‘May you live in interesting times’ is, so I am told, an old Chinese curse. The implication is that most of us would far rather live in ordinary, even slightly dull, times. Interesting times suggests times of insecurity, of disruption, of change. And most of us, while we may agree that ‘a change is as good as a rest’, are uneasy when the world appears to be changing almost daily before our eyes.
Well, like it or not, few would deny that these are interesting times. Seldom has the pace of change in the world been more rapid. And nowhere has this been felt more than in the world of work. In the UK at least, the last ten years have seen the virtual collapse of manufacturing industry. The whole concept of ‘a job for life’ has vanished, with many people facing redundancy not just once, but two, three times or more during their careers. Even in sectors that were previously bywords for stability, such as banking and insurance, large-scale redundancies have become the norm. Many jobs advertised today are not permanent – whatever permanent might mean now – but on short-term contracts. And the global financial downturn of 2008 has further destabilised the employment market. As a result of all these factors, very few people today have the luxury of knowing that they will still have a job this time next year.
All change, however, brings opportunities as well as threats – and I firmly believe that as a result of some of these social and economic changes the prospects for people wanting to start a business of their own have never been better. Many of the organisations that laid off staff now buy in services from freelances or small businesses. Advice and assistance is widely – and in many cases freely – available for people who want to start up on their own. And advances in information and communications technology (computers, mobile phones, the Internet and so on) mean that self-employed people and small businesses can compete more effectively than ever before with large corporations. These developments have also, of course, created a wealth of (home-based) business opportunities for people with relevant skills, such as website designers, computer programmers, and so on.
Starting your own business is far more than just a substitute for traditional employment, however – it is a positive career choice in its own right. With many jobs today offering little in the way of satisfaction or prospects, more people than ever are looking for alternative ways of finding fulfilment in their work. Not only that, many are seeking more flexible working arrangements that allow them to enjoy more time with their families or pursuing leisure interests. Running your own home-based business – in which I also include businesses such as gardening and window cleaning where you work mainly on customers’ premises – can provide great satisfaction and the potential of good financial rewards, and it can be as flexible as you wish. A home-based business is also, of course, ideal for many people with disabilities. As a result of all these factors, starting a home-based business has become for many people their favoured route to achieving the life they desire for themselves and their loved ones. Every year, thousands more people are ‘breaking free’ to enjoy the flexibility of self-employment and the satisfactions and rewards of being their own boss. This book will show you how you can join them...
So why did I write How to Start and Run Your Own Home-Based Business? For nearly twenty years I have run a successful home-based writing and consultancy business, specialising in careers and self- development. During this time I have met many other home-based workers in a wide range of occupations. Without exception, they all agreed that starting in business was one of the best decisions they ever made, and not one (except on a very bad day) ever expressed any wish to be back in a conventional job. I believe that, for many people, starting a home-based business can be the answer to unemployment, job insecurity, work-based stress and the lack of flexibility in traditional employment. If this book serves to ease the path of just one person into the exciting world of running their own business, I shall be more than satisfied.
I’d like to close with a word of thanks and an appeal. Thanks must go first to the many home-based workers and organisations assisting them who helped me in researching and writing this book. And the appeal? I should like to ask you, valued reader, to write to me via my publishers if you have found this book helpful, or you have any suggestions for the next edition. And if, as a result of reading this book, you set up a home-based business of your own, I should be delighted to hear about it.
I wish you every success.