Article

Home Sweet Office

Utah’s Women are Launching More and More Home Businesses

By Candace Little

August 9, 2013


In Utah, women and entrepre-neurialism go hand in hand. In fact, a sizeable chunk of the state’s micro-businesses are launched by women.

According to the most recent American Express OPEN report, Utah is one of the leading states for women-owned businesses at No. 7. However, these tend to be very small businesses, with no employees or very few employees. Many of these businesses are owned and run by stay-at-home moms looking for a way to contribute to their communities, earn extra income or explore a creative outlet.  

Many women are driven to create businesses out of a real need to support their families, says René Johnson, Power Zone Coaching CEO and president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) SLC-Utah chapter. While Johnson is excited to see an increase in women in leadership capacities, she knows these women face significant hurdles.

“Even though we have a wealth of resources, the biggest obstacle is being willing to seek after and ask for support, and not think that being a confident woman in business means you have to have all the answers,” Johnson says. “The more we embrace the power of collaboration, the more all women in business can step into roles of leading their goals and influencing the communities they serve.”

The business women included in the following Q&A open a window into the trends among women-owned businesses in the state. The Q&A participants include Samantha Kelly, owner, Kelly Arts Films; Amie Larsen, realtor at Exit Realty Success and owner of The LAR Team, LLC; and Kirsten Wright, owner and founder of the new iPhone app KID CHATTEROO and co-editor of TheCraftingChicks.com.

What are the pitfalls, challenges and benefits of operating a small business out of your home? How have you overcome those?

Kelly: Even though my family lives in a small, two-bedroom apartment, we haven’t come across many challenges in operating our business out of our home. Logistically, all we need is our computer and a small amount of storage room for our equipment and business supplies/documents. So if all our packaging materials are stored in a box behind our living room couch, so be it. So far, as long as we try to stay organized, we’re able to make it work.

Wright: One of the largest challenges with operating a business out of your home is compartmentalizing. When you are in your home, you wear many hats, just as a member of your family. When you are operating a business out of your home, you add those roles to your family roles. It can be hard to compartmentalize on both fronts and keep both roles in their proper places.  

How can you make sure your business really succeeds and generates income, rather than just limps along bringing in a few extra dollars each month?

Larsen:  In my area, I have branded myself as the neighborhood specialist. At first I had to “fake it ‘til I made it.” It started by selling one home in the area, and letting everyone know about it. I also started networking with the other businesses in the area and worked to help build up their business by creating a neighborhood newsletter in which we all advertise together. By helping support the other businesses, not only did it create a referral network for me, it also created consistent advertising for me, at little to no expense. We worked to support the neighborhood and provide value to the surrounding residents.

Now I get phone calls from people in the area saying, “I see your signs everywhere and I know that you are the expert. Can you help me?” Even though my signs aren’t the only ones in the neighborhood and they really aren’t everywhere, they are seeing my face everywhere in my newsletter, my signs, Facebook, the neighborhood events, schools, community events, et cetera. Also, I am actively prospecting face to face by going door to door in the area.

Wright: At some point, you really have to commit and admit that you have a job, whether it’s part-time or full-time. With that mindset, you can do all the things that a business with an office outside the home would do:  product development, running a lean operation, marketing, et cetera.

How do you ensure your home-based business is as professional and reputable as possible?

Kelly: From the beginning, it’s been important to us that we are as professional and reputable as possible. We want to generate not only high-quality films for our clients but also a high-quality experience for them as a whole. So everything from speedy email replies, beautiful packaging and a lightning-fast turnaround with our films becomes important to our business and our overall brand. One of the greatest resources we’ve found in striving to maintain a high standard of professionalism has been in reaching out to other professionals in the field whose work we admire.

Wright: There are many groups to join where you can network including local chamber of commerce groups, tech groups and other networking groups. I think one of the main things to make your home-based business stand out is a strong brand, where all your communication, logos and everything are strong and consistent and communicate your message. If you need to meet with clients, there are shared office spaces that can communicate a professional feel to your clients.  

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