Working from home was a rare situation before computers allowed some of the first telecommuting in the 80’s. Now, the number of home-based businesses has exploded, thanks to the Internet. According to Businessweek, more than half of all businesses in the U.S. are run from home. There are now more than six million of these businesses providing at least half the income for the business owner’s household.
As the benefits of running a business from home become better known, the number of these businesses continues to climb. Workers who once spent part of their day commuting now only travel as far as their home computer when there is work to be done. And instead of paying for travel expenses and business suits, they largely pay for little more than their own computer and an Internet connection.
While studies show that home businesses take in less money on average than their brick-and-mortar counterparts, they keep a higher percentage. Because of the lower overhead cost of running a business away from the high costs of an office full of employees, they keep an average of 36 percent of the net receipts as their own income. Traditional businesses set in physical offices average only 21 percent. That difference has made it possible for businesses owners to live better without running an enormous enterprise.
Home Business Problems
Just as there are many benefits to remote work or working from home, there is also a downside. Being in the comfort of your own home means that there are also a lot of the distractions that working at home can bring. Personal calls, visitors and household diversions are just a few of the problems of running a business from home.
Then, there are the professional challenges. When a company is completely run from a house, there may be no place to meet with clients. The situation can also cause an image problem. Clients expecting to visit a brick-and-mortar business may find a home setting unprofessional. It may even cause some to question whether the business owner is entirely serious about the business.
Using a Virtual Office
With so many small businesses being built, and so many problems running them from home, the virtual office has sprung up to bridge the gap between the home office and physical office. With this option, business owners can take advantage of the benefits of having a fully staffed office without having to pay multiple employees or rent a complete office.
When the business owner has clients to meet, these offices provide a convenient place. When there are phone calls that need to be routed, a receptionist can take the calls and forward them to the owner as needed. A virtual office gives the business a professional address, such as New York City, adding to the professional reputation of the business. And because these spaces are shared with other small businesses, the cost is far less than renting an office to use full time. These hybrids between the workplace and home office give small business owners the best of both worlds.