home-based business local opportunities


home-based business local opportunities
Minutes Page 607
Yarra City Council - Ordinary Council Meeting Minutes - 16 February 2010
Minutes Page 608
This publication has been prepared by Australian, State and Territory
Governments. It was endorsed at the 28 July 2004 meeting of the Small
Business Ministerial Council.
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Yarra City Council - Ordinary Council Meeting Minutes - 16 February 2010
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Developments in communication and information
technology, together with economic and social change,
have greatly contributed to the resurgence of homebased businesses. In particular, downsizing of public
and private organisations and the trend towards
outsourcing non-core activities have led to structural
changes in the workforce. This, together with a desire
for flexible lifestyles especially among those with family
commitments; and the attraction of lower overheads
and start-up costs have encouraged people to make the
choice to use home as a base for conducting business.
Despite the fast growth of the sector, home-based
business operators continue to face a set of unique
challenges. Local government authorities can play a
Home-based businesses are an
important sector in Australia with
nearly one million people operating a
business at, or from, home.
vital role in helping home-based businesses meet these
challenges. In return, local communities will benefit from
the economic and social contribution these businesses
What is a home-based business
and what are the myths surrounding
A home-based business is any business that
operates from home, at home, or both1. The sector is
predominantly made up of micro businesses (less than
five employees), and is diverse, comprising businesses
from a wide range of retail, service and manufacturing
Recent studies have exploded the myth that homebased businesses are always part-time cottage industries
which operate as hobbies. These studies show that
home-based businesses are not marginal forms of small
businesses. They make a real contribution to family
income and create significant wealth and employment in
local communities2.
The findings from these studies also contradict the
perception that home-based businesses are less serious
about their business than other small businesses. They
1 Businesses operated ‘at home’ are businesses where most of the work of the businesses is carried out at the home of the operator(s). Businesses operated ‘from home’ are businesses
where the business has no other premise owned or rented other than the home of the operator(s).
2 For example, see
• Houghton, K & CREEDA 1999, Home-Based Businesses in Two Australian Regions: Backyarders and Front-runners, DEWRSB, ACT Government, Sunshine Coast Area
Consultative Committee, Noosa, Caloundra and Maroochy Councils.
• Stranger, Anthony, M.J. Determinants of Home-Based Business Sales Performance, School of Commerce Research Paper Series 00-18, Flinders University, 2000.
• Morris, R & Pike, S, Home Alone: Uncovering the extent and value of Home- Based Businesses in Regional Communities, SEAANZ Proceedings of the 15th Conference, 2002.
• Walker, Beth A profile of the Home-based Business Sector within the City of Swan, December 2002.
• Department of State and Regional Development report on micro-business in New South Wales, August 2003.
Yarra City Council - Ordinary Council Meeting Minutes - 16 February 2010
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Photo courtesy of José Navarro
An award-winning Perth business has dispelled the myth that
home-based businesses are not serious operations.
When Perfect Paws, a pet supply specialist business
Perfect Paws now offers new products outside the
operated by José and Angela Navarro, first opened they
professional dog grooming sector, and sells its expanded
discovered they were taken lightly because they were
range of pet supplies online, including to the general
small and worked from home. It seemed the companies
public. As well, Perfect Paws has introduced a Turn
they wanted to order dog grooming supplies from were
Key Package for others interested in starting their own
large, mostly located in the eastern states, and not keen
mobile dog washing service, backed by comprehensive
to deal with an independent operator who did not require
training and the expert support of established dog wash
huge quantities.
Determined to see their home-based business
And the energy of Perfect Paws owners does not
succeed, José and Angela brought these suppliers to
stop there. José and Angela are considering expanding
Perth and organised meetings with many mobile dog
into the consultancy field and planning to export their
washers and groomers to demonstrate there was a
products in the near future.
sufficient market for these products in Western Australia.
Perfect Paws sources as many suppliers and services
Perfect Paws has won major national and state
awards, including five Micro Business Network Awards
as are available locally, and employs a network of local
(2003) and the Edith Cowan University/ North West Metro
tradespeople from Perth’s northern suburbs.
Young Business Achiever Award (2003).
The business continues to grow and launched its
Perfect Paws is a perfect example of how a small,
web site in January 1999. It is now one of the most
home-based business operator can produce innovative
recognised sites in Australia by trade, earning Perfect
products and services and develop into a highly
Paws wide-spread recognition and credibility, here and
successful and recognised business. H
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show that while these businesses may have lower
overheads and can operate more flexibly, their operators
are equally passionate about their business and work
hard to be successful. Australian Bureau of Statistics
(ABS)3 data demonstrates little difference in gender,
age and background between home-based and small
business operators. The home-based operator, however,
is less likely to employ staff.
