By Annaliese Watkins

Work from home business opportunities have often been regarded as a great way to earn a living. Being your own boss, flexible working hours and lower overheads on premises costs are just some of the reasons many people have opted to create their own home business.

While there may seem to be countless opportunities to work from home, many are not legitimate, so it requires extensive research and much consideration on which opportunity is the right one for you.

Once you have secured a business, there is still much more to be done, including acquiring home business insurance and fitting your home office with relevant equipment.

With many benefits, but considerably more effort required than simply working for an employer, we take a look at whether home businesses have become more or less popular in recent years.

In 2005, three years before the recession kicked in, up to 3.1 million people were working from home, making up 11% of the UK’s entire workforce. This was a considerable rise from 1997, which saw this figure at just 2.3 million . Going forward to the end of 2009, well into the economic downturn, and 3.7 million people were working from home, showing a 21% increase from 2001 and suggesting that many companies had been forced to lower their overheads by offering employees the chance to work from home. Whilst these figures show a steady rise in the number of people working from home, how many of them were self employed businesses?

According to Flexibility.co.uk, approximately two-thirds of home workers in 2009 were self-employed, and more significantly, between 2001 and 2009, the amount of home based businesses had risen by a dramatic 22% .

With 2.3 million people currently unemployed in the UK , many people have found themselves feeling uncertain about their future careers and have turned to home based business opportunities. According to David Ogley, one sector of home based businesses which is on the increase is the work from home entrepreneur . Whilst some of those currently out of work will eventually find their way into employment, others may turn to earning a living from home. With so many ideas to choose from (publishing, online marketing and sales to name a few), it is a viable option for many. As long as care is taken to ensure any businesses you sign up to are legitimate, owning and operating your own business from home can become a profitable and satisfying career choice.

A 2010 survey produced by the Federation of Small Business suggested further reasons for the popularity of home based businesses, stating that work from home participants were able to achieve the highest percentage of e-commerce at 15%, claiming that the ‘ability to trade online without the need for a business premises’ may have influenced their decision of whether or not to work from home. The survey went on to further highlight the advantages of a home based business over renting, owning or leasing a premises, stating that 57% of home workers didn’t borrow money for their business, in comparison to 40% of those that lease their premises .

During these times of economic uncertainty, the link between self-employment and working from home has become increasingly significant. Flexibiltiy.co.uk suggest that it is during these troubled times that entrepreneurship from the home should take centre stage, with encouragement and incentives being put in place to develop home-based enterprise.