It is tough to run a home business. Not only are resources oftentimes limited, but home businesses face a barrage of challenges from government itself! Despite claims that majority of small businesses are operated from homes, the government has not really made it easy for ordinary folks to start and run a business from home.
For one, there is the perennial question of zoning laws. We often read or hear stories of those wanting to operate a business from home, but has to go through the eye of a needle in getting a zoning permit. In a recent news story in Pittsburgh PA, a woman in the Monroeville area cannot get permission from her zoning board to operate a daycare business from home. Once neighbors fear these three things — the business would add too much traffic, create too much noise and reduce the value of their properties — then the would-be home business owner is assured of an extremely tough battle ahead in the zoning board.
Nonetheless, there is hope. A growing number of communities are reassessing the contributions of home businesses in their localities, and amending their laws accordingly. In Shrewsbury NJ, for example, the borough recently introduced an amendment to the borough’s administrative codes that sanctions home-based businesses, “as long as they don’t infringe upon the rights of neighbors.” They recognize that recent advancements in technology such as Internet, broadband cable, cellular communications and computers have made it easier for people to operate a business from home. The amendment also clarified the definitions of various activities from home that results in economic gain:
- A home business is defined as one that offers products or merchandise for sale and has more than one employee;
- Home occupations are identified as businesses in which the services of the occupant are offered on-site to clients, patients, patrons or customers; and
- Home office use provides a service that does not include a product or merchandise for sale.
Given the difficulties and uncertainties in dealing with the zoning boards, many home business owners instead hide the fact that they are running a business from their homes — until a nosy neighbor complains and they are then forced to come out of the closet.