Taking the leap to work from home can feel momentous.
Going from an office environment to one where you're not only on your own but in control of all the details can be a bit of a culture shock. The workday no longer has set hours and motivation won't come from busy co-workers around you.
You're not alone if you've made the decision to take on an apartment-based business. As of 2016, the number of unincorporated self-employed reached 9.6 million, according to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. This particular status of employment covers sole proprietorships without employees. You don't have to register with the state or federal government to launch.
Does this sound like you? If you've got a side hustle to bring in a little extra cash or decided to go freelance and work from home, it could be. Regardless of your motivation for shifting to a home office, there are a few important things to keep in mind. These will ensure your journey to becoming an apartment entrepreneur goes smoothly.
Shifting your career path away from a cubicle and into a home office can feel like a big step. This is especially true if the forces pushing you into an apartment-based business aren't all within your control. While the unemployment rate in the U.S. is currently going down, losing your job can often be that final push into a freelance or consulting role.
Now is a good time to consider the shift if it's something you're already thinking about. The 2017-2018 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shared by Babson College notes that North America has the highest rate of perceived opportunity, 62 percent, when it comes to starting a small business.
This information coupled with key benefits for apartment-based jobs can seal the deal.
“For many self-employed workers, autonomy is the biggest reward. They are able to make their own decisions, such as what kind of work they do, whom they do it for, where and when they do it — and even how much to pay themselves," says Dennis Vilorio from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Other perks of working from home include proximity to your “office," flexibility to spend more time with family and the ability to be your own boss.
With the decision for the shift complete, the next steps include setting up your home office and new business.
Deciding to work for yourself at home includes certain legal considerations. These range from city regulations to rules within your own lease. Before designing a logo and kicking your apartment-based business into high gear, check all the legal angles. This ensures you're allowed to operate a business out of your home.
Every city, town and county will have its own set of zoning laws that relate to where businesses can operate. These laws designate whether a particular area is for residential, business or commercial use.
Mixed-use is also a possibility as apartment communities go up with shops on the ground floor. It's a good idea to check which zone your apartment building falls into before you start your business.
These rules impact your community. They can range in topic and be somewhat obscure, so it's important to verify your apartment business complies with all local ordinances and codes. A few common areas where you'll find these include:
Not all local ordinances may affect your business, especially if you're planning on being a company of one. It's good to know what's out there should someone ask or check up on your operations.
As a tenant, it's a good rule of thumb to check your lease every time you want to do something a little different in your apartment. This includes running a business from your home.
Make sure there's nothing in your lease about not being able to operate a business out of your apartment. Be extra considerate and contact your property manager, too. Make sure there are no objections to your apartment-based business and don't hesitate to discuss any issues with them to manage concerns.
Needing a business license or permit to operate from your apartment depends on the state, county and city where you live. What kind of business you have also impacts licensing and permit rules.
Catering companies face a much different set of rules than an internet services business operating out of the home. Make sure to check with local and state government offices for license and permit requirements for your type of business in your area.
Ensuring your apartment-based business complies with local and state legal requirements is just one aspect to consider before opening for business.
To give your business venture the best opportunity for success, take a moment to also consider the following:
No matter what type of business you run, ensuring your clients' privacy is an essential element for how you manage your business. The amount of sensitive information you'll gain in your files is only one type of privacy to maintain.
If you run a business like massage therapy or legal consulting, you'll have to maintain the physical privacy of clients, as well. Before getting things started, consider what extra tools you'll need to do this, such as:
If your business is dependent on having a reliable connection to the internet, investigate the performance of your existing service before getting too deep into work. What is your building wired for and how strong is that signal on average?
Very real factors can interfere with an internet signal's strength and reliability. This is especially true in an apartment building where everyone is using the same service. It's good to note how far your apartment is from the router since the distance is often a major cause of poor internet signals.
Other causes include interference from electrical sources like HVAC systems and metal within the walls, which will block the signal. If you encounter any of these, you may need to buy extra equipment to help boost your own signal for more reliable internet access.
If your apartment building doesn't include internet service, it's up to you pick an internet service provider. Make sure you do your research on what's available in your local area. You want a provider that resolves issues quickly, has appropriate bandwidth for the work you're doing and can handle spikes in traffic volume your business may generate.
Becoming your own boss is an admirable goal that's growing in appeal to more and more people. “If you operate your business from home, you're not alone," says Anita Campbell from Small Business Trends.
Throughout the U.S., 69 percent of startups begin as home-based businesses, and 59 percent of established businesses remain home-based. This means many people who begin at home continue to work from there long after their business is up and running.
While where you work matters for many reasons, taking the time to research how to legally and effectively run an apartment-based business can go a long way toward jumpstarting your path to success.