By Kate Ramunni New Haven Register, Conn.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The life of a "solopreneur" who often works from home, alone can be very isolating. One Connecticut town is doing its part to support these solopreneurs. The Hamden Department of Economic and Community development is bringing together these business folks to exchange ideas and perhaps help one another. At the last meeting, topics included permits, advertising, marketing and financing.
For those who chose to go it alone, running a home-based business can be isolating. To combat that, the Hamden Department of Economic and Community Development has developed an industry sector "recognizing the value and potential of home-based businesses," according to Director Dale Kroop.
The "solopreneur" community is now recognized as the town's ninth industry sector, Kroop said. "Job growth comes significantly from small businesses," he said. "They have the potential to be the next generation of successful businesses."
The solopreneur works and runs their own business, usually out of their homes or in a small rented space. It's a part of the business community has grown over the years, Kroop said, and the town wants to support that growth. To that end, the department brought together a group of about 25 solopreneurs that represented a variety of businesses, including landscaping, financial services, law and counseling. The topic discussed included required permits, client advertising, marketing and financing and the valuation of personal property for tax purposes, Kroop said.
"We hope to take our initial meeting and develop an agenda for 2016 and beyond that will nurture the growth of the solopreneurs for years to come and take them to the next level of services," Kroop said.
"Essentially, I thought it would be good marketing exposure -- finding a new source of referrals," said Issiah Cooper, a business attorney specializing in financial transactional work. "The more people who know what you do and how you do it and what you provide, the more likely you are to get referrals. I've met some very interesting people and I've learned some things about the town."
He has lived in Hamden for about 21 years, Cooper said, and practiced in New Haven, Hartford and Wilton before starting to work from his Hamden home. "I haven't joined many organizations in Hamden and I thought this was an opportunity to get to know some of the business community around me here," he said.
For Marjorie Clark, owner of Little Fish Web Designs, the group has provided a welcome networking opportunity.
"I'm involved because there is a segment of the business community that does what I do, and I've found that we share common threads in terms of marketing and business practises," she said. "It's a brain trust where you bring your experience and you help each other out. It's a community of home-based businesses where you have different problems but they're all very similar."
Small home-based businesses face different challenges than other small businesses that, though small, may have others working with them that helps lighten the load, she said.
"The scale is different than your typical small business," said Clark, who provides businesses with a Web presence, she said -- the website, plus everything that leads to it and from it, including social media, email marketing, public relations, video and directory listings.
"We don't have staff, we hire outside sources to take care of accounting and other things. It's just us and maybe a partner," she said. "Another small business of that size can help with whatever issues and be just a support system. It can be a very lonely place, working at home by yourself, so having a support system in place if you need them is a great resource."
In the meetings they have already had, there was "a lot of energy in the room," Clark said. "I think the greatest thing to come out of it is the way the chamber and the town are working together to build economic diversity and recognition -- to have recognized that there is a small but significant portion of the business community that doesn't fit the typical definition. We have a voice and we would like it to be heard."
For information about Hamden's Business Sector Program, contact Kroop at 203-287-7030, email him at [email protected], visit www.hamden-ct.com or visit the Economic and Community Development office at Hamden Government Center, 2750 Dixwell Ave.