Melanie Nathan
Home office

The Small Business Administration estimates that nearly half of all small businesses currently operating in the United States are classified as some type of home or apartment-based business.

Downsizing related to a slowing economy, higher cost-of-living expenses, the desire to spend more time with family, and the dream of being their own boss are the top four reasons why people aren’t deterred from starting a business from their cramped apartment.

If you are ready to make the move from working for a boss in the corporate world to working for yourself out of your apartment, there are a few important things to keep in mind on your journey to becoming an apartment entrepreneur.

Legal Issues to Consider

Zoning Laws: Cities, towns, and counties have zoning laws in place that dictate where businesses can operate. Zoning laws designate certain areas as either for residential only use, business or commercial use, and mixed-use. Find out which zone your apartment building falls into.

Local Ordinances: Check to ensure that your proposed apartment business idea complies with all local ordinances and codes. Examples of issues to take into consideration include:

  • Business hours of operation
  • Noise ordinances
  • Building fire codes and other safety issues
  • Number of employees allowed
  • Insurance requirements
  • Homeowner Association bylaws
  • Flow of traffic
  • Parking issues

Lease Agreement: Review the contents of your lease to make sure operating a business out of your apartment does not place you in violation of your lease agreement. Go one step further and contact your landlord to make certain there are no objections to you running an apartment-based business. Discuss any reservations your landlord may have and offer tangible solutions to their concerns.

Business License and Permit Requirements: Whether or not you will need a business license or permit to operate a business from your apartment will depend on the state, county, and city or town you live in. The licensing and permit rules will also depend on what kind of business you will be operating. The rules for running an apartment-based catering business will differ from those that apply to running an internet services business. Check with local and state government offices for license and permit requirements where you live.


Often Overlooked Considerations to Keep in Mind

Ensuring your apartment-based business is in compliance with local and state legal requirements is just one aspect to consider before opening for business. In order to give your business venture the best opportunity for success, take a moment to also consider the following:

Privacy Requirements: If the nature of your apartment-based business is one that requires a certain level of discretion, such as massage therapy or legal consulting, ensuring your client's privacy needs are met is an essential business consideration. Your business plan should include provisions for noise dampening equipment (eg. soundproofing panels), privacy screening (eg. blackout blinds), or other necessary devices to protect the sensitive nature of your clientele's business.

Internet Service Dependability: Having operated an e-commerce business out of an apartment, I cannot stress this last one enough. If your business is dependent on having a reliable connection to the internet, it is crucial that you investigate the type of internet your building is wired for and strength of the signal in each area of your apartment.

Very real factors that can interfere with internet signal strength and reliability in an apartment building include the distance of your apartment from the router, signal interference from electrical sources such as HVAC systems, and metal components in the walls blocking the signal. You may need to purchase additional equipment to help boost the strength of your internet signal to make sure you have access to reliable internet services.

Do Your Homework

If your apartment building does not include internet services as part of your lease, it is vital that you perform research in order to choose an internet service provider (ISP) that has a solid reputation for quickly resolving any issues that may crop up. Choose a provider that offers adequate bandwidth to handle the anticipated volume of traffic your business will generate. Ask about how quickly they resolve unexpected service interruptions.

Becoming your own boss is an admirable goal that more and more people are striving to accomplish. Taking the time to perform thorough research into these important areas of an apartment-based business can go a long way towards helping to give your business the best possible start on the road to success.



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