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By Frances McGuckin

Operating a home-based business has become the current and future trend as the traditional job market shrinks. Houses and apartments are now designed with home offices in mind, and there is not the same stigma as there was ten years ago when you say you work out of your home.

Working from home has many benefits, particularly being able to spend more time with the family and less time commuting. Insurance companies enjoy home-based offices, as they offer more security against the increasing break-ins. Pollution is less as less people commute. Hours can be made flexible, and overhead is considerably lower. The tax breaks are a bonus.

There are also many disadvantages. For most people, motivation and discipline are real problems. Many don't operate their business seriously, because they are reliant on themselves, and themselves only, to make the business a success. Unstructured work days and family life eat up valuable time. Marketing is essential for a home-based business which has no visibility to the public. The only way to make your business visible and to market, is to get out there and tell the world you exist.

Self-employed people don't realize that they must seek outside education and networking to make their business grow. "The home-based business is an incubator," says Lynn Whitehouse, Manager of the Langley Chamber of Commerce, "the business grows at home until it is ready to move to a commercial location."

Too many people operate "out of their closets," forgetting that communication with the outside world is what makes a business succeed. Many people don't license their business. Perhaps they are scared they are breaking by-laws-which many do anyway. By not being licensed, and not being in the Yellow Pages, the business becomes invisible, and marketing can be a lost cause because the business can't be found if a business card is lost.

If you are starting a home-based business, and want it to succeed, there are a few rules for success which you must practice. License your business; join the Chamber of Commerce and actively participate; join networking groups; attend educational seminars and workshops to upgrade your skills. Learn about marketing, accounting, communication, computers, and business management.

Let's face it-no one is born a business hot-shot. These skills must be learned over a period of time. Education plays an important role in the success of a business. Take your home-based business seriously. Many multi-million dollar businesses started in basements, but the entrepreneurs were just that, and recognized the need for effective marketing, communication and education.

This weekly 'Business Concerns' column is available for Syndication. Please phone or e-mail inquires to 

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