Chamber Hosts Forum for Home-Based Businesses

Eastern CT The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT recently organized a meeting of regional home-based business owners at an inaugural “SOHO” (Small Office / Home Office) Open Forum at the Chamber’s office in Waterford.

The purpose of the gathering was to solicit input from home-based business owners, identify their needs, and determine how the Chamber’s programming could be amended to best serve this important segment of the business community. 

“SOHO” businesses are a strong growth sector in the nation’s economy. According to Forbes, 79 million American entrepreneurs are expected to open a home-based business within the next five years. To serve the needs of this growing market, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT planned its inaugural “SOHO” forum as a first step to get to know eastern CT “SOHO” businesses and learn about their challenges.

Home-based businesses present at the inaugural “SOHO” Open Forum represented a broad spectrum of industries, including contractors, consultants, travel planners, publishers, retail proprietors, web designers, and others. They were joined by representatives from the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT, Ignite (a project of the Thames River Innovation Place) and the CT Women’s Business Development Council.

A highlight of the inaugural “SOHO” Open Forum was the chance for home-based business owners to speak about the specific challenges of working out of a home office. The roundtable discussion brought up common issues including:

  • Distractions of operating a business from home
  • Lack of administrative assistance
  • Isolation
  • Staying competitive against brick-and-mortar businesses
  • Addressing a perceived stigma of operating a professional business from one’s personal home
  • Having a formal meeting place to meet with clients
“SOHO” business owners took solace in airing their shared struggles among a group of like-minded business people and said they were appreciative of the Chamber’s willingness to listen to their needs and take the steps necessary to improve the business climate.

“Just knowing that ears are on the ground and there’s someone to talk to makes all the difference in the world,” said Scott Garbini, owner of Garbini Education & Career Consulting, LLC. “The Chamber makes it easy as a small business owner to connect with leaders who can help my business grow. With the support of elected officials who pay attention to the business community, my Chamber membership is like a direct line connecting my home office to legislators at the capitol.”

Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT President & CEO Tony Sheridan said the Chamber is pleased to support the home-based business community.

“If you look at business trends, home based business represent a growing part of our economy,” said Sheridan. “With low overhead, more control, and increased flexibility, plus tax benefits, there are many advantages of operating a business from home. The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT is well-positioned to support the development of eastern CT’s entire business community, both large and small.”

The inaugural “SOHO” forum is the first of many steps the Chamber is taking to embrace the small office/home office business community.

In fall 2018, the Chamber will launch a “SOHO” business division, which will be a standing council that will support the specific interests of small office/home office business owners through focused initiatives and regular meetups.

Additionally, the Chamber will introduce a new membership category for “SOHO” businesses. This effort will enable “SOHO” business owners who belong to the Chamber to self-identify and receive specialized communications and invitations to participate in events and programming developed specifically for the small office/home office business community.

Learn more about the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT and its business, tourism, and community services at or call (860) 701-9113. For the most up-to-date information about the Chamber and its programming, follow the Chamber on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube (@ChamberECT).
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About the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut:
The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut is a collaborative of business and community leaders dedicated to securing and enhancing the economic vitality of eastern Connecticut. The Chamber works to create value for its members and the region by providing forums for business networking, leadership and discussions of issues that affect the region; providing opportunities for members to showcase their products, services and accomplishments; helping small businesses succeed through educational programs; and working to reduce the costs of doing business in Connecticut.  For more information, visit