How Kafkaesque is it to run a commercial business out of one's own home?
June 28, 2019 11:30 AM   Subscribe

I would like to run an LLC out of my home, including meeting with clients onsite. Where can I go to figure out what hoops I need to jump through and how in order to do this legally? OR, does anyone have feedback around what the risks are of doing this without crossing all the ts and dotting all the is of beaurocracy/zoning/??? Municipality in question is Minneapolis, MN.
posted by kitarra to Work & Money (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You need to tell your home insurance you’re running a business out of your home and that you will be meeting clients there; expect your rates to go up, perhaps significantly.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:48 AM on June 28, 2019

I'm in Toronto so may not be of helpful, but I run a "record store" out of my loft. Link is in my profile. I have previously managed stores for other people and owned my own shop so if you're curious about one vs the other, feel free to ask specific questions.
posted by dobbs at 12:17 PM on June 28, 2019

I would go the planning department and find out what the zoning requirements are - don't assume that your best option is to ignore it and hope you don't get caught. When I had a consulting business with no clients coming to the home, it wasn't an issue, just some paperwork.
posted by metahawk at 12:34 PM on June 28, 2019

If your home is in a subdivision under the control of an HOA, there may be rules that prohibit running a business from your home in a way that brings customers to your home. Some HOAs will permit a home-based business so long as it doesn't bring customers to your home.
posted by John Borrowman at 12:40 PM on June 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here's a 2015 article called Rules for home-based businesses in Minneapolis from 2015. Obviously, figure out what's changed, but it might give you a place to start
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:50 PM on June 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, specifically: "Home-based businesses in Minneapolis are limited to one nonresident employee, and to no more than five clients or customers per day, per dwelling unit."
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:51 PM on June 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

There should be an office of the Small Business Administration in your area.
The town may have someone helpful, maybe in the zoning office. You don't have to give your particulars.
posted by theora55 at 4:59 PM on June 28, 2019

The biggest problem will be bringing clients home. That may drive the neighbors mad.

Easy solution: it's extremely normal to have business meetings at Starbucks, specifically. Other coffee shops are fine too, but Starbucks has the Professional Aura.

Formal meeting spaces are very available and often less expensive than you expect.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:20 PM on June 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Minneapolis has many well appointed co-working spaces. When I started my consulting business I looked into using my home office as a primary client meeting space. The increase in insurance and potential to irritate my neighbors wasn’t attractive. I also thought my clients (midsize corporate execs) might find the setup unprofessional. (May have been different if I had an office space with a dedicated entrance that was visually separated from my home.) Finally, a co-working space downtown was much more convenient for my clientbase.

Co-working space is tax deductible in most cases. The convenience and the community made it well worth it.
posted by Kalatraz at 12:26 PM on June 30, 2019

I usually work from a home studio, but I meet clients at a co-working space or restaurant of mutual convenience.

I have two teenagers so keeping the pass through areas of my dwelling up to a professional level of cleanliness is often challenging. I wouldn’t want to spend the moments before a client arrives running around the house in a mad dash for higher levels of presentability. With off-site meetings i don’t waste energy stressing over the house, so I can focus that energy on stressing about where I’ll park.
posted by Construction Concern at 7:53 PM on June 30, 2019

You might consider contacting the City of Minneapolis Small Business Team , as their mandate is to "make it easy for you to successfully start, sustain, and grow your business in Minneapolis."

If that city department can't help you navigate the issue, you might consider contacting your city council member's office. I know a couple of the policy aides in those offices and these are the kinds of questions they like to address for constituents - at the very least, they should be willing to help you navigate the system and see what options are available for you from a licensing standpoint.
posted by elmer benson at 10:02 AM on July 1, 2019

Depending on the business, you also might need to look for rules at the state level as well. My wife is currently doing nails out of our home, and the rules pertaining specially to running a home based beauty business here (separate entry, separate sink and bathroom, etc, etc.) all come from California, rather than Orange County and/or Irvine, although they have their own rules as well. Minnesota might require special stuff depending on your type of work.

But, as Kalatraz mentions above, a dedicated coworking space (WeWork or the like) is really the way to go, if you can afford it.
posted by sideshow at 9:25 PM on July 1, 2019

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