In terms of critical mass, the home-based business
Number of small businesses: home-based
versus commercial location (June 2003)
sector is significant, with more than two thirds of small
businesses being home-based. The ABS data also shows
Operated from a commercial premises
68 per cent of home-based businesses are operated
by men;
50 per cent of home-based businesses are more than
five years old; and,
59 per cent of home-based operators work more than
35 hours a week.4
Size of the sector
Home-based businesses make up a significant proportion
of the small business sector. The ABS5 estimates
show that in June 2003 there were 784,800 businesses
operating from home or at home. This represented 67 per
cent of all small businesses nationally. These businesses
were operated by 987,700 people, representing 62 per
cent of all small business operators.
From November 1999 to June 2001 the number of
home-based businesses grew faster than the number of
Operated 'at home' or 'from home'
Source: ABS, Characteristics of Small Business 2003, Cat No 8127.0.
small businesses, increasing at an average annual rate
of 16 per cent during this period. This was five per cent
higher than the rate of growth for small business overall,
which was 11 per cent during the same period.
Home-based business growth plateaued between
June 2001 and June 2003 with the number of businesses
growing by an average annual rate of 0.4 per cent
compared to 0.7 per cent for small businesses during the
same period. It is worth noting that the national figures
mask some state and territory differences. For example,
in South Australia, between November 1999 and June
2001, the average annual growth rate of 25.6 per cent
was significantly higher than the national average, while
3 ABS, Characteristics of Small Business 2003, Cat No 8127.0.
4 ABS, Characteristics of Small Business 2003, Cat No 8127.0.
5 ABS, Characteristics of Small Business 2003, Cat No 8127.0.
Yarra City Council - Ordinary Council Meeting Minutes - 16 February 2010
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Photo courtesy of Queensland Government State Development
Pty Ltd
While many believe a small home-based business could never become a
multi-million dollar operation, Annette Sym’s has a proven recipe for success
Seven-and-a-half years ago Annette had to hire a
‘I don’t spend money on advertising,’ she says. ‘Instead,
computer to put her first cookbook on disk so it could be
I think of stories about my books and my success and I
delivered to a graphic artist. Her office was in the family
use them on my regular guest appearance on a television
room so there was no separation between her work and
cooking show and on my web site.’
home life.
Annette is also interviewed weekly on radio and is
Today, Annette runs a highly successful online
featured in columns in newspapers and magazines. She
cookbook business, and considers herself to be one of
also does in-store promotions. ‘My approach works,’
the most successful self-published authors in Australia.
she says. ‘We have sold over one million copies of my
Annette’s early experience in getting financing for
her business is common among some home-based
‘I love working from home. I have the freedom to take
businesses. She could not, for example, obtain a bank
long or short lunch breaks. When it’s quiet, we relax or
loan without putting it in her husband’s name since the
catch up on chores. And we don’t spend time travelling to
bank considered her to be unemployed.
and from work which is great since time management is
‘When I learned that, I borrowed start-up capital from
my husband’s family, which meant no set-up costs and
no interest charges,’ she says.
Six months later Annette repaid her relatives and has
since grown her publishing business to such an extent
vital to running a successful home-based business,’ says
Keeping the award-winning, multi-million dollar
business at home has proved to be the correct decision.
And on advice to potential home-based business
that her husband was able to leave his job to work with
operators? ‘You need discipline to be self-driven when
Symply Too Good and share the care of their three
it comes to working from home. You waste a lot of time
if you get side-tracked. You need to be clear on your
Annette has outsourced the distribution of her books
and relies on innovative, low-cost ways to market them.
council’s rulings on home-based businesses. And you
need to avoid working on Sundays.’ H
Adapted from a case study in ‘Working from Home: The Growing Trend”
Yarra City Council - Ordinary Council Meeting Minutes - 16 February 2010
Minutes Page 613
in Western Australia, between June 2001 and June 2003,
the number of home-based businesses grew by 6.8 per
cent.6 It is also important to note that the ABS cautions
about the use of this data as an accurate measure
of growth in the number of small and home-based
businesses. This is because the figures are based on
independent household survey responses and their main
objective is to measure the characteristics of businesses
Growth of home-based businesses compared
and how they have changed over time rather than
to small businesses overall
changes in number.
The challenge of being home-based
Home-based businesses are almost without exception
small businesses and therefore face similar issues to that
presents its own set of unique challenges.
One such challenge is that home-based businesses
are not often seen as legitimate. There is a perception
that because the sector comprises predominantly nonemploying businesses it is not representative of the
business sector. This perception is reinforced because
Number of Businesses
sector. Nevertheless, operating a business from home
many home-based business operators choose to remain
invisible to local governments. They often perceive
that councils are opposed to, or disinterested in, their
activities and are sceptical about whether councils
can assist. This makes it difficult for governments to
Small Business
Home Based Business
understand and effectively respond to the needs of the
Source: ABS, Characteristics of Small Business 2003, Cat No 8127.0.
Isolation is one of the greatest challenges facing
many home-based businesses and often results in
these businesses being disproportionately affected
by problems such as accessing business advice and
information, finance, training, and government services.
Although the sector is made up of nearly 800,000
businesses, it has limited capacity to voice concerns and
issues to governments. Only a few representative bodies
or associations represent the interests of home-based
Compliance with local government regulations also
present challenges for those wanting to start, or grow,
a home-based business. Traditional planning schemes
may not always recognise the home-based business
phenomena. Regulations vary from one local government
jurisdiction to another and often appear to be arbitrary.
6 ABS, Characteristics of Small Business 2003, Cat No 8127.0.
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Photograph: Greg Keating, Keating Photography
Twenty-three year old Louisa Wood’s story proves that young
people with quality ideas can excel
Louisa established her award-winning home-based
schools, TAFEs, and other organisations such as the
business, Get Positive Productions, to create products
Perth Area Consultative Committee and the Trigg Surf
that would provide students with the tools to set and
achieve goals; organise their lives; and develop their selfesteem and confidence.
The business now employs 10 contractors (primarily
working from their homes) who produce the diaries,
The business produces customised student
diaries, known as My DiaryTM. Louisa spent two years
researching and preparing the material for the product
before establishing her business in 2000.
Each diary contains useful information and tips on
goal setting, studying and job seeking. ‘My DiaryTM
speaks to students in their own language and the diaries
including a graphic designer, a typesetter and a book
In her first year, Louisa sold 10,000 diaries and by
2003, had increased sales to 70,000. She plans to sell
120,000 diaries in 2004, and is looking to expand her
operations into Queensland.
Louisa has been involved in the Small Business
are customised for individual schools,’ says Louisa. ‘This
Development Corporation’s B-Generation Network youth
allows schools to include personalised information such
entrepreneurship initiative, which helped her develop
as logos and classroom maps, and student artworks.’
her business skills and apply for government grants and
Louisa overcame a number of early setbacks,
including some production and legal issues, before
beginning to sell My DiaryTM to primary schools, high
access program funding.
Louisa has won a number of national and state
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In some instances they fail to distinguish between home-
innovative idea or service. The size, flexibility and
based businesses that impact on the amenity of an area
responsiveness of home-based businesses make
and those that do not. While some jurisdictions recognise
them well placed to meet the growing demand for
that the operation of a home-based business is a right of
a resident, provided the business operates within a set
of standards, these standards also appear to be arbitrary
by increasing the market for business services and
and can restrict the operations of a business and the
products. These businesses are consumers as well as
livelihood of an operator.
suppliers of goods and services. They spend money
In addition, some local governments discourage the
in the community when they buy business services
start-up of home-based businesses in their local planning
and products, or, contract work to others. This, in
schemes. The response of some home-based business
turn, supports local employment and stimulates
operators is to ignore council regulations, running the risk
economic growth within the region.
of being shut down if a resident or competitor complains.
Indeed, occupation registration figures reveal that the
Home-based businesses stimulate the local economy
A vibrant home-based business sector can encourage
the provision of business infrastructure (such as
number of businesses operating from or at home is
broadband) and professional services (accountants,
greatly understated.
lawyers etc) as the local demand for business and
What benefits can home-based
businesses bring to local communities?
telecommunication services increases. This makes
the provision of these services more commercially
It is becoming evident that where local governments
viable and consequently more likely to be available to
adopt polices and regulation that support home-based
the larger community.
businesses, the benefits to communities are widespread.
For economic and social development to be effective,
local governments should make the effort to retain
Social Benefits:
A vibrant home-based business sector helps to avoid
existing businesses, expand current businesses and
dormitory suburbs. These businesses can enhance
encourage entrepreneurial growth. Communities that
the diversity of the local business community, improve
work together to create a climate favourable to home-
the vitality of the local area, and build a stronger
based businesses focus on creating support programs
local community. This can positively influence local
and opportunities for business and education training.
residents’ sense of belonging and participation in
When supported, home-based businesses can grow
community life.
strong and provide economic, social and environmental
benefits in return. These benefits are outlined below.
the safety and security of neighbourhoods. By
Economic Benefits:
bringing people and activity back to suburbs which
have traditionally been dormant during normal work
Home-based businesses have the potential to
hours, the need for costly security measures and
increase the disposable income of a community by
patrols is reduced. Home-based businesses create
creating employment opportunities. In particular,
natural surveillance and decrease the opportunity
home-based-businesses can provide self employment
for crime and anti social behaviour in the immediate
opportunities for people who find traditional
employment unsuitable. These people may include
retirees, those with family commitments or people
An environment supportive of home-based
businesses provides residents with an opportunity
with disabilities.
In particular home-based businesses can improve
to balance family commitments and lifestyle choices
A supportive environment can encourage innovation
with meaningful employment.
and the establishment of new businesses by providing
a low cost opportunity to ‘test the water’ with an
Where local government authorities adopt a
supportive approach to home-based businesses,
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Photo courtesy of Barbara Campbell
Photo courtesy of Barabra Campbell
A compelling need to spend more quality time with her two teenagers, for whom she
has sole responsibility, drove Barbara Campbell to leave her 15-hour-a-day job at a
Canberra City Law firm to start her own home-based business.
Barbara’s change in direction led her to establish
will remain working from her home-based business
Campbell & Co in October 2000.
with regular and daily involvement in the commercial
Campbell & Co employs a part-time lawyer, meeting
the needs of country clients and working in the growing
Barbara is a passionate advocate for home-based
conveyancing area, as well as a full-time lawyer and two
businesses and flexible work practices for many reasons.
administrative and legal assistants. When there is work
She believes, for example, that home-based businesses
overflow a home-based legal secretary works off site. All
and telecommuting provide quality parenting for ‘latch-
staff are encouraged to put family needs first.
key children’ and take full advantage of the family
Barbara believes there are many advantages to
running a business from home. Clients prefer her
suburban location for its no-fuss, free parking, and staff
home—which is empty for most of the week—as a
valuable resource.
Barbara’s efforts were rewarded at the 2002 Telstra
enjoy the convenient location, flexible working hours and
ACT Business Women’s Awards where she won the
the option they also have to work from their own homes.
Business Owner award. She was also a National Finalist.
However, Barbara says it is vital to provide a
Barbara’s case outlines that having the self-discipline
professional service. ‘Whether you work on your own or
to separate work and home lives and professional
have several employees you need to set up your office in
business practices and ethics means a home-based
the same way you would an office in the city.’
business is really just a small business that can greatly
Campbell & Co is growing to such an extent that
enhance the quality of week-day life in the suburbs. H
local commercial offices will have to be opened this year.
However, Barbara and her dedicated personal assistant
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the business sector and local government can work
collaboratively to build stronger communities.
Environmental Benefit
In 2003, the Noosa Shire established the Economic
Strategies and Innovations Unit – created to heighten
the profile of local economic issues and to support
The high rate of population growth in some urban
business growth and development opportunities
areas reinforces the need for ecologically sustainable
– collected substantial primary data on the Shire’s
urban development. Home-based businesses can be
business sector.
an environmentally friendly alternative to centralised
Survey results highlighted the diversity of the local
commercial development. Working from home, and
home-based business sector and its contribution
decentralised demand for business support, not only
to Noosa’s economy. Data on the demographic
reduces the demand for public transport, extensive
characteristics, scale, industry representation,
road networks and parking facilities but also uses less
structure, emerging needs, and aspirations of
energy and generates less pollution.
this sector will provide valuable information for
policy decision-making with respect to potential
Regional Benefit
Noosa Shire Council Research
business development and support opportunities,
From a regional perspective, home-based businesses
and strategies for engaging home-based business
provide services and products that would otherwise
operators in consultation on local regulatory
not be available to smaller communities. This is
proposals. The data will help ensure existing and
because home-based businesses are better placed
future business support services offered by the
to serve markets that are unprofitable or uninteresting
Council are client driven.
to larger firms. This, together with the employment
The Survey has also proven to be a successful
and income generation capacity of home-based
feedback mechanism for identifying unique
businesses, makes the sector important to the long
challenges and issues confronting Noosa’s home-
term viability of regional communities.
based businesses, including preferred methods of
What are local governments doing?
Local levels of government7 regulatory and policy
measures have the potential to impact on the viability
and growth of home-based businesses7. Recognising
that supporting and nurturing these businesses can add
to the economic and social growth of a local area, some
councils promote the sector by introducing planning
and economic development strategies, whilst other
councils are working to reduce the regulatory burden on
this sector. These councils accept that small businesses
can operate from residential premises without adversely
impacting on local amenities. They aim to create a
competitive, diversified local economic environment with
a strong home-based business sector to promote wealth
generation and employment for local residents and
local government assistance.
advances, particularly in the area of information
technology and communication, and the trend towards
outsourcing, changing work habits and a growth in
service industries, means an increasing number of homebased businesses make good neighbours.
There is still potential, however, for some businesses,
such as manufacturing ones, to impact on neighbours.
To minimize this risk, a number of councils have put in
place strategies. For example, some require potential
home-based business operators to have the consent of
their neighbours prior to applying for approval to operate
from home and this consent is an important consideration
in granting approval. Others work with home-based
business operators to ensure they comply with planning
rules, with one council issuing compliance certificates
In regulating home-based businesses, local councils
need to balance economic development with planning,
environmental and social considerations. Technological
to businesses that conform. These certificates provide a
level of certainty to the home-based operator and reduce
the likelihood of complaints by neighbours.
7 In the Northern Territory the home-based business regulatory environment is still evolving.
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Tim Skilton
Tim Skilton proves a backyard hobby can become a thriving and highly satisfying
business opportunity.
Tim Skilton is a multi-award winning master
Tim’s business operates from home without any
woodcraftsman who operates his wood turning and
inconvenience to his neighbours. In fact his neighbours
equipment business from a workshop at his home.
suggest that having a home-based business in close
Situated at Hope Valley, a suburb in north east
proximity is good security—it means there is activity
Adelaide, Tim is one of more than 3,500 home-based
in the area during the day when they are at work.
businesses operating in the area.
Furthermore, Tim’s workshop is sound insulated
As a crafter of wood, Tim produces functional and
artistic pieces. He also designs and manufactures a
unique set of abrasive products which are used by other
minimising the effects of the machinery noise on his
Tim is a strong community person who is generous
wood artists and which Tim now successfully exports to
with his time and is known to allow interested local
Canada, Europe and the USA
residents to watch him create his works.
Although a home-based business, Tim turns over tens
The quality of his work has been recognised by the
of thousands of dollars each year. He is well regarded in
local council which has purchased some of Tim’s pieces
the industry and since opening in 1990 has seen sales
as gifts for visiting delegations from overseas.
increase by 450 per cent. His business is set to continue
to grow.
Tim believes working from home enables him to have
a better work/life balance and pursue his woodworking
Tim’s home-based business grew out of a desire for
a life style change and the need to deal with a hobby that
passion while generating income and meet interesting
people. ‘It’s a great quality of life,’ he says. H
was taking up too much time. He realised that working
from home would allow him to establish a business
without major start-up costs—he does not pay for
commercial premises and his major utility costs are not
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A number of councils have incorporated provisions
Maroondah HomeBiz
and support measures for home-based businesses into
Supported by the City of Maroondah
their broader economic development strategies. Others
Maroondah Homebiz is a non-profit support
have introduced dedicated home-based business policies
network formed to foster development and
and guidelines to ensure consistency and transparency
growth of home-based businesses in the City
in applying local regulations affecting home-based
of Maroondah, in Melbourne’s east. It brings
businesses. Increasingly, local councils provide tailored
together local operators of a wide range of new and
services for these businesses and seek ways to reduce
established home-base businesses. The network
the impact of local government regulations. A number of
creates networking opportunities, provides access
these initiatives are outlined below.
to information, facilitates training and professional
Facilitation of networks
development, and provides forums for discussion
Networks provide opportunities to share ideas, benefit
from peer support and overcome the isolation of
operating a business from home. Some networks go
further and provide joint tendering opportunities and
alliances. A number of networks have been established
with the help of a local council. Councils have allowed
facilities to be used for meetings, provided promotional
assistance and/or financial support.
to encourage professionalism,
Maroondah Homebiz issues regular newsletters
online. Meetings are held monthly, but seminars,
workshops, social and networking events are also
regularly held.
Maroondah Homebiz was established with the
financial and administrative support of the city. It
continues to receive some funding support and is
free to use the council’s facilities. Homebiz is now
Information sources
fully incorporated and managed by a committee
Business information kits guide home-based business
that is elected annually.
owners, or those thinking about starting a home-based
business, through the maze of information available
on running a business from home. Many of the kits are
available online. Typically, the kits and other information
sources explain the rules and regulations that govern
operating a business from home, and provide practical
information about running businesses.
Many local councils maintain a database of registered
home-based businesses to circulate information about
events and workshops. Others employ a dedicated
together businesses, training opportunities and business
support agencies. It was developed by the Chisholm
Institute in partnership with the City of Casey and is a
virtual campus which offers certified training on line.
Participants can share ideas and experiences, provide
information about their businesses and participate in
formal training programs within their own time constraints
and limitations.
person to work with, and support home-based
Planning initiatives
businesess, including helping operators with approval
Innovative planning initiatives are used by some local
councils to promote the economic development of
Training initiatives
the local home-based business sector. One example
One issue facing home-based business operators is
accessing quality training that does not require long
absences from the business. Mentoring programs provide
access to experienced facilitators and can help operators
develop their business through self mentoring and group
business coaching.
The Home-based Business Learning Community
is a State government supported initiative that brings
is the introduction of broadband strategies for new
residential developments. Councils have worked with
land developers and regional stakeholders to improve
broadband accessibility, availability and affordability and
to develop telecommunications solutions for home-based
Some local authorities have incorporated home
industry zones into their town planning. One authority,
for example, has established larger land allotments
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Photo courtesy of Cameron Clarke
Cachet Promotional
Cameron Clarke took a leap of faith when he left the Australian Army after a 20-year
career in telecommunications.
Cameron was unsure what career path to follow, but he
developer over a friendly chat and a cup of coffee on the
knew he wanted to run his own business.
day,’ says Cameron.
‘I always wanted to be my own boss, but deciding
Using state-of-the-art printing equipment, Cameron
what direction life would take involved a lot of soul
runs Cachet Promotional Printing from his home, which
searching,’ says Cameron.
keeps operating costs to a minimum. It also enables him
After months of research, including scouring
businesses-for-sale publications, Cameron established
to spend more time with his family.
‘I love the flexibility of working from home,’ he says.
a business in promotional merchandising. Cachet
‘During my years in the army I spent a great deal of time
Promotional Printing was born.
away from my family so a lifestyle change was a major
Everything about this business is positive, Cameron
says: ‘I help people promote their business to become
successful and that is very rewarding.’
