Homing in on awards at last

THERE are literally hundreds of home-based business dotted across the Northern River, but rarely do they appear on most people's radar.

Deborah Marks, who runs her business Deborah Marks Weddings and Occasions from her home in Goonellabah, isn't sure why these businesses that contribute so much to the local economy are often overlooked.

But she is thankful the Lismore Chamber of Commerce finally recognised the sector at the recent business awards.

“There is that perception that home-based businesses are just a hobby and not a real business,” she said. “I'm lucky because in my industry we probably have the biggest number of home-based businesses.

“But people who aren't in our industry have it a lot tougher, which is why I'm really glad that at the (Lismore) business awards they had a category for that.”

Mrs Marks took out the best home-business award at this month's Star Lismore Chamber Awards. She has been operating her wedding and event planning company for about 12 months after noticing a large gap in the market when she remarried in 2007.

“It was my second wedding and I had trouble sourcing chair covers that were affordable, so I started hiring our chair covers and things to make weddings more affordable,” she said.

With a background in real estate, Mrs Marks knew that to make the business a success she first had to write a business plan, research and find suppliersbefore starting to market the company.

“Bridal shows are the main marketing avenue, as well as word-of-mouth,” she said. “I'm also on Facebook and have a website, which is invaluable. You have to have a website so people can see what you do.”

Mrs Marks said starting a home-based business was her only real option when she decided to start working again because she wanted to work around raising two-year-old son, Addison.

“He is number one, so it is nothing to me to be working and reading my emails at 10 o'clock at night and sowing chair covers at midnight,” she said.

“In other businesses where you are chained to a shop front, you can't do that.”

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