Local Government Assistance for Home-Based Businesses: Is it Working?
International Council for Small Business
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Management
There are more than eight hundred and fifty thousand small businesses in Australia that are home-based, a significant proportion of all businesses in the country. Past studies of home-based businesses reveal that they can be at a disadvantage due to the operator's isolation and lacking in access to other business services, lacking in business credibility, restrictions on client access to their premises, and being less visible to the public. Local government is often the first contact point for home-based businesses as the operator endeavours to determine whether they can operate the business from home. This paper reports on a study of the interaction between local government and home-based businesses in the state of Victoria. It involved telephone interviews with representatives of all of the local government jurisdictions in the state together with a survey of their websites. In-depth interviews were subsequently undertaken with 20 selected councils running local government. This paper concentrates on the various forms of assistance provided to home-based businesses. The findings indicate that the levels of assistance provided are related to the perceived level of need for employment generating business activity in the local municipality. The paper analyses the various forms of assistance and categorises them according to start-up, survival, and growth support. The paper concludes with the identification of specific forms of assistance that are more likely to be associated with supporting the development and employment generating capacity of home-based businesses.