As more small enterprises are run from home, an understanding of the needs and challenges facing home-based businesses is essential for governments and corporations alike.

That was the message from Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) student Jim Taggart (pictured) as he presented the findings of his research into the levels of trust, commitment and reciprocity in relationships between home-based companies and their business contacts at the Doctoral Symposium at the Tweed Gold Coast campus of Southern Cross University today.

Mr Taggart, who is one of 75 doctoral candidates and academic staff attending the bi-annual symposium this weekend, said his work took a close look at activities such as networking events to determine how this sector does business.

“One of the criticisms of working from home is that it can be an isolating experience, and the research found that in particular, older home-based workers went to networking events because they provided a social stimulus,” said Mr Taggart.

“Conversely, younger age groups were present in order to do business, but the perception among the sample group was that networking events do not live up to expectations, despite the obvious opportunities they present for those working from home.

“It was thought that attendees act differently to how they really are, making it difficult to build trust and therefore meaningful business contacts.”

Mr Taggart was last week appointed President of the Association of Financial Advisors of Australia and also runs Sydney-based financial service company, the Taggart Group

Mr Taggart said that home-based businesses accounted for a significant part of economic activity.

“Many people assume that those who work from home have a healthy work/life balance, but in fact most are exceptionally tied to their business and juggle demanding work requirements with family needs,” said Mr Taggart.

“Their work is not confined to Monday to Friday, yet they are often restricted by the inflexible working hours of the people they do business with.

“Depending on which figures you look at, there are between 850,000 and 1.2 million businesses run from home in Australia.

“The more that is understood about this important segment, the better placed those who work with them will be to nurture positive and productive business relationships.”