Are you fed up with early morning carpools, cranky bosses, office politics and water cooler gossip? Maybe it's time to chuck it all and go to work for yourself.
"Several years ago, I was working for a major bank in the Bay Area, and on the weekends I'd shop and run errands," recounts Salley Frazier, founder and owner of Born2Shop in Oakland. "I would tell friends and business acquaintances about my great finds and they began asking me to pick up things for them too."
People would give her money in advance or simply reimburse her after the purchase. Soon she began buying at least two or three of every item because she knew someone eventually would need a great wedding or birthday gift.
"I've always had an eye for a bargain and I did a lot of wholesale shopping," she adds. "So when I was laid off from the bank seven years ago, the shopping became a full-fledged business."
Her knack for inspired shopping spread by word of mouth. Five or ten clients grew to over 100. Now she makes purchases for airline pilots, doctors, flight attendants, teachers, housewives, nurses and others who don't have either the time or the incli-nation to go shopping on their own. "Money is no object for a lot of people," she finds.
Leaving banking for shopping was a good decision for Frazier, she says, because "I love to shop and love spending other people's money."
She also likes the challenge. "I think the most unusual purchase was the client who wanted a belt buckle, money clip, cuff links, tips for his boots and a flask - all in sterling silver and monogrammed."
JulieAnn Kerber of Oakdale began her home business, I Write on Walls, when her boys were toddlers.
"I have been doing calligraphy for 25 years. When my children were little, I put my worktable in the living room and put the 'kiddie corral' around me," she laughs. "The best thing I can say about my business is, I just love it!"
She got the idea of writing on walls from her sister's suggestion about painting murals. "That gave me an idea," she recalls. "I had my boys go to the new housing tracts on their skateboards and drop off my brochures, and I got a lot of work."
Kerber notes that because people most often ask for scripture, the calligraphy satisfies her
artistic bent, while interaction with the client is fun and energizing.
"I practice my artwork on the walls of my home so I can regulate my own hours," she states. "The best part is that I'm at home when my boys come in, and that means everything."
Truly a Home Business
Some find creating a home business is a great way to meet more people. Robert Bruce Ansell and his wife decided to open a bed and breakfast inn, Savoyard, on a small scale seven years ago.
"I was a postmaster in North Highlands and couldn't see myself not doing anything when I retired," he recalls. "The primary advantage to our business is the social atmosphere. We love meeting new people and thought it would be fun because we've always liked to entertain. Now we do it everyday over breakfast and chatting at the end of the day."
He admits the lack of privacy would bother most people, but the four-bedroom Sacramento inn does have its private quarters. He advises those seriously interested in this type of home business to have a minimum of eight rooms to make it reasonably profitable.
"There are tax advantages for our business, but there are two other factors that must come first," he contends. "There is a constant requirement of your time, and if you don't get along with people . . . forget it."
Transcribing a Success Story
Twenty years ago the founder of Cynthia Tauber Office Support in Millbrae was fed up with doing law-office transcriptions and figured the only option was retirement. But her husband's visit to a bookstore changed her plans.
"He saw a book titled How to Start Your Own Word Processing Service, but I balked at the idea and didn't want to spend $14.95."
Tauber finally bought the book, read it, and after calling the author for more information, she was hooked. Her first job paid only $3, but the business grew quickly.
"Now I do medical, legal and business transcribing and I'm very selective about my clients. Most come from referrals," she states. "I have three people who help me periodically when the workload gets too much."
She believes home business was the right choice for her, but admits there are challenges.
"You have to be a self-starter and be able to use your own brains," Tauber advises. "I don't miss the workplace camaraderie, but I love the thought of doing things at my own pace and being able to work in my sweats."
SIDEBAR: Other Ideas
Other options for home businesses include dog training and kenneling, interior decorating, notary public, bookkeeping, proofreading and editing, resume writing, tutoring, mail order sales, catering, travel planning, cosmetic sales, real estate appraisals, wedding coordinating, computer repair, plant nurseries and child care.
If you have a talent you would like to market to the world, consider a website like elance.com. For a $25 monthly fee (or $40 for a premium level) the site lets you advertise your skills for hire. You write a profile of your service, then bid on a range of projects in various categories: accounting, web design, resume and creative writing, administrative support, legal and personal services such as tutoring. The buyer chooses a winner and the deal is struck after payment terms are agreed upon. Elance keeps a 10-percent transaction fee.
Because you are self-employed, no taxes are automatically taken out of your pay, so the Internal Revenue Service wants its share when April rolls around. Depending on your income level, penalties may be assessed if quarterly tax payments are not made. But it's not all bad. The IRS does allow deductions for a home office, phone calls, Internet service, office supplies and more.
For more information on home-based businesses and the organizations featured in this story, go to these websites:
AAHBB.org - American Association of Home-Based Businesses, national non-profit organization formed to support and advocate for home-based businesses.
Elance.com - (877) 535-2623
HomeBusiness.com - American Home Business Association, membership association offering resources, support, benefits and services for home business owners. $9.98 per month (charged quarterly).
homebusinessmag.com - Home Business Magazine. Everything to do with running a business from your home.
HOAA.com - Home Office Association of America, membership association for home-based and small-business professionals. Offers newsletters, resources, services and benefits packages. $49 per year.
Irs.gov - Internal Revenue Service
USAHomeBusiness.com - USA Home-Based Business Information Super- highway, provides members and subscribers a quick and reliable source of business, trade, management, and direct and network marketing information. The website includes links and a free newsletter (registration required). Memberships start at $85 for the initial fee, with annual dues of $48.
BornTwoShop.com - Born2Shop, (510) 635-2330
I Write on Walls - (209) 847-6888
Savoyard.com - Savoyard Bed & Breakfast, (800) 772-8692