By January 29, 2013 Read More →

Starting a home business during the recession

Do you have to be brave to start a home business at present?

Work from Home Wisdom - starting a home business in the recessionI asked Gwen Perret, a personal travel and event advisor from Chooz, in the Ardennes.

Hi Gwen, you started your home business last year – tell us how it came about.
I had been working as a primary school teacher for the previous 4 years and really I did not fit in the system. I needed more freedom, I was not patient enough and above all I loathe meaningless team meetings and all those occasions you waste time when you work in a corporate group. I did not enjoy going to work any more and felt it was time for a big change. 

How difficult was it to give up a full-time job during a recession?
I have always been a bit adventurous so it was not a big decision for me. I saw starting a home business as exciting, as a challenge, although I was fully aware of the economic environment.
It has been a lot harder on my loved ones who pretty much thought I was out of my mind. Of course I had some sleepless nights (and I still have some), but when I remember how I was feeling going to work everyday and not enjoying it, I deeply feel it is worth the worry and trouble. 

How much discouragement or encouragement did you get from family and friends?
Dealing with family and friends was and still is a big deal and takes too much energy. I know that people care for me and that their so called “advice” comes from the fact they don’t want my home business to fail, but their comments can be quite harsh.
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard “When will you start searching for a real job ? “, “When will you start making money? “, “You should never have left your job”, “Can you still go back?”… I wish those comments would not hurt me but they still do. 
I am blessed though to be surrounded by a few entrepreneur-minded good friends who have believed in me and have been encouraging me big time since the beginning and through rough moments.
That is one big thing about being a home business owner and entrepreneur. You are going on an emotional rollercoaster and you need strong unconditional yet objective support from likeminded people. 

What has been your biggest mistake?
My biggest mistake was to underestimate the effects of the recession on corporate clients. I was counting on corporate travel to take me through the first months. I had some big quotes. But the recession made them cancel all the bookings.
So I had to react very quickly and re-target my audience. In the end that was good because I am getting better contracts with my new target market: more interesting travel and higher prices. 

And your best decision?
To trust my feeling that I did not need regular advertising and a shop, against everybody’s advice. Instead to go for social networks and word of mouth. It took me longer to get clients and get known, but I now have a very exclusive, targeted group of clients and partners. They got to know who I am, what I am doing and how I am doing it. They now trust me. 

How does running a home business compare to your previous jobs?
It cannot compare. I feel so much better. Although I am working 7 days a week, until late at night and early in the morning… But I can manage my schedule, I have a lot of flexibility. I do not lose time in commuting. AND I can travel.
My office fits into my hand luggage and I need about 10 minutes to pack my laptop, smartphone, a few envelopes, gift cards, some official papers, the official stamp, my current files and accounting book. As for the rest, thank goodness for online banking and Dropbox 😉
Just this month I spent 2 weeks at my parents 700km away from my home office. I networked, worked for clients, signed new contracts, spent some time with my family and friends… And none of my clients noticed I was not actually behind my desk, stuck in a chair, with noisy colleagues around me. 

Gwen runs SensationnElle specialising in bespoke travel and events, making sure that her clients get the best experiences with no worries. Wine tours and European trips are just some of the treats you can read about on her bilingual website.

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2 Comments on "Starting a home business during the recession"

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  1. Microsoft was started in a recession. So, off you go!