The tough economic times may be dealing hard blows on big business, but they are giving an auspicious start to many home-based businesses in the country.
The reasons are obvious. Doing business while staying at home requires much smaller startup costs; you don't have to pay a small fortune for a fancy office and the staffing and utilities to maintain it. And, of course, family members and others living in the household can be expected to help or pitch in for you anytime and on short notice--often without need to pay them hefty overtime or holiday compensation.
No wonder then that many startup entrepreneurs are finding home-based businesses a great way to supplement their income from their day jobs, and that not a few career-shifters are finding both psychic and financial fulfillment from running home-based enterprises.
Even more gratifying, a great many home-based businesses become the seed bed or takeoff point for bigger, more ambitious mainstream businesses, some of which blossom into multimillion-peso ventures even if they continue to be run at home.
Entrepreneur has put together the inspiring and highly instructive stories of 12 successful home-based businesses--ventures that are as diverse as their owners and their interests.
By Roderick Abad Photos by Jun Pinzon
In April 1996, husband-and-wife EJ and Eva Espiritu left the United States and came back to the Philippines, hoping to find work here as a ceramic engineer and marketing professional, respectively. Little did they know, however, that they would just end up adding to the country's increasing unemployment rate--what with the 1997 Asian financial crisis hitting economies in the region, including the Philippines, really hard.
"We realized we didn't have that much money to support ourselves in the long run, so we immediately took the business opportunity offered to us by a friend of my husband," recalls Eva. "It was to do subcontracting work for an exporter selling house ware and decor to Europe and elsewhere overseas. That was how we got started on a home-based pottery business--purely out of necessity."
In August of 1996, after the exporter lent them P125,000 in initial capital, the Espiritu couple started their small-scale enterprise in a rented house in Bacoor, Cavite. Calling it Cornerstone Ceramics, they registered it as a sole proprietorship. Then they bought a kiln and other baking equipment, contracted 12 workers, and made their garage double up as a makeshift production area for the ceramic components and earthenware needed by the exporter.
The production demand almost doubled in less than a year, so the Espiritus transferred their operations to a bigger place in Imus, Cavite, which became both their home-office and factory. But the growth of their ceramics business was short-lived. By 1998, due to the Asian economic crisis, orders started to decrease precipitously until the exporter couldn't place any more orders by 2000.
"That convinced us that we might die a silent death unless we did something," Eva recalls. "So we decided to develop our own product line and look for new buyers. Stoneware, which is a high-end form of ceramics, was then relatively unknown in the Philippines and wasn't available commercially yet. We saw its strong market potential so we decided to go into it."