront,” she said.
With hopes that the economy will improve and their business will grow along with it, Moreno and Anderson have plenty of confidence.
And both hope to open their own store fronts that don’t share the same address as their homes.
“Pick any room for my office,” Moreno said with a laugh. “Upstairs, the living room, some of my husband’s office, wherever I can find room.”
As for advice for would-be entrepreneurs, Anderson said hers was simple enough.
“Go for it,” she said.
“Patience,” Moreno said, “is a virtue.”

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal