When cash flow is tight, home often becomes the default headquarters for small businesses. For some businesses this arrangement is a natural fit.
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But for others, the cost of leasing business space quickly seems like a small price to pay compared to the larger problem of dealing with unhappy neighbors.
It's important to remember that although it might be convenient to bring your business into your home, your neighbors have a different perspective.
For them, home is the place they go to escape the noises and pressures of the workplace. You should also keep in mind that when the workday is over you still have to live with these people and any hard feelings your business activities have created.
The bottom line is that it's in your best interest to show a little consideration and make peace with your neighbors as quickly as possible. Here's how to do it . . . .
If you're looking for a way to irritate the neighborhood, start scheduling a steady stream of delivery trucks in and out of the neighborhood at all hours of the day and night. Depending on the nature of your business, deliveries may represent a significant portion of your business activities. Unfortunately, delivery trucks can also be a major inconvenience for neighbors, especially if your street is known for peace and quiet. A better approach might be to either rent a post office box or take advantage of a service like Mailboxes Etc.
Clients & Customers
If your business involves selling products retail, don't even try to run the business out of your home. Customer traffic will drive the neighbors crazy and chances are it will violate your municipalities zoning laws. However, if your business is in a service industry and you typically schedule appointments one client at a time, a home-based business probably won't raise any red flags in the neighborhood. Even so, if you can meet clients at their office or another location you should probably do it to avoid unnecessary disruptions.
A lot of home-based entrepreneurs use the garage as their primary storage facility for their business. This can be tricky, particularly if you are regularly transferring items in and out of the garage. If you are only storing a few items that you rarely use in the garage you should be fine. But if you are using the garage as a supply depot, you would be better off renting storage space somewhere else.
As your business grows, you will need to hire employees to keep up. Where will they go? It's possible to base one or two employees out of your house for a while, but once you reach the stage that you need to hire staff it will likely be time to find a more permanent residence for your business.
If your efforts to make peace fail to satisfy your neighbors, try neighborhood mediation as a last resort. Many communities have organizations that specialize in helping neighbors find common ground. The cost is negligible (usually a donation), and it might result in an arrangement that everyone can live with.