Home-Based Businesses: Christopher Hansen

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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on June 14, 2000. All rights reserved.

Circling for Jobs: Ban Commuting

E-mail: BarbaraFox@princetoninfo.com

A big hurdle to looking for jobs on the World Wide Web

is the very nature of the virtual community: Geography Doesn’t Matter.

Geography does indeed matter when you are looking for work.

Websites such as the Monster Board let job seekers enter parameters,

but that doesn’t keep eager recruiters from pitching jobs that don’t

meet those parameters.

A site called Jobcircle.com narrows listings down to high tech jobs

in a four-state area. Based in West Chester (a Philadelphia suburb),

it lists jobs only from companies in New Jersey, New York, eastern

Pennsylvania, and Delaware (610-431-2001, www.jobcircle.com). In addition

to the actual job and resume listings, the site also has good links

to technical networking associations plus articles on job hunting

and entrepreneurship skills. Candidates can submit resumes for free,

and companies can get a 30-day trial to list themselves and their

ads. When a job matches an applicant’s search criteria, a "Classified

Agent" will send an E-mail.

"Even though you say you want to work in New Jersey on the Monster

Board (www.monster.com) you still get calls from all over the country,"

says Bob Etheridge, Ithaca College, Class of 1990, and one of

four partners who founded Jobcircle.com last year. "Jobcircle.com

is both regional and industry specific. If you are looking for a high

tech job in the four-state area, we want Jobcircle to be the only

place you need to go."

The service for candidates is always free. After the free trial period,

firms pay $350 per month, $999 per quarter, or $3,500 for the year.

Some 17 companies (three percent of those listed at Jobcircle) are

in the Princeton area. Here are some of their responses:

"We have been getting a lot of resumes out of Jobcircle. Perhaps

because the job market is so tight, we have actually hired just one

or two," says Raj Sajankila, vice president of Princetec,

a software development and consulting firm at 4365 Route 1 South.

"We tried it on a temporary basis, but it draws from a regional

area and we wanted applicants from a larger area," says Fouzia

Samy, an account manager at Object Data at Princeton Meadows Office

Center.

Other Princeton area firms that have participated include Business

Evolution Inc. (aka Kana), ITXC, and Sarnoff Real Time Corporation

on College Road. At Research Park are Churchill & Harriman and Simstar

Digital Media. Also CyLogix Inc. on Washington Road, Independence

Systems on Princeton-Hightstown Road, Kenan Systems Corp. on Carter

Road, Dow Jones on Route 1 North, Atlanticom Technologies on Whitehead

Road, isSound (formerly Productivity Works) in Trenton, and Atlanta

Technologies in Lawrence Commons.

"To be realistic, the Internet is a tool. It is not the answer

to your recruiting nightmares," says Etheridge. The biggest obstacle

to using any of the jobposting services, he says, is that the recruiters

lack the time to keep the postings up to date.

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Home-Based Businesses: Christopher Hansen

E-mail: MelindaSherwood@princetoninfo.com

Dissatisfied with the corporate management at Sears

& Roebuck Company, Christopher Hansen decided to launch a business

from his home some 20 years ago. What started out as a simple career

change has turned into a much larger cause, however; namely, fostering

and encouraging people to begin their own home-based companies.

Hansen is now president of the Home-Based Business Council Inc. (www.hbbc.org),

a 200-member organization that offers advice, resources, and seminars

to its members. "I wanted everybody to have the same opportunity

that I did, to start a business at home," says Hansen. "Unfortunately

there are a lot of laws on the book that prohibit someone from doing

that."

Hansen will speak on "How to Grow Money-making Ideas" at the

Art Directors Club of New Jersey meeting on Tuesday, June 20, at 6:30

p.m. at the Kenilworth Inn. Call 201-997-1212. Cost: $45.

Since municipal zoning laws in many parts of New Jersey prohibit people

from running businesses from home, members of the Home-Based Business

Council Inc. are technically a band of rogues in defiance of the law.

However, many don’t even realize it. "The reason it doesn’t stop

people is because no one would bother to ask if they can do it,"

says Hansen. "Later on, when they do find out that they’re in

violation of a zoning law, they’ve already made a commitment and the

business is providing them with a reasonable amount of income."

Born in Neptune City where he currently works out of his home (his

company is Advanced Copier and Data Supplies), Hansen is self-educated

and spent most of his life working for Sears & Roebuck, where he supervised

45 employees in a department with $17 million in sales. "And I

had no time with my wife and kids," he says. "A friend of

mine said he had a business idea but he had no management skills whatsoever,

so I said I’ll see what I can do with it. Twenty-four years later

I’m doing the same thing."

Dissatisfaction is the primary motivator among people who launch their

own businesses, says Hansen. "It may be that you don’t get enough

time to spend with the wife and kids, or you get sick of traveling,

or the number of rungs on the ladder gets less and by the time you’re

50 you know you’re not going to be on the top floor with the corner

suite," he says.

No one should start a home-based business solely for financial gain,

however. The Martha Stewarts out there are the exception to the rule,

says Hansen. "If they start off only with the money in mind the

chances of being successfully go directly down," says Hansen,

who is also host of the Monmouth Cablevision show, Reuniting Work

and Home. "They have to be involved in something that they would

do without being paid. I know that flies in the face of conventional

wisdom, with all the kids making millions in their 20s, but it takes

a while to accumulate the kind of wealth that shows a person has arrived."

Unlike in the past, people who work from home today are not considered

"less professional" than those who work in a well-defined

corporate setting, says Hansen. "We are moving into placelessness,

where if a person has a body of skills or a service, the end consumer

doesn’t care where the product is put together," says Hansen.

"Unless it’s a matter of snob appeal, where some people are going

to visit your facility that doesn’t exist, it’s almost irrelevant.

I’d say operating a business from home is in vogue, even."

What are the key elements to building a successful home-based business?

Says Hansen:

Develop some body of experience. It’s not necessary to

become an expert in a field (Hansen goes so far as to say "there’s

almost an inverse ratio between IQ and ability to start a successful

business"), but you have to know your core competencies.

Find the things that you really love doing, not the things

you get paid to do. "For most Americans this is diametrically

opposed," he says. "Most people who have a job are selling

their time to the highest bidder, whereas those people who are in

their own business don’t feel that they’re selling anything —

they’re investing. Find something that you enjoy so much that you’d

be willing to put in thankless, countless hours for minimal compensation."

Discover a problem or an opportunity in disguise in either

your area of experience or area of joy. This is your business plan.

"I’ve been studying this over 20 years," says Hansen,

"and it hit me that there is a pattern that is consistent among

those who start a business from scratch and are successful. At some

point people move from the extrinsic reward, making the sacrifice

for the money, to saying `There’s no amount of money that can make

up for the years that I’ve lost.’"

— Melinda Sherwood


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