Home Based Businesses Thrive on the Westside

Are you a home-based business in the West Portal/Westside area? These extraordinary entrepreneurs are invisible where they reside and work—yet their numbers and incredible reach, both locally and globally, are very disproportionate to their tiny size.

It is difficult to recognize that you, or your neighbor can well build and run a complex business at home that can generate millions of dollars in volume and returns to yourself and hence to the community! Most are too modest or unaware of the contribution their endeavors are generating.

Thanks to the information technology revolution, home based businesses mushroomed in the 1980s and 1990s. They now make up half of all U.S. small businesses and are its predominant form. Over 90 percent of home-based businesses are sole proprietorships. Over two-thirds of all sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations are home-based.

They are particularly important in San Francisco where businesses employing over 1000 have declined to only 12% of all private sector employment. Businesses employing less than 1000--private wage and salaried employment—only grew 6% The 70,000 San Francisco proprietorships represent 18% of all private sector jobs.

See if you or your neighbors fit some of the following descriptions and please become aware of your importance:

· They are listed as self employed or sole proprietorships and less often partnerships and corporations.

· Their place of operation may be their home or later, a small office.

· As many as four out of five have no city business license; their mailing address may well be other than their place of operation.

· Contracting with either local services or suppliers or off shoring—they outsource a myriad of complex business transactions sitting in the comfort of their homes. 

· Over 90 percent of home-based businesses have no employees

· They have total freedom of operation.

· They are freely distributed in all neighborhoods, rich and poor, which adds to the cultural and occupational diversity of their jurisdictions on the local level. (Few local jurisdictions utilize the different types of residential zones as a means of varying zoning restrictions to reflect different densities and types of residential neighborhood.)

· Wherever they reside, from one-room apartments to mansions, they are primarily citizens of their local communities. Therefore, they are taxpayers, patrons of local businesses and services, property owners or renters, and heads of families.

· Those who work at home are in the position to frequent local businesses and services and observe local neighborhood conditions, schools, city services etc. Very often, they become active members of the neighborhood associations due to their availability and stake in the community.

West Portal is very fortunate to have their diversity and contributions to our local neighborhood. We certainly welcome your experiences and descriptions of your unique businesses. E-mail to fga1@sbcglobal.net

Dr. Florence Alberts, PhD, is a West Portal resident and a retired Professor of Economics at the San Francisco State University. She has written and presented papers and articles at academic symposiums at home and abroad. She has served as a Commissioner in the San Francisco Small Business Association and as a National Program Director of the US Small Business Association.

May 2009