Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Home Work Can Be Costly Home Office Is Convenient but Financing May Be Difficult

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Home Work Can Be Costly Home Office Is Convenient but Financing May Be Difficult

Article excerpt

For more and more people, "Home, Sweet Home" is becoming "Home, Suite Home."

Traditionally, working out of one's home was an option for part-time insurance agents, retirees, overworked corporate white-collar executives and, more recently, "telecommuters."

But the number of home workers has grown dramatically in recent years: From 24.4 million at-home workers in 1988 to 43.2 million in 1994.

And home businesses now include doctors, computer programmers, tax accountants, newspaper publishers, home-repair specialists and a whole host of other service-oriented firms.

Home-based workers warn that "in-house" is not easy. Just ask Nancy Nix-Rice and her husband Richard Rice. They operate two family businesses out of their home in Kirkwood.

Nix-Rice's First Impressions is a 7-year-old firm that does workshops on professional appearance, nonverbal communication and business etiquette.

Her husband runs Webster-Kirkwood Painting Co., a 13-person painting and home contracting firm covering west St. Louis County.

Finding capital for a start-up firm was difficult, Nix-Rice said. So, like many, she used high-interest plastic.

"I spent about $5,000 in start-up by using my credit cards," Nix-Rice said. "But, fortunately, I was able to pay it off quickly."

George R. Cotton Sr. agrees funding is difficult. He is a motivational speaker and trainer from University City.

"The first problem is financing. Where will you get the money to fund this effort?" said Cotton.

"How long can I wait for my check?" Cotton said. "I had to wait 16 months before I made a profit. I was breaking even; so I was paying my bills. But you have to be realistic. How long can you go (without a paycheck)? Two months? Five months? Longer?"

Steve Peirce has a suggestion - keep your old job for a while.

"My company was incorporated in August 1992, but I did not go full-time until April 1993," Peirce said.

Peirce kept his full-time insurance job while starting up Ribus Inc. In cooperation with food scientist Neal Hammond, the company produces Nu-Rice, a natural food ingredient made from rice bran. He was cited by Entrepreneur magazine last fall as one of America's leading young entrepreneurs.

Although Peirce now has sales of $3 million a year, he still works out of his home - and the street.

"I run my office out of my briefcase. It doesn't matter whether I run my office out of my home or out of One Metropolitan Square," Peirce said. "I have a color lap-top computer - which is great for producing color slides and one-on-one presentations."

He also has an upscale fax machine and printer.

Peirce, the Rices and Cotton are strong believers in making the investment in good computers and communications equipment.

"Make sure you buy a good fax machine and phone system," Nix-Rice said.

Between the Rices' businesses, the family has five phone lines running into the house with an average monthly cost of $400 to $450. …

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