People who operate businesses at home may have the luxury of a brief commute, but they must become quick studies in everything from accounting and insurance to pensions and time management, sales tax and income tax.
And they have to compete in their lines of work.
It requires "being a jack of all trades," said Joan Machinchick, whose Lake Claire Design Studio is based in her Cape St. Claire home. "Having to do your own accounting, all your own errands, as well as doing your work."
That is why the Anne Arundel Trade Council is offering a series of free seminars on handling the administrative side of things. The first of the "Home Alone" discussions was to have been held Monday, but was postponed.
"The purpose of the series is to provide kind of like a support and educational service," said Annapolis tax accountant Michael Shelsby.
He plans to discuss what remains tax deductible in the wake a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that determined a home office is deductible only if business actually is transacted there, a blow to salespersons and contractors who do most of their work in the field but their paper work at home.
Based on 1990 U.S. Bureau of the Census figures, county officials estimate that at least 6,121 Anne Arundel residents work at home, a little more than twice as many as a decade earlier.
National surveys indicate that operators of businesses at home spend an average of 10 hours a week on administrative tasks, said Mr. Shelsby, who formerly located his practice in his home and who does tax work for home-based businesses. He said he thinks the average person who runs a business at home "does a fairly good job of keeping up with their administrative responsibilities."
Ms. Machinchick estimated that she spends 10 percent of her time on paperwork for her graphic design, lettering and publications design business, but it's an uncomfortable 10 percent.
She is concerned, she said, about possibly missing something on the business side of the business, and plans to attend at least some of the seminars.
The trade council still is trying to identify subjects of interest and arrange the seminars, said Carol Dreyfuss, a council spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, a series called "First Friday," brown bag lunches held the first Friday of each month and aimed at small business members of the trade council, has taken off, Ms. Dreyfuss said. Started in January, it has drawn at least a dozen people to each informal session.