There’s no place like home

With commercial
rents and utility costs high here in the Cayman Islands, an increasing number
of entrepreneurs are running businesses right out of their homes.

Although it is not appropriate
to run every kind of business out of the home, there is a surprising variety
here in Cayman.

Mark Thompson has been running
the successful Thompson Landscapes Ltd from his home for 17 years. He has a
small office set up at home to do his administration, but that’s about all the
business he conducts from the house.

“For a lot of businesses, having
a storefront is important,” he says, adding that since he gets the vast
majority of his clients through word of mouth, having a place where clients can
walk in is not necessary.

“I don’t see many customers at
my home; I almost always go out to meet them,” he says. “When I meet a client,
we talk about their home, so it’s just best to be there.”

With no outside office to
maintain, Thompson is able to keep his overheads down. But beyond saving money,
working from home has added to the quality of his life in another important

“For anyone who has a home-based
business that has small kids, it’s great,” he says. “My wife is jealous that I
get to be at home with my five-year-old son. That’s one of the biggest upsides
of working from home.”

satisfied with only one home-based business, Thompson also started the Cayman
Islands Sauce Company Ltd with some family members in 2007. The company
produces two kinds of locally sold hot sauces. At first, the sauce was made
right in Thompson’s kitchen, but for a variety of reasons, not the least of
which were the strong fumes created from using Scotch bonnet peppers, the
production eventually moved to what was once the guest house on the property.

Thompson says he does keep his
empty bottles – which he has to buy by the pallet – in a shared storage unit,
but other than that, his entire operation is done from home.

“I could not do it if I had to
rent a place,” he said, noting he would have to dedicate much more time to the
business if he had the overhead of a rented space to pay.

food-based company that has started out at home is Caribo’s, which sells
literally home-made sausages as well as some specialty

Owner David Cross, who runs the
business with the help of his wife Jackie, operates out of a separate room at
his home, which is kept in “pristine” condition for food preparation.

“I literally step out of one
door and into another one,” he says.

Even though he works out of his
home, Cross still very much works hard and has to be disciplined.

“I start production between 7am
and 8am and try to organise my business so I can make deliveries in the
afternoon,” he says.

For Cross, Caribo’s is his only
job. However, his wife is also employed full-time and does the necessary
administration work after her day job.

Caribo’s has a website for
potential customers, but it also has a presence at the Saturday morning Market
at the Grounds and the Market at Camana Bay on Wednesdays.  This exposure has allowed Caribo’s to
establish a clientele without a storefront, helping to keep his overhead down,
but Cross has bigger things in mind.

“Eventually, I would like a
place in town,” he says.

While Thompson and Cross are
doing something a little nontraditional in home-based businesses – producing
food products – Tom McCallum is doing what many people have done over the years
from their homes: running a consultancy business.

For McCallum, who started up
McCallum Solutions at the beginning of this year, working out of the home is
just like another day at the office.

“I’m behind my desk by 8am,” he
says. “That’s far quicker than most people because I have no commute.”

McCallum’s office is in a room
separated from the rest of the house, something he said was key to his decision
not to get an office somewhere.

“If I didn’t have one room I
could dedicate 24/7 as an office, I would have rented an office,” he said,
adding that he didn’t think an office that is also used as a family room or
guest room is a good idea. “Because I had a room that could be used as a
separate office, it was an easy call for me.”

Still, with three children and a
wife at home, it took some time for everyone to respect the home-work

“It took a while for my spouse
and kids to understand that just because I’m in the house, doesn’t mean I’m not
working,” he says, noting that there would be requests to do chores during the
days, along with kids asking questions.

“They had to understand that if
I’m in the office, I’m not really there.”

McCallum says he feels he’s more
efficient working out of his home, partially because he doesn’t have to drive
to work somewhere.

“That’s one of the great
benefits,” he says.

In addition, when it comes to
lunch, he can simply go to his kitchen, open the refrigerator and get something
to eat.

Working out of his home also
gives McCallum flexibility in how he dresses.

“I dress for work as I dress for
work, depending on what I have to do that day,” he says. “If I have to have a
video conference with someone in Korea dressed in a shirt and tie, that’s what
I’ll wear. But sometimes I can just as easily work in a T-shirt and shorts.”

McCallum says it takes some
discipline to work from home, but for him it’s not an issue.

“I’m pretty much a hard-charging,
Type A personality,” he says. “I’m used to working long hours and extremely

Like Thompson and Cross,
McCallum doesn’t meet many clients at home. 
He has clients in several different countries as well as in Cayman, so
he uses various computer technologies like video conferencing to interact with
clients. He often meets local clients at their place of business, or even at a
coffee shop. In the end, he doesn’t see much difference in working from home
than if he had an office somewhere else.

“It was really just a case of thinking ‘why
do it any differently’,” he says.