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Not surprisingly, ninety-six percent of virtual professionals were based in home offices. This is not unusual for small businesses; for some this is a stepping stone and for others, a permanent lifestyle. Many had home offices already set up and found transition easy once Internet technology became available. Some, like Janice Byer at Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services, had both corporate and entrepreneurial experience working for her dad but "didn't want to 'go out' to work when he retired." The majority of virtual professionals are solo entrepreneurs without any employees.
Thirty percent of virtual professionals said that child care was major factor in starting their business, and for sixty percent, their business provides their sole income. Women working at home with small children in background have their own unique challenges, but imagine education their children will get about entrepreneurship. Renae Bolton, owner of Triple J WordProcessing Co., left office to fix her son a snack and he called out "Mom - one of your clients is blinking you!" when an Instant Message came in.
A virtual professional can be anywhere on planet, again assuming technology is available, and for that reason, survey purposefully did not collect geographic information from respondents. However, survey respondents came from global networking environments online in order to get a diverse response. Although United States was a leader, a significant number of virtual professionals were from Australia and Canada.
Working virtually can be a challenge, and without right technology, it can be downright impossible. In next two articles of this series, we will look at perks and perils of working this way, and later, what tools and technologies are popular amongst virtual professionals in 2003.
### © Eileen Parzek, SOHO It Goes! 2003
Eileen Parzek conducted an online survey of 70 virtual professionals around the world for this article. Ms. Parzek is a veteran web designer and an online marketing & communications consultant who has been working from home and virtually since 1995. Her current business, SOHO It Goes! (www.soho-it-goes.com) functions as an online marketing department for small businesses and organizations.