Women work at home to earn money, lessen stress, be their own bosses and see kids
By Candace S. Hughes
The Arizona Business Gazette
Heather Madder’s 18-month-old daughter’s sleepy eyes light up as she sees her mom arriving after a three-hour stint in her home office. Madder has just completed a radio talk show on the Grapevine Network which she hosts from her Gilbert home.
The 31-year-old author and spiritual speaker likes the three-hour daily workday based on her daughter’s naps, and hires a sitter for the toddler and three school-aged children at occasional times when she has work responsibilities outside the house and her husband is unavailable.
Her book, Walking on the Ceiling: The Practice of Overcoming Barriers and Creating a Life of Freedom, came after her father’s death due to alcohol and prescription drug addiction. “I needed to do something to make sense of my world.” Writing works with her desire to be at home with her children and she immediately enters her office after her daughter goes to sleep.
Madder’s enterprise is one of the 109,807 woman-owned businesses in Arizona, but no one keeps statistics on the number of home-based entrepreneurs in the state. The number was reported in a July study by the W.P. Cary School of Business at Arizona State University.
Due to the nature of the businesses and the fact that only some cities and towns require business licenses, there are no figures about the number of home-based businesses.
“It’s very difficult to get a handle on the number of home-based businesses,” said Bennett Curry, director of the Central Arizona College Small Business Development Center. We know there are many and that they are growing in numbers,” he says.
“For the most part they are under the radar because they operate out of a spare bedroom or garage. We’re anxious to reach them in order to help them be successful,” he adds.
“While cities and towns may identify a home-based business when folks apply for a license, the number will be under reported because many do not apply for the license or their homes are in unincorporated areas of Pinal County where a license is not required,” he emphasizes.
A number of organizations are seeking home-based businesses including the San Tan Area Chamber of Commerce which held a program in September for these types of businesses. There are about 15 home businesses in the San Tan Chamber of Commerce, says Jack Malpass, director of the new group.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 49 percent of the country’s 16.6 million businesses are home-based, and about 56 percent of these are woman-owned ventures.
Women are starting businesses at a much higher rate than men, and especially choosing the home-based alternative, says Bob Hisrich, Garvin professor of global entrepreneurship at Thunderbird The Garvin School of International Management.
The increasing number of home-based businesses opened by women nationwide reflects that women can keep their family responsibilities and still run a company, he says. “The service-based economy lends itself to home-based businesses,” he adds.
While some work at home to accommodate children’s schedules, women without children also choose home-based businesses, but caution that the concept has challenges as well as rewards.
Karen Willes of Country Ceramics in Queen Creek says she has set specific times for personal enjoyment on Fridays and Sunday mornings. “No work then,” she emphasizes.
On the other hand, she says that it’s hard to get away from the business. “Actually, I end up working from 8 in the morning to 11 at night. The only good thing is that I enjoy what I do. Most of my customers respect my time at home,” she adds.
Willes says she likes to keep busy. “We sponsored a retreat at Mormon Lake Lodge where we painted all weekend. There were 39 there and we had a great time.
“I celebrated my 20th year of business recently and I like having it right next door. Right now I have some kilns to empty and don’t have to travel to do it and I have found it very convenient.”
Tisha Marie Pelletier of Simply Put Marketing Communications in Gilbert operates a business out of her home and a faithful dog keeps her company while her husband is at work. She has recently picked up some larger, steadier accounts and is glad to have the autonomy she lacked when she was an employee.
The 27-year-old’s competence is demonstrated by the excellence of her clients, she continues, pointing to the fact that one of her customers, Engenuity Systems, was recently nominated for two small business awards.
She’s also glad that’s she’s had enough success after two years in business to be choosy about the clients she takes on.
“I typically work on-site with some clients so having an office outside the home would not be beneficial for me since I’m always out.”
While she had looked at the benefits of working at home and having a child, she has decided to delay having kids and enroll in community college classes to add more marketing skills.
Driving time from Gilbert wasn’t an issue since she delivers products to clients’ offices and homes or meets at restaurants or coffee shops to conduct business.
Jennifer Rodriguez, a client of Pelletier’s, operates her online store offering hand-crafted custom announcements and invitations for weddings, births, corporate events and parties.
The 28-year-old has been in business one year as Belle Paperie and will soon be moving to Utah to be with her husband who was transferred there in the summer.
The Queen Creek entrepreneur recommends that anyone thinking about opening a home-based online business should read the book E-myth. “It was a rude awakening that has only helped our business and in fact has pushed it to a new level,” she adds.
“Although we currently serve nationally, our greatest exposure has been in Arizona. Starting in 2007, we will heavily serve Utah, Oregon and Washington as well as Arizona.
“We will be hiring a large crew to help with production while I maintain design control. We also will be introducing a more advanced Web site in January to better assist with client needs and we have many more things planned to delight our clients!”
While she will be having a separate studio in Utah, Rodriguez was glad that she did not have to deal with lease agreements, utilities, selling or moving office fixtures and the closing of an office before moving.
“With a home-based business, it’s not such a shock to our client base,” she adds.
One of the important aspects of a home-based business for women is looking at your goals, says Madden. She is able to be at home with her four children, cook meals, go to soccer games and still demonstrate that she makes a positive impact on the world outside their Gilbert home.
Freelancer Candace S. Hughes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bennett Curry may be reached at 1-(520)-494-5341 or email@example.com. Karen Willes may be reached at (480)-987-3935. Tisha Marie Pelletier may be reached at (480)-219-1356 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Jennifer Rodriguez may be reached at email@example.com. Karen Willes is at (480)-987-3935. The U.S. Census Bureau