Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Are Homepreneurs the key to UK growth?

A new report suggests homepreneurs hold the key to economic growth. Hold on a minute, home what?  Homepreneurs. It was a new term for me and seems to have been coined to describe people who run an enterprise from home.

The report from Enterprise Nation numbers UK homepreneurs as 2.9 million contributing some £300 billion a year to the UK economy. So not just a bunch of eBay traders selling odds and ends from the home computer then? Interestingly the main occupations or entreprenuresare construction and services. And there are big differences between what I would call the building trades and the professional services offered by creatives, business services and consultants. Whereas the trades tend to operate locally while service providers are just as likely to sell services nationally and internationally.

Working from home, I have spoken with various building trade entrepreneurs such as builders, painters, plumbers, central heating engineers and landscape gardeners. Running their small businesses has many common features between their businesses and mine. Marketing is typically via 'word of mouth' with a web site as a reference resource for what we would call case studies and endorsements. Most do not advertise at all but rely pretty much on recommendations. Few employ staff and those who do seem to find management of employees a major headache. A typical scenario is a local tradesman who has a mobile phone book full of specialists that can be called in as needed and accounts at local wholesalers to buy products and materials at discount terms. Professionals such as accountants similarly work alone and get new business from their clients recommending to others.

When we set up Technical Marketing Ltd some 15 years ago, the Internet had become the enabling technology that allowed us to work without staff and and use a our own network of self employed specialists such as graphic designers, photographers, programmers, printers and many more. The business model is not encumbered by employment legislation, time spent on managing staff and organising employees. Instead we issue a design brief and request for pricing to our supplier and on acceptance issue Purchase Orders on a commercial basis. We had not thought of ourselves as homepreneurs, but  I  guess that's what we were!

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