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News and tips for Canada's renters, home buyers, home sellers and property managers.

4 Jun 2013

Ah, running your own business from home. In the current economic climate, it seems like a dream come true. Roll out of bed whenever you want? Check. Wear pyjamas to the office? Check. Not worrying abo

Ah, running your own business from home. In the current economic climate, it seems like a dream come true. Roll out of bed whenever you want? Check. Wear pyjamas to the office? Check. Not worrying about being laid off? Check. Running a Business from Your Apartment

In fact, according to Statistics Canada’s 2011 Labour Force Survey, the number of self-employed workers in Canada was 2,656,800. That is a hefty number, and chances are you may be one of these people (or you are contemplating becoming one!). However, before you delve into the world of self-employment and home offices, there are a few things you should know.

Zoning Laws:

Depending on what type of business you are planning on running, you may be barred from doing so based on zoning laws. For example, if you plan to have customers coming in and out of your apartment doing business with you, the local zoning laws may prohibit it (after all, apartments are zoned for living in – not for doing business out of). Before you start your business, check to see what the zoning laws are.

Read your Lease:

Perhaps your city’s zoning laws do allow you to run a business from your home – but what does your lease say? You may be prohibited from doing so. If you are, you will need to speak with your landlord or rental company to obtain their approval to start your business. This will need to be in writing! A verbal agreement will not be enough if you don’t want to run into problems in the future.

Licenses, Permits and Insurance:

You are probably starting to detect a pattern here – starting your own business involves a lot of paperwork. If you are serious about your home business, you will need to obtain the proper licenses and permits just like a regular brick and mortar business would do. These not only protect you legally for insurance purposes, but will cover you in the event the city comes knocking to make sure you are running your business according to the law.

Set-Up:

Do you have the space necessary to run a business from your apartment? This is a very important item on your checklist if your business will be dealing in physical items like baked goods or crafts. You need to be able to store the items somewhere, lest your home ends up becoming overrun with product. Invest in a storage space if your building does not have one available, or inquire about upgrading your suite to a two bedroom if you would like a room that can be used specifically for your own office.

Remember – it is important to keep your landlord in the loop about your business plans and any changes that may happen over the course of its growth. Being honest and upfront with them will go a long way to ensuring that your business can run smoothly and, hopefully, become profitable!

The Government of Canada’s Canada Business Network provides more tips for starting your home business!

The idea of working at home appeals to many people, but before you decide to start a home-based business, there are a few things to consider. Launching a business in your home could be ideal, depending on the space you require and the nature of your work. You should make sure that this arrangement suits both your personal and professional needs.

You may be drawn to the advantages of working from your home. After all, it is cheaper than renting more space. You may also be able to claim tax deductions when you use your home as a place of work (for example, a portion of property taxes, utilities, repairs and maintenance, home insurance and a portion of your mortgage interest or rent). You could avoid a commute and perhaps be able to set flexible working hours.

However, running a home-based business is not for everyone. Ask yourself a few questions to determine whether having a home-based business is right for you:

• Will working on your own suit your personality? Some people prefer to be in the company of colleagues.

• Do you have the self-discipline to motivate yourself, even when business is quiet?

• Will you encounter difficulties in setting boundaries between your personal life and your business role? Will you face interruptions from family and friends?

• Are there any legal or health restrictions that pertain to working out of your apartment or house?

• Is there enough room for any special equipment or extra help?

• Will there be room to expand if need be? How will you address this when the time comes?

When you decide you are ready to launch your home-based business, these suggestions might make the process easier:

• Review provincial and federal health, safety and taxation regulations.

• Check municipal by-laws and determine whether your area is zoned for operating a business, particularly if you plan to deal with the public or have non-family-members working out of your home.

• Designate a specific area of your residence as your workspace (as removed as possible from the ebb and flow of your household activities).

• Try not to let chores or other distractions take you away from your work and interrupt your productivity.

• Avoid letting the less formal setting interfere with your professionalism.

• Be available to your clients by keeping a consistent schedule and getting back to them in a timely fashion.

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The RentSeeker.ca Team