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|This article possibly contains original research. (October 2011)|
A home business (or "home-based business" or "HBB") is a small business that operates from the business owner's home office. In addition to location, home businesses are usually defined by having a very small number of employees, usually all immediate family of the business owner, in which case it is also a family business. Home businesses generally lack shop frontage, customer parking and street advertising signs. Such businesses are sometimes prohibited by residential zoning regulations.
The prospect of working from home has gained credibility over the years. Home offices can now compete with small commercial businesses and save on rent in the process. Faxes, high speed internet connections, dedicated home telephone lines, and cell phones help to make a home-based business a reality. Earlier home businesses had been where families lived on the second floor of their house while converting the first floor into a store, where upon close of business they would secure the first floor and retire to the upper floors. This type of home business is still done in some rural areas. Many home businesses are started off in a much smaller capacity whilst the owner is still employed elsewhere, and then expanded once they are proven to be profitable.
The concept of home-based business, as opposed to the previous terminology of "cottage industry", first appeared in 1978. The phrase was coined by Marion Behr, the originator of a study to find out what businesses women throughout America were carrying on in their homes. The preview edition of Enterprising Women wrote about the search to gather information pertaining to home workers throughout the nation. Numerous magazines and organizations helped to disseminate information regarding the study. Ultimately 40,000 letters were received, many indicating the problems the respondents experienced while carrying on businesses from their homes.
The problems were analyzed and confronted in two ways. In 1980 the National Alliance of Homebased Businesswomen was founded to combat the isolation expressed by the respondents as well as to fight the laws which made conducting their businesses difficult. Then Women Working Home: The Homebased Guide and Directory by Marion Behr and Wendy Lazar was published. It contained the stories of many women who ran home-based businesses throughout the country in many diverse fields, as well as information on business formation, conduct and compliance with the law. It sold 50,000 copies. During this time many national magazines wrote about these issues. At the White House Conference on Small Business in 1986, one of the major resolutions was a recommendation favoring lifting restrictions on home-based business.
The number of home businesses continues to grow due to the increases in technology. In Great Britain, 8 million people were running an online home-based business as of April 2013.
Licensing requirements for home-based businesses in the United States vary based on industry and location.
Numerous businesses, initially started as home-based, have expanded to become significantly larger operations. These include: