In a city the size of Powell River, the majority of businesses could be considered small, but one type of business growing rapidly and in need of support is home-based business, according to local business experts.
Powell River Chamber of Commerce manager Kim Miller confirmed more than 60 home-based businesses are already members of the local business organization.
“I’m not shocked,” said Miller. “I know we have a lot of home-based businesses. When we do the Powell River Chamber Commerce Business Awards we get tons of nominations for the home-based business category.”
While many home-based businesses remain unlicensed with City of Powell River, the chamber is encouraging owners to legitimize and come into the spotlight.
“A lot of home-based businesses prefer to remain below the radar,” said Linda Wegner, small business representative on the chamber board. “Although I can understand, to some extent, because their revenue stream can be so low or they look upon their businesses as hobbies. In a sense they cheat themselves out of the benefit of having a licensed business in the city.”
Wegner recently completed a report on home-based businesses in the city and found that, licensed or not, they are an integral and growing sector of local business. She said the nominal city licensing fee and membership cost for the chamber are small prices to pay to gain legitimacy throughout the community for a home-based business.
“I just want to encourage home-based businesses to do everything they can to get their businesses known in the community,” said Wegner. “If you want exposure to the local market, get out there and let your name be known. Come and join the chamber and take part in community events under the name of your home-based business.”
According to city economic development manager Scott Randolph, all businesses are encouraged to attain city licences, whether home-based or not. Randolph said the growing number of home-based businesses points to a strong local economy, just as large businesses do.
“It’s self-employment. They are generating revenues that help to pay for numerous things at the city, as well as contributing to the tax base,” said Randolph. “Having self-sustaining home-based business is as important a contributor to our economy as larger enterprise.”
Miller said the chamber is always willing to support home-based businesses owners to bring their ventures to the next level, including opening a storefront, if that is something they are planning.
“There are a whole variety of things we can help them with,” said Miller. “We can help them find commercial space and get them in contact with property owners, then there’s the networking and social events we do each month, but we can also help them with things such as medical plans and insurance plans if they need them.”
Powell River Women in Business is another local group that strives to offer a support network for all types of businesses, including home-based ones.
Events such as the upcoming Artisan and Entrepreneur Show hosted on Saturday, October 22, at Cranberry Seniors’ Centre, in association with the chamber of commerce, is just one example.
“We recognize that one of the biggest challenges home-based businesses face is not having a setting to showcase their products and/or services to potential customers,” said Powell River Women in Business president Leah Rourke. “The show was in response to that need and will provide a one-stop venue for many local home-based and small businesses.”
Trade fairs and business events provide home-based business owners with opportunities to step out of the home and into the eyes of customers.
“These types of events are really important for the community to get out and attend as well,” said Wegner, “to find out what home-based businesses are out there.”
Wegner has run a home-based business herself for the past 15 years, writing research material for industrial stockbrokers. She said the chamber of commerce treats home-based businesses with the same importance as any other business in Powell River.
“Obviously, they don’t have the same voice and clout as a larger employer, but I am voice for them on the chamber now, and that wasn’t there before,” said Wegner. “One of the things the chamber is looking at is changing some of their events so home-based owners can get to them. For example, a lot of mothers can’t get out to noon-hour meeting because of their kids, so we’re trying to adapt.”