When you launch a business, a suitable place to operate is a key piece. For many owners, their garage is an obvious solution. It represents additional square footage that won’t displace their living space.
There are many advantages to starting a business in your garage, starting with the savings. “When you start a business, the last thing you want to do is spend any money that you do not have,” says MJ Gottlieb, an entrepreneur and founder of Fishbowl.
“By working in a garage, entrepreneurs can make and mix, revise and improve their product, service, and/or idea without increasing their bills.”
The lack of a commute and the ability to choose your own hours are other pluses. But if you want a successful business using this handy space with its advantages, there are a few steps you’ll probably have to take to get your garage ready.
1. Choose a Business That Fits in Your Garage.
Not all businesses will run successfully out of a garage. For example, a business attorney would lose credibility if he held meetings with clients in his carport, but an auto or bike repair operation would fit perfectly in that space.
Most manual labor jobs are a great fit for a garage, but those aren’t the only options. Many other businesses can be set in your garage to start. An online retail, computer or phone repair, graphic design, tutoring, virtual assistant, or social media management firm are all possibilities.
2. Clean and Organize the Space.
When your office is located in your garage, it shouldn’t resemble the oil-stained, disorganized chaos of many home carports. It must be neat, sanitary, and organized to sustain a good reputation for your business. A good cleaning can go a long way to making your garage a productive operation.
3. Check Local Laws.
Most municipalities have zoning laws that dictate whether you can have a business in your home. “Zoning laws, also known as zoning ordinances, define 1) what types of land use is allowed for a given area and 2) building regulations such as maximum building size or the need for fire escapes,” explains Edward Daciuk of FitSmallBusiness.
“If you’re starting a business, you need to be familiar with the zoning laws that cover your building and area.” Check with your local municipal ordinances before you announce your garage as an office space. The city might make an exception in a residential neighborhood if you file the right paperwork.
4. Know the Risks.
Inviting people onto your property for business purposes can put you at risk for a personal injury lawsuit. If someone gets hurt on your property, he or she can sue.
Unfortunately, scammers sometimes prey on small businesses, managing to injure themselves and then suing the company owner to cover damages. Small businesses don’t often have adequate protection and become targets.
Prepare for the risks of running a business from your own home. Try to have the proper liability insurance coverage, and post signs to protect yourself from those who might wish you harm.
5. Expect Long Hours.
When you run a business from home, a separation between personal life and work may be all but impossible to maintain. Launching a business requires many extra hours, and when you work from home, it’s hard not to spend every minute on your startup.
Every novice entrepreneur can expect to spend long hours on the business, but don’t neglect your personal life. Family, friends, and home life are just as important, and ignoring them puts you at risk of losing your support system or burning out.
6. Roll with the Punches.
You’ll make mistakes. Things will go wrong. But don’t let that derail your momentum. Roll with the punches, learn from your mistakes, and use each misstep to shape your future positively.
Business owners who committed errors and barreled forward tend to be the most successful. It’s all about solving problems and developing the skills necessary to make it work.
7. Be Prepared to Move On When Necessary.
If your garage-based business becomes a success, you’ll likely grow out of the space. Be ready and willing to move on when the time comes.
Eventually, you’ll need a larger space for more employees. The overhead will be higher, but it raises your greater earning potential.
Initiating a business out of your garage can be a great start. If you have the necessary tools to clean the space and apply the skills you’ve learned from starting a business, you should have no problem succeeding.