There is some confusion and overlapping in describing ‘home based businesses and ‘cottage industry’.
A ‘home based business’ is a small business operation that is run by an individual (the business owner) from his home that doubles as an office. The strategic location reference to home can also be defined by have a small or core group of employees or assistants, mostly family members or close friends. Such businesses do not require formal office spaces or frontages, advertising or marketing signs and other essentials that govern a business office or enterprise. However, some home businesses cannot be conducted from certain residential areas especially apartments or shared accommodation because of certain laws and regulations.
A ‘cottage industry’ is the name given to a system or operation that involves ‘production of products with tools and equipment individually owned’. Very often the products and components of a cottage industry are unique or hand-made or particularly distinctive in some way. Cottage industries are usually the way to promote long-forgotten skills or techniques involving dedicated workmen or artisans who are not equipped with infrastructure for mass production in factories or workshops. Quite often, certain products falling under the cottage industry category are identified with informally organized groups of people or particular families who have continued the tradition for generations. However, cottage industries which are strictly confined within homes face daunting prospects and challenges in the marketing and distribution of their products.
The broad concept
The concept of home based businesses, which first appeared during the mid 1970s, has over the years grown tremendously, gaining credibility along with way by practicing business ethics and following regulations. There are currently over 8 million home based businesses in the UK, made possible by advancements and improvements in technology. They now compete with other smaller commercial business organizations where they have the upper hand and enjoy tremendous advantages of saving on office rents, expensive furniture and building maintenance. High speed communication equipment like dedicated telephone connections, high speed wireless internet connections, smart phones and hand devices have all contributed to the emergence of home based businesses as a successful alternative to big street shops and commercial enterprises.
Now, largely thanks to communications advancement, home based businesses have come to include working opportunities for a growing community of people – students, housewives, retired pensioners etc. – who work from the confines of their home meeting the business end requirements of a variety of online and Internet based job opportunities. Ad marketing, business promotions, online surveys and questionnaires, product reviews, freelance writing and many other categories of job opportunities fill the Internet today. All it requires is a person with basic communication, computer operation and online search skills plus a huge interest in accepting challenges and meeting them. The eagerness to earn extra cash and build on monetary reserves is huge but one can easily fall prey to fraudsters and conmen who use the Internet to lure people into illegal money making schemes. This is one area that needs to be given careful thought and attention.