The beauty of homebased business certainly lies in its diversity. The disadvantage of homebased business may also lie in its diversity, as no one, including homebased business owners themselves, can pin down exactly who makes up this market. According to research and consulting firm Find/SVP, there are approximately 18.3 million self-employed people who work at home. However, only about 8.7 million Americans who do any type of work at home said they operated a homebased business.
"Many people don't actually identify with the label," says Tom Miller, vice president of Find/SVP's Emerging Technologies Research Group, of the discrepancy. "For instance, consultants often just say, `Oh, I'm a consultant' or `I provide a service,' but they don't necessarily equate it with operating a home business."
Perhaps the label of homebased business owner is too restrictive. Or just too blah. You're more like the independent filmmakers in a world of Hollywood moguls and their formulaic movies, the interesting new kids in school that make the popular clique seem insipid by comparison.
You're definitely unlike the perception most people have of you. In contrast to a few years ago, homebased business owners today are typically wealthier, more educated, and more likely to be considered "knowledge workers" than the U.S. adult population at large. According to Find/SVP, 70 percent of you are men and 30 percent women. You're overwhelmingly of the boomer variety, more than three-quarters of you are married and more than half of you have children at home.
"Home office types are cultural creatives, which means they're taking advantage of technology to preserve the values of their family lives and work in a way they like," says Miller. "Operating a home business is about succeeding on your own terms."
But not everyone does it for all the nice, family-value reasons. Leaving a corporate environment also provides plenty of incentives. "Who wants to start the morning with white knuckles and go home with white knuckles, all the while feeling powerless?" says Berner. "It's brutal. The beauty of [being homebased] is that I can go into a corporation, do my work, get my pay and leave. I'm not subject to the backbiting, the gossip, the hideous politics that go on."
No wonder no one can quite get a handle on you. In a world drunk with power, you're in a territory all your own. You're part Wall Street, part Ingalls family. And we can't help but be, well, covetous. "Five years ago, the same people who thought, ` This guy's living on a trust fund, is not very serious about his profession, or is so unsuccessful he can't afford an office,' are the ones now saying, ` You work from home? You lucky son of a gun. How can I do that?' " says Berner. "People making humongous sums of money are envying my lifestyle."
They'd trade places with Berner in a second; he, on the other hand, would never trade places with them. "I can take a break at three in the afternoon and take a walk on the beach without getting a hall pass," says Berner. "And that makes me feel like a grown-up."