‘People love freebies and I enjoy being the person
responsible for that. My clients’ successes positively
consideration in deciding to establish my own business.’
Cameron says 20 years of army training has given him
the discipline required to run a business from home, and
his keen desire to succeed is a driving force.
‘I’m excited about the future of this business,’
reflect on my business so the more I help them, the more
he says. ‘Promotional products are an underutilised
successful my business becomes.’
marketing strategy, particularly for small-to-medium-
Since its launch in July 2003, Cachet Promotional
Printing has enjoyed a steady increase in sales without
the need for paid advertising.
‘I prefer to market rather than advertise my business,’
sized businesses, which I find surprising. They truly are
effective tools that any organisation can benefit from.’
Cameron’s diverse range of clients—from plumbers to
school principals—agree with his sentiments. Much of his
says Cameron. ‘Using the services of my local community
business is generated from word-of-mouth, which keeps
and networking with local businesses is proving far more
Cameron extremely busy.
valuable. I’m fortunate to live in an area where the local
council is proactive in promoting local business.’
‘Recently, I attended a Business-for-Business
‘Knowing that my clients are telling others about my
service is a great feeling,’ he says. ‘I can honestly say
I love going to work. I meet new people and have the
networking function sponsored by the City of Whittlesea,
satisfaction of seeing their businesses become more
north of Melbourne’s CBD. The seminar was invaluable
successful through my input. It doesn’t get any better
and I even picked up the business of a large local
than that.’ H
Yarra City Council - Ordinary Council Meeting Minutes - 16 February 2010
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2Cities Internet Gateway
groups develop and deliver services for home-based
The 2Cities Internet Gateway project is a joint venture
businesses in their area. Other local councils facilitate the
between the Cities of Wanneroo and Joondalup,
transition from home-based businesses to commercial
Edith Cowan University, and the Wanneroo and
premises by supporting the operations of business
Joondalup Business Associations. The 2Cities
web site is a single point of entry to all businesses,
Consultative forums
community groups and community services within
the region. A major component of 2Cities Internet
Gateway is a Regional Electronic Marketplace which
allows local small-to-medium businesses to supply
and purchase within the region.
Given the growing significance of home-based
businesses, governments need to consider the ways
to harness the potential of the sector. A number of
jurisdictions have hosted consultative forums to provide
opportunities for operators and relevant stakeholders to
raise issues.
within these zones to accommodate small-scale home
industries and businesses of a commercial nature. Home
industry zones usually contain flexible planning policies to
support the establishment of larger sheds, use of larger
vehicles and storage areas.
For example, the Western Australian Small Business
Development Corporation hosted the first major homebased business forum, Charting the Future, in February
2003. The forum brought together representatives
from home-based businesses, all levels of government
and interested stakeholders to share information and
Regulatory initiatives
Some home-based business regulations do not recognise
and/or understand the low impact some businesses have
on the local amenity. Many home-based businesses find
that rules can unnecessarily restrict their growth potential
and/or viability. Examples include rules about the types of
learn from the experience of established home-based
The Australian Government held a national homebased business summit in Canberra in March 2003 which
brought together representatives from federal and state
and territory governments, home-based operators, and
businesses allowed to operate from home, the maximum
floor space a business can occupy, employee numbers,
the placement and size of signage, parking conditions,
and hours of operation.
Recognising that some home-based businesses have
The City of Wanneroo’s
Employment Policy
The City of Wanneroo’s primary economic
minimal impact on their environment, a number of local
development goal is to decrease the number of
councils have adopted flexible regulatory frameworks to
people having to travel out of the region to access
allow small-scale, low-impact businesses to operate from
employment opportunities.
home without the need for local government approval.
The city’s Employment Policy requires
In Victoria and South Australia this ‘right’ is set out in
proponents of any large-scale residential
state planning legislation. To help potential operators
development to prepare a strategy to encourage
decide whether council approval is required, a number
local employment self-sufficiency and maximise
of councils have developed user friendly starter kits
resultant local containment of the workforce. The
which enable potential operators to self assess whether
city works with land developers and other regional
permission is needed.
stakeholders to improve broadband accessibility,
Business centres and incubators
availability and affordability, and to develop
telecommunications solutions for home-based
Rather than directly supporting home-based businesses,
businesses. Land developers are also required to
some local councils provide economic development
support home-based businesses by offering virtual
funding to support local initiatives by community groups
incubator services, including time share office
such as business centres and local networks. These
space in main streets.
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Minutes Page 622
The Home Based Business Reach
Out Program
The Home Based Business Reach Out Program is a
joint initiative with the cities of Swan, Wanneroo and
Joondalup, Edith Cowan University, and AusIndustry.
