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Bad Zoning Laws? Get 'Em Changed!

If your city is giving you trouble, print out this article and bring it to a council meeting to prove the worth of homebased business.
June 1, 2003

Q: How many new businesses are started at home? And what percentage of home businesses typically would have employees or customers who actually come to their home? A neighbor complained about our home business, and we're presenting this information to the city council (a council member requested the information) in an effort to get our zoning codes changed.

A: Seven out of 10 new businesses are started at home, according to a recent Gallup survey, which means that the home is the launching pad for new products and businesses--the engine of the American economy. But as many as four out of five home businesspeople don't spend their workdays at home; they work from home rather that at home--which means they're away from home like their commuting neighbors.

Of the minority of businesses whose work is done at home, most of these have neither employees nor customers coming to their homes. We have found most home businesspeople dislike having an employee in their homes. With the use of technology, many of the tasks employees once did, like secretarial and bookkeeping, are done by the business owner with computers and easy-to-use software. For those who still need hands-on help, many use outside services, like virtual assistants, who do their work on their own premises--usually their homes, too.

So despite the growing number of home businesses in the country, most neighborhoods remain unchanged. Since it appears your council representative is sympathetic, provide the council with ammunition for adopting or changing a fair and effective ordinance regulating home business. Here are the primary arguments:

You may also wish to refer the council to this Web site for planning commissioners:

Paul and Sarah Edwards are the authors of several homebased business books, includingWorking From Home. Their latest book isWhy Aren't You Your Own Boss?