Business: Keep calm, and carry on with a smile

Nearly one million Australians opt for the flexibility and convenience of running a business from home. Starting a home business can also be a way of embarking on a new career. Flora Cauchi talks to three western Sydney entrepreneurs about the challenges and joys their ventures present.

According to Business.gov.au, a home business owner must be able to multi-task, have good management skills and a long-term vision to succeed.

‘‘Don’t be afraid to ask yourself hard questions about your business... It’s much easier to plan than to react to the unexpected,’’ a spokesperson said.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says 35 per cent of businesses are home-based.

Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson MP said there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding small businesses.

‘‘I know from experience people thought [owning a small business] was a fun hobby punctuated by lovely long lunches or golf,’’ he said.

‘‘[They are] a crucial part of the economy [employing 43 per cent of the private sector workforce] and deserve greater respect and deeper appreciation.’’

SmallBusiness.nsw.gov.au has a free tool kit to assist entrepreneurs on how to start, run and grow a small business.

Donna Sklavos, 48, is a beautician who works from home since 1993. She owned a salon in Parramatta for years before opening her home business.

Donna Sklavos, 48, is a beautician who works from home since 1993. She owned a salon in Parramatta for years before opening her home business.

Why do you work from home?

‘‘I love my work but disliked the stress of a conventional salon. I also felt I could still earn an income and maintain a level of independence while being a mum.

What do you most enjoy?

‘‘Clients become friends and it feels like you are always socialising.

What do your clients say?

‘‘They love arriving sans make-up with slippers on and no one can see them leaving unlike at the shopping centres.’’

Do you have any tips for new home-based business owners?

‘‘Maintain a part time job to pay the bills while building my home business and have a presence on the Internet.

Makeup artist Amanda La Monica, 33, launched mineral makeup range LaGlam Cosmetics five years ago, now a Nature & Health Beauty Award winner.

Makeup artist Amanda La Monica, 33, launched mineral makeup range LaGlam Cosmetics five years ago, now a Nature & Health Beauty Award winner.

Why did you set up a home business?

‘‘To be able to do something I had a natural flair for while working around having my children.’’

How do you think a home-based business compares to having a shop front?

‘‘I can work in my pyjamas and nobody would know it!’’

What challenges have you faced?

‘‘Storage. As the business has grown it’s like we live in a makeup factory rather than a home.’’

Do you have any tips for new business owners?

‘‘Finding suppliers you can rely on and surrounding yourself with others doing the same to bounce business ideas off each other.’’

Paula Saito, 35, offers reflexology treatment as well as remedial, sports and pregnancy massages. She opened the clinic in 2011 with the intention of working closer to her family. Picture: Gene Ramirez

Paula Saito, 35, offers reflexology treatment as well as remedial, sports and pregnancy massages. She opened the clinic in 2011 with the intention of working closer to her family. Picture: Gene Ramirez

What are the advantages of having a home-based business?

‘‘Being able to choose the days of the week that I want to work, the flexibility of taking a break between appointments.

How do you think it compares to having a shop front?

‘‘It’s a much more relaxing environment and also means not having to pay for rental, electricity, water bills and managing staff.’’

What challenges have you faced?

‘‘The biggest was leaving a job where I had a guaranteed number of clients to having to start from scratch not knowing how people would accept it.

Do you have any tips for new home-based business owners?

‘‘Don’t listen to everything people tell you, instead listen to your heart. Believe in your dreams, be persistent and smile a lot. A smile will conquer your clients.

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