No place like home
By Fay Easton - Operations director, Enterprise Hub Network
- Issue 2
Shropshire’s booming ‘back garden green economy’ brings wealth to the county and environmental savings
Home-based businesses, many of which are run from sheds in back gardens, will contribute millions to the county’s economy this year, and this economic sector is increasing year on year.
Can Homeworking Save the Planet?, a report sponsored by The Smith Institute, concluded ‘yes’. The ‘old’ industrial economy was over and the potential for new, lean, flexible working patterns and business models was upon us. Shropshire has embraced this new entrepreneurial economy and has long been known as the ‘capital of home working’ in the UK.
The county is an acknowledged ‘home business hotspot’. Indeed, the county secured two prestigious ‘Capital of Enterprise’ titles, acknowledging the potential for this style of new business to regenerate local economies while ‘saving the planet’ by associated reductions in carbon consumption.
Many ask whether ‘home business’ is a ‘lifestyle’ business sector, and again the answer is unexpected. The home business economy is a three-tier economy running through all turnover levels. In a recent national survey by homeworking site shedworking.co.uk for supermarket retailer Asda, it was found that many of the home-based entrepreneurs polled said that their turnover had been in the £100,000–£150,000 range in the past year, while 7.9 per cent said that it exceeded £200,000, with many at the higher end of the turnover bracket showing that substantial enterprises are trading from homes all over the UK.
Alongside the contribution to economic growth, the ‘green effect’ is also considerable: millions of barrels of oil are saved every day by business owners cutting the commute as many home-based business owners pursue their entrepreneurial dream.
With the value of the back-garden economy reaching an amazing £8 billion nationally, home-based businesses are now lending a whole new meaning to the term ‘home economics’.
The ‘industrial era’ is over and we should be questioning whether it is sustainable to plan for high-density urban living when we are entering an era in which fewer of us will need to go to work in the traditional sense? In particular, can we really afford the carbon costs not only of commuting but constructing and then fuelling workspaces and homes as two entirely separate buildings?
Common sense suggests that someone who owns and fuels two separate buildings – and commutes between them – is more likely to pollute than someone who combines their workspace and home in one premises. Having separate zones for homes (quiet, safe and clean) and workspaces (noisy, smelly, polluting) may have been necessary during the industrial era. But we are now in the era of broadband, the knowledge economy, iPhones, videoconferencing and online commerce. Today you can genuinely run a global business from your home.
And supplement this with visits to your local Hub where you can meet clients and work in a professional, productive environment whenever it suits.
In Shropshire, we have a vital new support system for home business operators – Telford Enterprise Hub – which can support hundreds of home business owners and provide them with registered business addresses, meeting and working space and a vital link to a collaborative and entrepreneurial community.