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Honing in on home-based businesses in the Crossroads

By ALLISON MILES
Feb. 12, 2011 at midnight
Updated Feb. 11, 2011 at 8:12 p.m.

Terri Ferrier, owner of Doggy Detailers grooming salon, is a  Victoria resident who runs home-based businesses.

STARTING A BUSINESS?Considering starting a home-based business or already have one under way? The University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center can offer advice. For more information, call 361-575-8944.

Terri Ferrier works hard every day, bathing pooches, trimming fur and painting nails for pampered pups. The good news? Her commute is next to nothing.

Ferrier owns Doggy Detailers Grooming Salon, which sits right next to her home.

"It's great," she said, walking down a sidewalk adorned with paw prints. "It doesn't take me long to get to work, and when I want to avoid the wind, I can get in through the backyard."

Ferrier isn't alone in her endeavor.

In Victoria County, 24 percent of residents - or 20,741 people - operate full- or part-time businesses from home, according to data from the 2005 to 2009 American Community Survey, a program of the United States Census Bureau.

The number of such businesses tends to follow the movement of the economy, said Joe Harper, director of the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center. Many times, people replace lost jobs with such ventures.

"We have seen a growing trend in the number of home-based businesses," he said. "People who may have certain skills create a business to market those skills."

Such companies are difficult to track because although required to register and file with the IRS, not everyone does, he said. Also, he added, few tend to succeed.

"A fair amount of the ones we've seen tend to just go away once a good job opportunity comes along," Harper said. "It's almost like a temporary business."

For Tessia Stastny, the decision to work from home came because of her children's extra-curricular activities.

"My husband's job covered living expenses, but no extras," the Inez resident said. "I was looking for something that would cover the cost of driving to all the activities, getting into the activities, buying shirts and that sort of thing."

Stastny became an independent sales rep with Avon nearly two years ago, and said she's glad she made the decision she did.

Working from home allows her to set her own schedule and still make it to her children's sporting events. She only finds herself overly busy about eight days a month.

Such endeavors still require work, however.

Stastny said she constantly works to find new clientele and studies up so she knows her products inside and out.

It takes time to get established, she said. Businesses require overhead costs, and many times, owners don't break even for quite a while.

"You have to put money into your business to make money," she said. "That's the hardest thing for anybody with a home-based business to do."

Albert Pena's business, Call Albert Landscaping, got its start eight years ago, virtually by accident.

The Victoria resident was retired and looking for a way to bring in some extra money, he said, so he began mowing lawns.

"More and more people came out and asked me to do work for them," he said. "I ended up with a business without even planning it."

He advised others who hope to see their business succeed to be honest and do the job well.

"I do things the way the customer likes it, not always the way I would do it," he said. "If you treat people right, they're going to keep on recommending you."

As for Ferrier, her grooming business got its start about nine years ago, when the family needed some extra income. Since she'd shown, bred and trained dogs in the past, she said the project was a natural progression.

"I began very bare bones, with the equipment I had," she said. "I actually started working out of the dogs' room in my house. In 2005, we put up the new building for me to work out of."

Working from home offered several benefits, she explained, including the ability to avoid strict deadlines, such as grooming 15 dogs in one day.

"This is something I love to do," she said. "And it's worked. I'm happy."

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