Under the program 20 to 25 home-based businesses
from each local government area participate in a fullyear intensive training course to develop their business
sector. While local governments have an important role
to play in promoting the positive aspects of home-based
businesses and helping them grow and succeed—for
example in approvals, planning and building use—it is
important for other sectors to consider the needs of
home-based businesses when designing and delivering
services, including in the areas of telecommunications,
business equipment and insurance.
skills. With expert guidance from a professional
facilitator, the group meets once every two months
For local governments, in particular, there is significant
to share experiences, learn new skills and self
opportunity to enhance local wealth through appropriate
mentor. Each city provides funding for the business
regulations and to introduce local business and economic
representatives from their region to attend. Two public
development policies to support the home-based
expos are also held throughout the year to showcase
business sector. By introducing practices that both
achievements of reach-out participants.
facilitate open dialogue with home-based businesses and
encourage collaboration with external network providers
service providers to discuss issues affecting the growth
and prosperity of the sector. As a result of the summit,
the Australian Government sponsored a national series
of seminars which focused on providing home-based
business operators with practical information about
running their business and giving representatives of
and other levels of government, local authorities are in a
position to better understand and respond to the sector’s
needs. Through these partnerships, the wider community
will benefit even more from the economic and social
gains that a vibrant home-based business sector can
bring to a local community.
the sector an opportunity to showcase successes and
have a say on issues affecting them. Local government
regulations were raised at several seminars with one
participant arguing for the use of performance-based
standards to determine impact on residential amenity.
In some areas the local government has also held
consultation forums. The Adelaide Metropolitan Area
Consultative Committee, for example, hosted a series
of consultative workshops in late 2003 to examine the
relationships between many local government bodies
and the home-based business sector. The workshops
confirmed that councils tend not to know a great deal
about home-based businesses, partly because operators
are reluctant to make their activities known to councils.
In Victoria, the City of Casey hosted a conference in
February 2004 which allowed local councils to share
their knowledge and experiences about the best way
to support home-based businesses. The conference
identified a number of issues, including the need to
review planning regulations.
One outcome that crossed these consultative
forums is that home-based businesses deserve to be
recognised as an important part of the small business
Yarra City Council - Ordinary Council Meeting Minutes - 16 February 2010
Minutes Page 623
The City of Hawkesbury is the largest local government in
services, manufacturing, and retailing.
The city’s flexible and proactive policies and
strategies encourage the establishment and growth
the Sydney Metropolitan area, located in the Hawkesbury
of home-based businesses. As part of its Economic
River Valleys. In close partnership with the Hawkesbury
Environment Strategy, the city’s Home Based Business
Economic Development Advisory Committee and the
Policy covers the assessment of home-based business
Hawkesbury City Chamber of Commerce, the council
applications and establishes the city’s approval and
initiated the Hawkesbury Home Based Business
complaints process. The policy is based on the principle
Connection project. Initially government funded, the
project has since been taken up by the Hawkesbury City
Chamber of Commerce.
that home-based business is a legitimate form of
business which benefits the local community and creates
sustainable employment opportunities.
The city’s Town Planning Scheme allows small-scale,
The Hawkesbury Home Based Business Connection
low-impact businesses to operate from home in urban
encourages home-based businesses to start up and
and rural areas. The scheme sets out whether a business
supports them to grow and provide local employment.
is classified as Home Occupation (‘As of Right’, which
The project also provides local businesses with
does not require Council approval) or a Home Business
information they need to operate, through inexpensive
(which does require Council approval) and outlines the
workshops, networks and meetings and works to lift
the profile and awareness of home-based businesses.
With assistance from the City Council the project also
activities permitted under each classification.
The city’s user-friendly Working from Home booklet
assists home-based business operators to self-assess
operations and apply for approval. The booklet also
publishes online information, including a directory of
provides details on who to contact for business advice
home-based businesses.
and assistance. In addition, the city’s web site has
The Connection meets monthly to network and
generate business between members, while providing
a social outlet to reduce the isolation home-based
businesses often experience.
In Hawkesbury, only home-based businesses with
the potential to impact on the local amenity of the
extensive information on business assistance and links to
industry associations and local business organisations.
The city also has strategies to support home-based
businesses that cover:
Grants—the city provides economic development
funding to support local initiatives by community groups.
Networks—the city regularly hosts networking
neighbourhood are required to seek council approval. To
functions for home-based businesses in partnership with
help home based businesses decide whether approval
other organisations.
is required the council has posted its planning rules on
Mentoring Programs—the city supports the Swan
its web site. They are easy-to-understand and include a
Region’s Business Enterprise Centre, which in turn runs
four-step plan on how to apply for council approval. The
the Springboard home-based business growth program.
council also offers free consultations with town planners
so potential problems can be resolved early.
Business Incubators—the city helps facilitate the
transition from home-based business to commercial
premises by providing loans and guarantees to three
independent business incubators.
