(Editor’s note: This is the third in an occasional series of stories that will feature the companies and industries creating jobs in the region.)
When Cherie Daniel, a website designer based in Bristol, was an agency employee she relied on occasional freelance work to supplement her income.
When that agency folded, she started to rely on it for much more.
“[The freelance work] morphed into me saying, ‘This might really work; I think I can do this,’ ” Daniel said. “I made the jump to, ‘Let’s do this on my own.’ ” At CCInspire, which she officially launched last year, she’s almost alone – but not quite. A semi-exclusive partnership with CCInspire Hosting, run by former colleague Adam Gerhard out of New Hampshire, allows her to focus on design work, including for several Rhode Island tourism organizations. Gerhard handles the technical aspects Daniel otherwise would have to hire an in-house person to handle.
Daniel’s business model – handling almost the entire business herself and contracting out task specific or temporary work – is increasingly being embraced by entrepreneurs who want to start out small and, more or less, stay that way.
“It’s something that we’ve been seeing pretty consistently for the last two or three years,” said Adriana Dawson, state director of Johnson & Wales University’s Rhode Island Small Business Development Center. “We’ve been seeing a lot more activity with the ‘onesies’ coming in and exploring entrepreneurship and creating a home-based or micro business and doing well.”
In March, according to the R.I. Department of Labor and Training’s most recent available statistics, 49.5 percent, or 15,684, of private employers in the state have between one and four employees.
The 5,699 businesses employing zero workers – meaning a one-person shop – represent 18 percent of private employers.
“I wouldn’t do it any other way,” said Julie Lancia, who 12 years ago founded ALX Group, an interior design firm in North Providence. “[And] from a business standpoint, it just makes sense.”
Lancia’s business needs require some flexibility and independence.