I was going to quote all of Jim Blasingame’s recent newsletter article about National Home Business Week, but Anita Campbell has beat me to it, so I’ll just post an excert and let you read the rest on her site:
“Passing along Grand River Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, in the rainy, pre-dawn hours of June 4, 1896, neighbors would have witnessed a sight that at once would have seemed both normal and strange.
The strange part would be seeing one of the residents of this quiet neighborhood test-driving the gasoline-powered “quadracycle” he had built.
The normal part would be that this enterprise was taking place at the man’s residence.
For literally thousands of years prior to the 20th century, regardless of the chosen profession, most humans earned their living under the same roof where they did their living. Eventually, as much as anyone in history, our home-based car builder from Detroit changed where America went to work.
To leverage their dream of serving the burgeoning consumer economy, entrepreneurs like Henry Ford had to leave the house and build factories, offices and stores. And of course, all this corporate growth required the employment of millions to staff these operations.
Ultimately, and for most of the 20th century, working away from the home or farm became the norm in America. Indeed, home-based businesses actually became so rare as to be considered an oddity. And based on many community zoning ordinances, sometimes even illegal.
As the century of the major corporation — the 20th — evolved into the century of the entrepreneur — the 21st — two things converged to make operating a business from home not only socially acceptable once again, but as it had been for thousands of years, professionally sensible and practical.