Get set up properly to start a home business

The number of home-based businesses is rising fast in reaction to corporate retrenchments and job losses, higher fuel costs and worsening traffic congestion in major centres.

But the "residential entrepreneurs" who own these businesses must tread carefully to avoid some common property blunders associated with home-based start-ups, says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group.

"For example, once you've chosen a business you love and believe will be well supported in your community, you must ensure that your home has the correct zoning and/ or consent from your local authority to accommodate the business - especially if it involves any kind of manufacturing.

"And if you're going to turn your garage into a shop or serve teas on your front veranda, for example, you'll need the relevant retail or trading licence."

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, he says that for other types of business, you'll need to think about storage space for supplies or finished goods, and remember that some things - like explosives - are not allowed to be stored in a residential area.

"Then there's the question of actual workspace. Even professionals like accountants or lawyers or those who have established an online business and can work just about anywhere should make sure they have a dedicated workspace in the home.

"Apart from needing this for tax purposes, you'll be much more productive if you make a clear distinction between your living and working spaces, and between your domestic and working schedules."

Everitt says small-office home-office (SOHO) experts also advise that your workspace should contain businesslike furniture as well as the best business technology you can afford - and not too many personal effects, especially if clients are going to visit for briefings or meetings. You should also install a separate phone line for your business.

"And finally, don't forget that if your business is successful it will grow, and you will then probably need more space for additional staff, storage or sales. You should plan for this and be prepared to move premises rather than let the business take over your home."

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