Main Street on any street: Businesses making homes their offices
Though small communities often turn to main street for local businesses, many business owners have a different location — their street.
With technology and connectivity advancements, some area businesses are setting up shop at home, turning their houses into offices and meeting clients where they are. The U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy reported in 2016 that about 50 percent of businesses nationwide are home-based. Information on Wisconsin numbers was not immediately available from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, or the St. Croix or Pierce counties' economic development corporations.
Home-based businesses can be found in a variety of industries from event planning to health and wellness products,
For some the home is just the start, with their dreams aimed at a separate place to own someday. For others, their place is all they need.
Former nurse Christina (Simones) Feltes' Arbonne business started five years ago as an extra job to help pay for her upcoming wedding.
"I was working full-time as a nurse and I was planning a wedding, and so as you know weddings are super expensive," Feltes said.
She was initially unsure about the health and wellness company, but after researching the company she was intrigued.
"I thought you know why not give it a try, if I am awful at it at least I know I gave it a shot," she said.
As it turns out, she was far from awful at it.
"A year and a half into business I replaced my nursing income," Feltes said.
Building the business took work and reasonable expectations.
"It does take hard work and time," she said.
With mainly word-of-mouth referrals, she was able to build her business up to what it is today.
That meant that in addition to helping pay for her wedding, Feltes was also able to leave her nursing job and stay home with the two sons she now has.
"The number one benefit is not missing one milestone in my children's lives," Feltes said.
For her the business is part-time, about 10-15 hours a week, allowing her to focus on her family as well.
"It's always your life first and then Arbonne," Feltes said.
Working from home, Feltes sells the products by connecting with customers online, at their home or through parties.
"There's a lot of different routes to build your business," she said.
A good part of her business comes from spa nights and parties, because that's what she enjoys. She's able to work the ways that are best for her and her family, and was even able to step back during one of her pregnancies and have the business continue to thrive.
"I love the flexibility and I love owning my own business and being able to make my own schedule," Feltes said said.
Finding the balance between work and personal life is a struggle for most, and can be even more difficult when working from home. Feltes said she does have to balance having both her business and her kids at home with her.
"Sometimes with kids it's kind of challenging," she said.
Day One DJ
The details: Joe Osterberg — Owner / DJ / MC, www.dayonedj.com, 763-742-8031
For Day One DJ owner, DJ and emcee Joe Osterberg, operating his business out of his home is what he is most comfortable with and is what his clients want when they look to hire someone for their wedding or big event.
"A brick and mortar location increases overhead and diminishes freedom. I want the freedom to meet clients where I want and when I want and so do they. Most of my clients are couples aged 24-35, and it's a no-brainer for them," Osterberg said. "In fact, many of them come to me specifically because I don't have a brick and mortar location. To them, that screams big business where they're just another name on a schedule, and that's not what we do."
Osterberg started Day One DJ four years ago after realizing that there was an increasing need for high quality and high energy DJ/emcee services for weddings. Osterberg's background as a musician, music producer, and DJ provided him with the perfect skill set to serve the market.
"Entertaining is natural for me, and I have a high energy level by default that increases when I'm working with wedding guests or a crowd of people. They feed off of me, I feed off of them, and everybody has an awesome time," Osterberg said. "Our two biggest goals at Day One DJ are making sure that people don't have to worry about anything the night of their event and packing the dance floor. We're not just 'button pushers.' I can train anybody to work DJ equipment, but I can't train personalities and it takes a lot of experience to be able to read a room."
Osterberg works about 50 events a year, which is a lot more than it would seem and keeps him busy all year long.
"A seven-hour wedding reception is much more than seven hours worth of work," Osterberg said.
Although Osterberg admits that balancing work and the rest of his life is a challenge, it is something that he has found to be a challenge no matter whether he works from home or not.
"There are challenges, of course, but all of our lives are better off in the current situation than when I worked in a traditional work environment," Osterberg said. "I could see having an office outside of my home at some point, but I'd want it to be a very open place that people are at by choice. If they want to work from home and just meet clients at the office? Perfect, as long as they can prove they're responsible enough to do that."
La Fete Services
La Fete Services event planning is probably one of the newest home-based businesses in the area, but co-owners Sarah Sweet and Jessica Jackson are excited to share their passion for event planning.
"We both naturally like to host events and parties. We pay attention to all the details, which is why we have it as part of our business slogan: 'Celebrate The Details.' There are a lot of people, when they go to do an event, they are so stressed out and worry too much about the big impact and not so much about the small things that really do matter," Jackson said. "Those things are what leave a lasting impression on people. That is where we come in and can help people."
La Fete has only existed for a few months as a home-based business, but both Sweet and Jackson have been planning events for family, friends and local sports organizations for a long time.
"We've been talking about starting our own business for a long time and we finally came to a point in both of our lives where we wanted to do something we enjoy. So we just ripped the Bandaid off," Sweet said. "We offer anything from advice — since some people are just looking at advice on how to do something — to covering every detail and helping with everything from the venue, catering and more."
Both Sweet and Jackson currently hold other full time jobs, but are hoping to eventually grow La Fete enough to allow the business to become their only job. La Fete offers services for weddings, grand openings, birthday parties, fundraisers, corporate events, graduations, open houses, showers and more.
"What we offer depends on the event. The tiers really change because corporate events are very different and so are individual events. There really isn't one set event pricing. For us, it is catered to the person and the event," Jackson said.
Although La Fete is another responsibility on top of being parents and working their normal jobs, both Sweet and Jackson find a good balance between work and their families.
"My kids are also very active, so it is just finding that time to work when I can. It isn't so much that they miss the interaction with me because I can find time to be with them," said Sweet, who is a single mother. "And my kids are kind of involved anyway. They like coming up with ideas and helping shop for things as well.
"With technology today, if you are at a soccer game or waiting for a kid to get done with practice, I can multitask and get more stuff done while I'm not at work. Between the two of us, we can share things so easily and do it in real time so we don't have to be in the same place to get stuff done."
Photographer Rachel Paulus' office is her computer desk at home, and her studio is the world around her.
As an on-location photographer without a studio, she meets clients in their homes and shoots at a variety of locations around Western Wisconsin and the Twin Cities, from parks to Target.
"With my style of photography too I feel like it lends itself better to on location," she said.
Her home is a quiet place for her to work, and she finds it easy to focus there.
"The only time it gets challenging is if I need to work and my kids want me to do other things," she said.
The balance is important, and it's easier with the support of family.
"I've never felt like they haven't wanted me to do it," she said.
Paulus' schedule is determined by the demand, but she aims to work the business full-time. Without a studio, half of the year is not as busy as the rest.
Working on-location is a more affordable option for Paulus - she doesn't have to worry about paying rent.
"With a brick and mortar you need money for rent and all of the overhead," she said.
It can limit her clientele when she's not able to offer a studio setting for those who want one.
"For my clients, that's not as attractive," she said.
A storefront would also mean another form of advertising, something that people would see every day as they walk or drive by. Being based out of her home does affect the way Paulus advertises her business. She uses methods like word of mouth, social media, silent auctions and promotions around town and with other business. Word-of-mouth referrals are one of the best ways, Paulus said.
"You have to find different ways of letting people know you exist," she said.
Though she enjoys her on-location shoots, and would continue to do them, Paulus does eventually want a studio.
"That's my dream," she said. "That's where I want to be."