The City of Swan is the largest metropolitan local
registered home-based businesses, which is used to
government area and one of the fastest growing urban
circulate information about events and workshops. The
corridors in Perth. Home to more than 85,000 people,
city also promotes home-based business initiatives
the city has an estimated 2,000 home-based businesses
through local media and partner organisations,
operating in a diverse range of industries, including in
including Business Enterprise Centres and Chambers of
strong economic sectors such as property and business
Communication—the city maintains a database of
Yarra City Council - Ordinary Council Meeting Minutes - 16 February 2010
Minutes Page 624
The City of Casey in the south east region of Melbourne
The Marion City Council, located 10 kilometres southwest
is a well recognised leader when it comes to supporting
of Adelaide, conducted a survey in 2001 on home-based
and helping home based businesses to thrive. Casey
business, to identify the sector’s concerns and growth
has been working with the sector since the adoption of
its home based business strategy in 1999 and already
By consulting directly with home-based business
has some 650 home based businesses on its database, a
operators, the council discovered that some local regulations
number which continues to grow.
were having a negative impact. For example, home-based
But this wasn’t always the case. Prior to 1998, Casey
was similar to most councils in that its knowledge of
business owners believed their growth was being stifled by
council’s restrictions on employee numbers and floor space.
To address these concerns the restriction on ‘assistance
home based businesses was limited. Then in 1998 the
council initiated a study into home based businesses in
by no more than one person who is not a resident’ was
the region to look at ways of helping the sector maximise
altered to ‘employ[ing] no more than one person on site.’
its growth and employment potential.
This improvement reflected the reality that modern business
The study found that while diverse, home based
practices and communication technologies allow sub-
businesses have common business development needs.
contracting and employment by people who do not work on
Opportunities for local councils to assist home based
site. The floor area restriction was increased from 30 to 50
businesses were found to lie in a review of regulations for
square metres or 30 per cent of the dwelling, whichever is
home based businesses, better communication with the
Although it is too early to assess the impact of these
sector and an opportunity to facilitate services needed
by these businesses. Some of the initiatives that the City
changes, results to date show no reduction in residential
of Casey has since undertaken to support home based
The City of Marion believes the growth of home-
businesses in the municipality include:
Facilitating the establishment of a local micro
based businesses contributes significantly to sustainable
business network to provide support, networking,
economic development, with an estimated 16 per cent of the
seminars, marketing and mentoring opportunities.
council’s workforce working from or at home. The council
Developing an online manual for home based
businesses, covering such areas as getting started,
finances, promotion, technology, employment,
development and government services.
appreciates that this supports lifestyle choices and provides
opportunities for entrepreneurship, to be one’s own boss and
to balance work and family commitments. The council also
believes that home-based businesses have a low impact on
the environment. Instead, these businesses contribute in a
Creating, in partnership with the Chisholm Institute, an
positive way to the security of residential areas by creating
online Learning Community which allows home based
day-time activity.
businesses to study towards a formal qualification or
the council has adopted other strategies to support these
Developing an online directory of home based
businesses, including:
businesses in Casey
posting resources for home-based businesses on the
council’s web site
Raising the profile of the sector with government
by hosting a home based business best practice
delivery of enterprise development activities through the
local Business Enterprise Centre
Employing a business development officer to work
with and support home based businesses in Casey.
As well as amending home-based business regulations,
attend virtual conferences.
promoting home-based business owners in the council’s
developing a Best Practice Guide in Supporting Home
Based Business.
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This checklist asks a number of questions to help local government authorities think about
the way they interact with the home-based business sector. Together with the information
and case studies provided in this paper, it provides guidance about how local government
authorities can facilitate the growth of home-based businesses in their jurisdiction.
Understanding the Sector
Planning Practices
1. Do we have a mechanism for collecting or accessing
5. Do we have “as of right” provisions for home-based
information about the number of, and characteristics
businesses, for example, for home-based businesses
of, home-based businesses in our area?
that do not negatively impact on the local amenity of
2. Have we identified and addressed the issues which
impact on these home-based businesses, for
example, isolation and lack of exposure?
Economic and Business Development
3. Do we have an economic strategy or development
the area?*
6. Do we provide guidance about whether permits or
development applications are required and assist
home-based business operators understand and
comply with these procedures?
7. Are the rules regulating home-based businesses
plan to encourage the growth of home-based
outcomes-based rather than prescriptive and
4. Have we considered the following initiatives to
8. Do we have specific rules or a dedicated policy to
support home-based businesses:
govern the operation of home-based businesses? If
a dedicated staff member or team?
so, are these:
assistance to community based groups, such as
example, available in a booklet or on our website?
home-based business networks or small business
flexible in terms of not overly restricting the
operations of home-based businesses?
targeted business assistance, such as specialised
training sessions or information kits on how to
easily accessible to interested parties, for
developed in consultation with the home-based
start-up or expand their business?
business sector to ensure clarity and consistency
other promotional activities to raise the profile of
of interpretation ?
home-based businesses, such as an on-line local
business register or business expos?
9. Do we have an appeal/complaints mechanism in
relation to our home-based business decisions/
* some State governments have “as of right” provisions set out
in their planning legislation
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Yarra City Council - Ordinary Council Meeting Minutes - 16 February 2010