The Home Based Business
From Board Room to Bedroom

Direct Sales Journal

by Michael L. Sheffield
CEO The Sheffield Group

As the year 2004 approaches, home-based businesses throughout the United States appear alive, well, and steadily expanding their sphere of influence.

In large part, this cozy scenario has been created by grim necessity; i.e. the fact that millions of employees have lost their jobs through downsizing, mergers, acquisitions, and plant closings during the last 10 years. Don't look for a return to the prosperity of the 60's and 70's within the near future. Economic forecasts predict that advanced technology will continue to make many white collar jobs obsolete. White collar displacement has made the blue collar shrinkage of the 1980s pale by comparison according to leading economist Paul Zane Pilzer. Nor should one expect the new year to usher in any ready solutions to the problem. More and more white-collar workers will be forced into the contingent workforce. This corps of temps, part-time workers, consultants, and the self-employed is expected to expand three times faster than the nation's entire labor force.

Yes, one might say an underemployment crisis exists without fear of indulging in hyperbole. However, as the old Chinese proverb points out, " Crisis is composed of two words: one being danger while the other is opportunity."

Ironically, the same technology that caused widespread white collar displacement has created the tools needed to implement and streamline practically any kind of home-based business. "The computer appears to have been a major cause of the increase in offices at home because it allowed the small business entrepreneur and beginning professional to be a great deal more self-sufficient than was ever before possible," said Herman Holtz, author of 1994's The Complete Work-at-Home Companion. "The desktop computer has been a leveler in the business world: ... even the smallest business today enjoys some advantages that were formerly available only to larger organizations: computer capabilities for automated mailing, accounting, inventory control, and many other important business functions."

With the advent of sophisticated yet user-friendly technology such as today's PC's, laser quality printers, fax machines, automated attendant, virtual electronic office, virtual PBXl, cellular phones, etc. home-based business owners can "get up to speed" with the rest of corporate America on a small budget."The image of people who work out of their homes has changed radically over the last ten years from hobbyists to creative professions," says David Hanania, president of the Home Business Institute, a clearinghouse of information, services, and benefits for those who work at home. This expert ascribes much of home-based businesses' credibility to new office technology. The typical Mom-and-Pop operation, working out of a basement armed with only an answering machine and the "latest word " in electric typewriters, has been consigned to the history books.

So today, practically anyone with a telephone, computer, and Internet connection can go into business working from home. It is not uncommon today for businesses to allow their employees to telecommute from home. While the telecommuter is still an employee of the company doing, they work at home 1 or 2 days per week. This is setting the stage for a new way of thinking about how business will be done in the near future. I should also point out that these telecommuters are prime for starting their own new business from home in the future adding increased momentum to the army of people who seek freedom from the traditional brick and business environment.

While these statistics certainly strengthen the credibility of home-based workers, many rewards enjoyed by these entrepreneurs involve other lifestyle issues. As might be expected, home-based businesses incorporate many advantages for couples or single parents with children at home. Increases in child care costs and commuting times are prompting families to seriously consider a home-based business in terms of a primary or secondary source of income. Plus families where both parents work outside the home are becoming increasingly concerned about raising "latch-key children" with lowered levels of self-esteem and achievement. Those seeking to improve the family environment as well as their lifestyle have discovered that a home-based business is often the perfect alternative to spending longer and longer business days (not to mention weekends) on the employer's premises.

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About the Author:

Michael L. Sheffield is the CEO of The Sheffield Group, a full-service direct sales and multi level marketing (MLM) consulting firm. He is a Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Multi Level Marketing International Association and in 2001 he was inducted into the MLMIA Hall of Fame. He and the Sheffield team have assisted in hundreds of national and international MLM corporate start-ups as well as offered a full line of services for established direct sales companies including consultation on MLM Website development. As the most noted expert on compensation plans, he has been a guest lecturer on the subject for the DSA, University of Illinois, University of Texas, Berkeley and Harvard Alumni Association. He has helped launch over 200 new products marketed by direct selling companies around the globe. He can be contacted at 480-968-6199, The Sheffield Group, 2239 N. Hayden Road, Suite 103, Scottsdale, AZ. 85257, website address: www.sheffieldnet.com.

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