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230,000 Home Business Davids take on Goliaths

230,000 Home Business Davids in New Zealand take on their Goliaths every day

There are over 230,000 Davids in New Zealand. And each of them bravely, and often successfully, is continually taking on their own Goliaths.

Few people realise that over two thirds of small businesses in New Zealand are home based. Their small size often means they are vulnerable to market forces, personal circumstances or competitive moves by larger businesses - however, they are also agile, entrepreneurial, courageous, determined and extremely resilient! Without them, our nation would grind quite literally to a halt. National Home Business Week celebrates these unsung heroes of our economy - New Zealand's business "Davids".

For many, working from home is a conscious lifestyle choice; for some it is the only employment option they have. Irrespective of their reasons for starting their own business, those who share their homes with their businesses face a variety of challenges. These include professional and social isolation, lack of credibility, lack of business skills (as opposed to "knowing their trade") and managing the inevitable income roller-coaster.

Home-based businesses cover a huge range of industries, with a strong bias towards service-based operations such as architects, lawyers, accountants, health professionals, web designers, copy writers, authors, artists and trades people - to name just a few. Many also operate in niche markets. Examples include water bed reconditioners, highly specialised engineers, chimney sweeps, specialist consultants, home-made dog biscuit bakers, organic baby food manufacturers and even illuminated dance floor suppliers.

Contrary to popular belief, overall there are slightly more men (53%) who operate home businesses than women (47%), although in reality there tend to be proportionally more men in the older age brackets and a slight skew towards women at the younger end of the demographic scale.

The home business sector contributes significantly to the New Zealand economy. While there are home businesses whose turnover is in the multi-million dollar bracket and about 5% for whom almost all their income is derived from exports, probably the biggest contribution is the fact that every one of these 230,000 plus people is providing employment at least for themselves and sometimes for one, two or more other people.

Home business is also often the spawning ground for bigger business. New Zealand success stories such as Navman, Pumpkin Patch, Les Floralies and Resene - not to mention a fistful of others - have all started from a spare room or garage. What future icons are currently being born in someone's basement or back yard?

Home business also plays an important role in the community. Not only do home businesses tend to serve those within their immediate vicinity, but in an era when both partners are usually engaged in income generating activity, home business operators help to keep a daytime community presence in suburban areas, which in turn helps prevent crime.
National Home Business Week (17 - 23 October 2004) has two main objectives: firstly, to raise the profile of the home business sector and secondly, to celebrate the entrepreneurship of those ordinary - and sometimes extra-ordinary - people who take responsibility for their own future, face risk and uncertainty, and make their very definite mark on the economy and their community.

A Home Business New Zealand initiative, now in its fourth year, the Week also encourages home businesses to overcome unique challenges such as invisibility and isolation by providing opportunities to network and to upskill themselves. More details and a full Calendar of Events is available on Home Business New Zealand's HomebizBuzz web site (

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