Many entrepreneurs don’t consider home business zoning laws when they first get started planning their future enterprises. Why would they? Their minds are filled with thoughts of making it big, of attaining dozens, hundreds or even thousands of potential clients, and then of course there is the euphoria that accompanies the act of branching out on your own for the first time. It feels pretty darn good to slough off the traditional day job. The problem is that this lack of foresight and avoidance of attention has come to bite many a business owner right in the rump. It is only when the average entrepreneur gets the business of the ground and actually starts to make the honest mistake of forgetting about home business zoning laws that those laws begin to rear their ugly heads. Those ugly heads can be expensive, too, resulting in fines and, in some cases, jail time. Let’s look at a few zoning restrictions that you may need to consider when starting a business; you know, that is, if you hope to avoid fines, jail and all the trouble that business zoning laws traditionally end up causing.
Business Zoning is Mostly About Keeping Up Appearances
Home business zoning laws usually originate because of complaints that have been lodged by neighbors. Mr. Smith may have complained because his neighbor felt that starting a business was more important than his prized magnolias. This may have been caused by Mr. Smith’s neighbor building an extension onto his house that made the person’s home business environment much larger.
Mrs. Rosen may have lodged a complaint with the home business zoning board because her neighbor was playing music at all hours of the night. Mr. Thurgood couldn’t find a parking place because of his neighbor’s limo business and the entire neighborhood complained one time because one neighbor’s home business involved a spotlight that kept everyone in town up at night.
The lesson is that, when starting a business and if you hope to remain within all of the home business zoning laws, think of your neighbors. Here are a few of the home business zoning restrictions you should be aware of, along with what you can do to keep from angering – or receiving zoning complaints from -your neighbors.
1. No Outside Signage: Most zoning boards don’t want you to advertise to the entire neighborhood that you are starting a business. Whether you hope to open a massage business, a bakery or a spy agency, keep it on the down-low to keep business zoning authority figures and neighbors alike as happy as can be .
2. No Outward Displays of Any Kind: Starting a business from your home usually means that all business processes need to be conducted within the four very walls that make up the house in which you live. In other words, you can’t have a bank of storage units on your lawn; you can’t fix cars for customers in your driveway and you certainly can’t convert your entire street into a film studio.
If you want to remain within home business zoning laws, you oftentimes can’t even expand on a building that exists on your own property without filling out the appropriate zoning forms. Some business zoning restrictions even restrict how much odor can emanate from your home before the appropriate authorities are notified.
3. Be Respectful of the Environment: If you happen to be starting a business that involves dumping toxic waste in the creek that runs behind your house or you plan to test the effects of high-pitched, amplified noises on local bird populations, you are going to going to draw the ire of the local business zoning department faster than you can say, “Public Nuisance.”
So if you plan on starting a business, keep your neighbors in mind. Think of ways that your business can become a tad more inconspicuous and envision a few ways that your business can coexist with your neighbors while you fulfill your entrepreneurial dreams. Most of all, while you are in the process of planning your business and before you even open your doors to the pubic – whether those doors are physical in nature, virtual or both – head on down to the local home business zoning department and fill out everything you need to in order to remain well within the law.
Your neighbors will thank you and so will your bottom line, because you won’t be spending a dime on bail, fines or corrections to your original business zoning plan.
Image Source: North Charleston on Flickr
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