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Feb, 11 2013

NOW, A HOUSE(FULL) OF PROFITS

In today's era of ever increasing living costs, hectic lifestyles, stressful corporate careers and pink slips, ownership of a home-based franchise provides an excellent gateway to financial freedom and prosperity.

NOW-A-DAYS, more and more people are opting for work at home opportunities.  The spirited individuals, who seek greater freedom in their careers and an enhanced work-life balance, find home-based business quite enticing. There are apparent benefits of operating a home business such as an opportunity to be one's own boss, flexible work hours and a stable income stream. Unlike a job or other types of businesses, it doesn't keep them away from home for long hours. Those who desire to spend more time with their family and children and at the same time achieve economic and emotional security, starting a home-based venture is a good idea. Advancements in communication media, such as the Internet and cell phones, have   significantly impacted today's work culture and an enterprise can be operated easily and profitably from a home office. To become a successful business owner, one can join hands with a well-established franchisor.  It is an easy and relatively less risky mode of entry into the business world than doing it, all alone. Apart from new entrepreneurs, the home-based franchises are a pertinent route for women, veterans and the differently-abled to be gainfully self-employed.

There are some interesting and potentially lucrative home-based franchises that let one earn handsomely without leaving the comfort of one's home.

Becoming a consultant or trainer

There are franchisors that offer various types of consultancy and training franchises for home-based business aspirants. One such company is Vyapar Hub, an IT-based consulting company. It is a B2B portal having multiple brands, namely Adhyayan, Manan, Margdarshi and Samadhan. It exclusively caters to leather, footwear, fashion and similar industries. All one needs is a small room and Rs 80,000 towards capital requirement.  Even students looking for part-time work opportunity can become Vyapar Hub's franchisee.

Operating since 2003, Progressive Management Consultants (PMC) has been instrumental in getting over 300 companies, including manufacturing firms, hospitals, builders, educational and training institutions, hotels, traders, charitable trust, etc., certified to various ISO standards. Its range of products and services can be classified as consultancy, training, certification and CIP (after certification support). PWC's Founder & CEO Santosh Nair says: “The last five years have seen a tremendous surge in firms going for ISO certifications.” To cater to the increasing demand, PMC now wants to expand pan-India via mutually rewarding franchise partnerships. It has already entered Bangalore, Mumbai, Trivandrum and Palakkad.

“Our customers do not come to us; rather we visit their offices for rendering our services and the entrepreneur is free to operate from his own residence also. Our franchisees can be from varied educational backgrounds, but they need to undergo mandatory training that we provide. Undoubtedly, engineers, chartered accountants, teachers and retired employees would easily score better than others, though it is not a requirement,” says Nair. The concept deals with intellectual property and does not pose any operational, infrastructural or marketing challenges. Depending upon the location, a franchise fee of Rs 1.5-5 lakh is applicable.

The real estate company Re/max and business coaching franchise Action Coach also offer work   at home opportunity.

Gifts wrapped in profits

With a wide ranging product portfolio, brands like Sparket, Petalz, Fern n Petals are capitalising on the growing corporate gifting culture; OM INCREDIBLE ARTISTRY (OCA) is into trousseau-packing. Buds n Bites provides training for making handcrafted flowers and chocolates to women at domestic level. Both OCA and Buds n Bites cater to women franchisees who can operate from residential locations. Since 1986 Sparket has been offering an exceptional variety of promotional gifts.  The beauty of the concept is that it does not require expensive retail space, or higher or hefty operational costs for business roll-out.  With presence via company-owned outlets and franchise locations in key cities like Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and Kochi, it is open to home-based franchisees also. Anil Kumar Gupta, Managing Director, Sparket Marketing Pvt. Ltd, states: “We offer everything from a pin to a plane. We seek entrepreneurs who are willing to learn the basics. One can start with a table and cupboard space and may believe in starting small, but one should be ambitious to make it big in a short span of time through hard work and enthusiasm. The aspirants can fulfil all their dreams as this business provides a number of opportunities in any area and there is no limit on one's growth.” The brand's franchisee will need only Rs 6 lakh for exclusive territorial rights of state capitals (the investment spread over a period of time) for unlimited business turnover for lifetime.

Cashing in on power of web

In India e-commerce is gradually coming of age with more and more brands taking the e-tailing route to sell their products and services to a growing creed of online buyers. Even big shots like Gitanjali, a premium jewellery retailer, have also hopped on the bandwagon. Instead of establishing its own online store, it is offering e-franchises, a low-cost investment model which is an extension of Gitanjali's store-based franchise. As an intermediary, it will retail products for a commission. The model has options: E-com Partner, Retail SIS, and Direct Sellers. It also offers direct selling opportunity to housewives for Rs 5- 15 lakh.

Maintaining good relations with its internal and external stakeholders makes good business sense for every corporate. “Beyond Petals, a B2B operation, helps all kind of businesses in servicing their internal and external clients, including employees, retailers, distributors and actual customers by undertaking customer relation management (CRM) activity on their behalf.  Due to lack of manpower, system or data management, they are often not targeted for CRM or mostly a random one touch base activity is done during the Diwali season,” explains Amitabh Banerji, Co-Founder & Head Franchise Sales at Beyond Petals Pvt Ltd. The company assists them with any one or all of these: data collection, data ratification, providing customised solutions, arranging the delivery by remembering, reminding and delivering the wishes on company's behalf, sending the confirmation to the company. It customises its product as per the need and budget of the corporate client. “Our product is equally relevant for retail customers too,” says Amitabh.  Presently, the brand has franchise presence in home base in Mumbai, Vadodra, Pune, and   Haryana. With focus on Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka, Beyond Petals plans to have master franchisees in 25 zones across India.  The cost of a unit is Rs 1 lakh and zonal master franchise is variable.

Other online concepts that have home-based franchise model are the wellness brands, namely Yourwellness.net, an initiative of SANDA group, and Vema Team Direct, India partner of nutritional drink brand Vema (USA).

Children-inspired concepts

If one loves working with children, besides crèche, playschools, art, music or tutoring franchises, home-based formats like Sporty Beans, a sports based play programme for preschool and primary schoolchildren and Aero-Sports which promotes Aeromodeling, Model Rocketry and Robotics in schools, colleges and corporates, offer an interesting bet. Started as a SSI unit in 2009, Aero-Sports is a unique and exciting concept recognised by the Aero Modelers Association. Catering to 6-10 graders in schools, the brand has already tied up with 50 franchisees in India and two abroad. M.R.K Menon, Founder, Aero-Sports, informs: “Our work is fun, exciting and diverse and the franchisees do not need an office, go-down, inventory or costly advertising to generate income in our business model.” However, he cautions: “To succeed in a home-based business, one must have self-discipline. It is easy to become complacent or postpone appointments and commitments to clients in a home environment.” Aiming for 1000 franchisees in the next 2-3 years, the brand is seeking partnerships with graduates with a good personality and flair for teaching. The love for airplanes, rockets and robots and some arts and crafts experience/skills are added advantages. A one-time investment of Rs 2.5- 3.25 lakh is needed for this royalty-free franchise model.

Home-based biz trend is here to stay

Till a few years ago, there were only run-of-the mill home business concepts available.  These days a number of exciting opportunities have emerged in this space. Entrepreneurs desiring better control over their lives and big bucks can count on such promising home-based franchise business.

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