How to Operate a Business Out of Your Own Home

Small businesses are the heartbeat of the American economy. While it’s the large corporations who get most of the publicity, it’s the thousands of smaller businesses who keep things running smoothly. For many people, the best place to start is from the comfort of your own home. If you’re considering starting a home-based business, have you thought about everything you’ll need?

Check Zoning Laws

Before you get started, do you know if your home is zoned for business? Your investigation should begin at the local zoning office, and you should ask for copies of ordinances pertaining to home occupations. According to Christopher Hansen, president of the Home Based Business Council, Inc., “Avoid the word ‘business’ at all costs,” as it’s a red flag for zoning officials.

If you’re part of a homeowner’s association, it’s also wise to check any restrictions. Be careful, and avoid giving specifics if you fear your neighbors will dislike a business based on their street.

In some cases, you may run into some trouble, either with the local zoning board or homeowners association. Fortunately, in both situations you can request a special exception or variance. You’ll want to find out exactly what the issue is and prove your operation will be a “no-impact” business. For example, show it won’t increase traffic or make any physical changes to the property.

Consider Your Workspace

Once you have the legal aspect squared away, it’s time to focus on your workspace. Not every home is conducive to running a business. Have you considered where your office will be and if it’s an ideal location for getting work accomplished? Unique Builders & Development, Inc., a Houston-based professional home remodeling company, knows many problems can arise when establishing a home office. People think they can work from their kitchen table or unused basement, then realize it’s anything but ideal. Whether you realize it or not, you need a dedicated workspace that’s secluded, practical, and professional.

  • Secluded. First and foremost, you need a room that is shut off from the rest of your home. Preferably, it should be located far from the loudest areas of your home. However, if you can’t find a room that’s tucked away, at least make sure it has a door that can close. When things get stressful, you need to have a quiet place to focus.
  • Practical. Second, your office needs to be a practical workspace. If you use a computer all day, it should be as simple as having room for the proper equipment. On the other hand, if you’re storing inventory and building products, there needs to be enough room to handle everything.
  • Professional. Finally, the workspace should be professional. This means it doesn’t double as your bedroom or entertainment room; it should be somewhere you feel comfortable meeting with clients.

Prepare People for Your New Occupation

Most people will be excited about your new business, but it’s important to have frank conversations with your family, friends, and neighbors. Ensure everyone knows that just because you’re working at home, doesn’t mean you aren’t busy. Your children should know when they can and can’t reach you, neighbors shouldn’t expect you to watch their dogs while on vacation, and friends shouldn’t just drop in because they’re in the neighborhood.

There are certainly dozens – and even hundreds – of other factors to consider, but these are a few of the most pressing. Keep these in mind and you’ll set yourself up for success!