The idea of cottage industries calls to mind the backwoods home businesses of 200 years ago or Scottish knitters crafting unusual and expensive sweaters. It's true that cottage industries have existed for centuries and that talented knitters have been part of the movement for just as long and continue today, but increasingly, modern workers are starting cottage industries and for good reasons. The benefits of operating a business while keeping the home fires burning, combined with newer, less restrictive laws, have made cottage industries more attractive than ever.

Work From Home

The biggest benefit of having a cottage industry is probably the ability to work from home. This means that people who had difficulty working at a job away from home -- because they have small children, perhaps, or because they live too far from suitable employers -- can engage in meaningful, paying work. Because women stay home with children more than men do, cottage industries benefit more women than men.

Lower Costs

Operating a business out of the home means fewer start-up costs and lower operating costs. Business owners don't need to pay rent and utilities for a business location or rent out the use of a commercial kitchen. They may save money on childcare if their children can be in the home during work hours. Anyone the business employs works either at the home of the business owner or at his own home, saving money on gasoline for traveling farther to work, extended childcare, work clothes, lunches, parking and other typical working expenses.

Fewer Regulations

Businesses that operate from home generally are not subject to as many regulations as those that operate in strictly business locations. This translates to less hassle, easier start-ups and fewer overhead costs. Even home baking businesses, which previously were not permitted or had stringent regulations governing them, can now operate much more freely from home, thanks to laws recently passed in many states. This doesn't mean cottage industries have no regulations -- they usually need licenses or permits of some kind -- but the rules governing them are fewer and less strict.

Economic Opportunity

Cottage industries bring increased economic opportunities to individuals and communities. In some areas of the U.S. and the world, cottage industries make the difference between poverty and stability. When given the opportunity to produce items for sale on a manageable scale, many types of creative producers can earn money from work they enjoy doing.

Unique Products

Since items made in cottage industries are created one by one, rather than mass produced, they offer buyers handmade quality. Many products are unique or slightly different because they are handmade. Yet, due to their lower overhead costs, items made by cottage industries are not necessarily more expensive than manufactured items.