From the January 1998 issue of Startups

If there's one thing homebased business owners dislike, it's politics. Unfortunately, if you're in business, you're in politics. Like it or not, it's part of being a homebased business owner.

Many homebased entrepreneurs shy away from politics because they're disgusted with partisan wrangling, special-interest legislation and just business as usual. They're tired of Congress saying one thing and voting for another. And they're fed up with the bad attitudes of big business and unions toward entrepreneurs. Most small-business owners feel they don't stand a chance against big-business politics and are reluctant to get involved in the legislative process because they resent having to take time away from their businesses only to be frustrated by unproductive, unresponsive bureaucracies.

As a small-business owner, I can empathize with you. But as a homebased industry leader, small-business advocate, delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business, and one who's been there and has the scars to prove it, I'm here to tell you avoiding politics is not the answer.

Business owners, this is your wake-up call. The homebased sector is experiencing rapid change as industry leaders, members and others begin defining the industry's future through legislation, regulatory reform and public policy.

This is also the time when outsiders will challenge the entrepreneurial movement, which threatens to dismantle the status quo. For homebased entrepreneurs, the transformation has already taken place. Even government, big business and special-interest groups are catching up to the wave of changes we've made and to the explosion in the number of people working from home. The action or lack of action we take now will be closely tied to the future of America's homebased businesses.

What you think about politics and government is not the issue. The issue is: What will you do to help define the role of government and big business in the future of homebased businesses?

One of the great things about our political system is having the right to choose. You can choose to bury your heads in the sand. You can choose to let someone else deal with the issues. You can choose to drop out of the system by not registering to vote, and you can keep letting the opportunities to make a difference pass you by.

Or you can take control of your business's destiny. You have the power to do whatever it takes to get informed and educated on the issues affecting homebased businesses. Instead of criticizing, offer solutions. Become responsible for and committed to improving the homebased business climate. Or sit back and let others dictate your future. The choice is yours.


Debra Schacher, a marketing communications consultant, is president of Dare to Dream Marketing Services in Irvine, California, and chair of the National Home Office & Business Opportunities Association.