Before Janet Pickover started her home-based meeting management company nearly 30 years ago, she was a full-time educator who had taken time off to raise her children. It was a question from her family’s financial planner that sparked the idea to start a business at her house.
“He said, ‘Do you know someone who can get me speaking engagements?’
“Ten words, Pickover recalls. “I answered, ‘I can do that.’ In 14 words, I started a career.”
While Pickover emphasizes “it is not the way I would recommend starting a career,” his inquiry “was the proverbial light bulb that went off in my head.”
Pickover, a certified meeting planner (CMP), will present, “Creating and Running a Business from Home” on Monday, June 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the East Brunswick Public Library, 2 Civic Center, East Brunswick. Fee: $25. The event is offered by the Greater Princeton Area SCORE in partnership with the East Brunswick Public Library.
SCORE Princeton is part of a national nonprofit association and a resource partner of the SBA. SCORE’s more than 11,000 volunteers serve as “Counselors to America’s Small Business” and are dedicated to the education of entrepreneurs and the formation, growth, and success of the nation’s small businesses, according to SCORE’s website, www.scoreprinceton.org.
SCORE provides free and confidential business counseling, coaching, and mentoring, tailored to meet the needs of small businesses and their personal objectives. SCORE also offers free seminars and workshops for both start-up entrepreneurs and established small business owners.
Pickover says she always had a talent for organizing. As part of her responsibilities in the volunteer work she was doing, she organized conventions and events and handled the programming. “I found out that I wasn’t alone,” Pickover says. “A lot of other people I know had similar stories, where they had done it in volunteer work.”
When Pickover launched her company, JR Associates, she ran it as a speaker’s bureau and built it into a full-fledged management company. The company now offers consulting and lecture services.
“If a company or a professional association wants me to talk about different areas in my profession,” she is able to provide those services. “It’s very geared toward my interests,” she says.
Pickover’s entrepreneurial pursuit was not a foreign concept to her. Both of her parents were entrepreneurs. Her mother ran a successful dress shop for 36 years, and her father owned a meat delivery service. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs,” she says. “It was a natural course.”
Pickover earned her undergraduate and master’s degree from Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University) and started her career in education, later taking the CMP exam. Now, she is able to focus on mentoring and working with people who are looking to start their businesses.
Her program with SCORE at the East Brunswick library will focus on people looking to start their own businesses from home. “This is a particular program with my area of expertise because there are a lot of people who do start businesses,” she says. “Some of them will start their businesses at home and leave. Their home offices may not work after a while. I faced that challenge after a while.”
When she started her business in her previous home, she had a different set up, but when she and her husband moved to Princeton, she was able to add a staff. Her program on June 18 will address this and many other aspects of starting and running a home business.
Many of the concerns that someone needs to consider when starting a home business come during the planning stages.
Determine whether your home is the best place to operate your business. Entrepreneurs considering their homes as the venue for their business have to ask themselves a series of questions. “How do I prepare my family and friends for this?” is one. Asking how to balance children, a family, and other aspects of life at home and making it work while running a business from home is another.
“For some people, some pluses are not pluses, and the cons are not cons,” Pickover says.
Legal Aspects. One of the first things new business owners need to consider are the legal implications — including zoning, insurance, and incorporation issues. Pickover advises checking with your community about zoning regulations that may impact a homeowner’s ability to run a business from home.
“There are rules if you live in an adult community or condo communities,” Pickover says. “You may have additional rules that you may not even know about.”
New businesses owners may not want to put in a lot of time and effort if what they plan to do is not legally permitted, she says.
Research your resources. There are many assessment tools available to entrepreneurs considering whether their home is the best option for their businesses. One of the best tools for entrepreneurs in New Jersey is nj.gov and SCORE’s website. “There is a whole assessment you can take to see whether or not you’ve got what it takes to start a business.”
An additional resource Pickover recommends is the SBA.gov, the U.S. Small Business Administration website.
Running a business successfully from home has become a little easier in the years since Pickover started her own venture. The tools of business may have changed with the advent of technology, but the core hasn’t, and business owners must keep this in mind — even if it is from their homes.
“A business, is a business, is a business, and you cannot forget that, even if you are running it from home,” she says.