Technology has evolved to make life easier for entrepreneurs. Office spaces are no longer necessary for running a small business. You can start a company from your house and base your entire operations there, if that’s what you’d prefer.
To that end, some entrepreneurs build businesses in their garages and work solely in that space. And in all fairness, the garage is an ideal part of the house to start a company, but it also comes with its own set of specific challenges.
Here’s what to expect when starting a business in your garage.
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Challenges of Starting a Business in Your Garage
Apple originated in Steve Jobs’ garage before moving to an office building. Even the Apple founders faced some of these six challenges working out of a garage.
1. You Must Comply With Regulations
Before starting a business, entrepreneurs must check with local regulations to ensure it’s legal. Zoning laws are particular to each city and may prevent you from starting a business at home. If you operate a business anyway, expect city officials to assess fines or close your shop.
The laws depend on what city you live in, with some municipalities being stricter than others. Most cities allow small businesses to operate at home if they double as your residence and don’t disturb your neighbors.
Entrepreneurs allowed to work in their garages must go through red tape. This stage can be tedious, with most cities requiring a lot of paperwork for taxes, permits and other regulations. Being patient is essential because that red tape can take weeks or months to clear.
2. You’ll Have Distractions at Home
Working in a garage puts business owners close to their families. Some may see this as a perk because you get more time with your partner and children. However, the odds of distraction increase. Young children might have a hard time understanding they can’t disturb their parents even when they’re at home.
Another distraction could come in the form of a mindset shift. Most people associate home with relaxation and the office with productivity. Working in a garage could be difficult for some entrepreneurs because it blurs the line between work and home. Instead of working, you may
feel the urge to wash the dishes or vacuum the living room. These distractions are less common in typical office buildings.
3. You’ll Have Limited Space
Once the company is up and running, it’s time to build your clientele and procure your relationships. Meeting in person is optimal because you don’t have to worry about bad internet connections and miscommunication. Problems arise when clients and employees arrive for appointments, and the garage has limited space. How will you manage this issue?
Limited space in the garage also makes it easier to become cluttered and unorganized. Paperwork, tools, shelves and other supplies create unkempt appearances, so keeping the place tidy can take time and effort.
4. Converting the Garage Can Be Tedious
With some shifty maneuvering, entrepreneurs can convert small garage spaces into a home office. Unfortunately, you’ll have to move your car to the driveway or the curb to make everything fit. Transforming the garage into a workspace can be challenging, but it’s doable with these tips:
- Cleaning the space: First, you need to clean up and organize. Homeowners typically have boxes, tools and other items occupying space in the garage. Move your belongings to a closet or a backyard shed for more room.
- Installing an HVAC: Some garages don’t have heating or cooling, so you’ll need to install an HVAC system. Space heaters and fans may be a temporary fix, but you don’t want the temperature to compromise your electronics.
- Checking the internet: Where are the router and modem located? Connecting to the internet from the garage could be difficult, considering the distance and walls hindering the connection. Check with your internet service provider (ISP) for a signal booster to enhance your speed around the house.
5. There Are Security Concerns
Small businesses in a garage typically don’t have the luxury of security officers and a heavily fortified infrastructure. Security concerns are legitimate for entrepreneurs in their garages because they’re easier for criminals to infiltrate. Garage doors may have sturdy locks, motion sensor lights and other protective measures. However, the garage is more attractive for thieves because they can get in and out easier.
Another concern for small businesses is cybersecurity. Entrepreneurs must be tech-savvy enough to protect their companies from online threats. Research shows about 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses because thieves view them as easier to infiltrate. Business
owners must be careful and implement safe practices, such as not opening suspicious attachments.
6. You May Compromise Your Health
Working in a garage can reduce or eliminate commutes and help entrepreneurs get more work done. However, it could come at the expense of their physical and mental health. Reducing your commute means you’re not walking to work, taking the bus or strolling around the office.
Your physical health could also take a hit if you don’t have an ergonomic setup. A survey of 2,000 remote workers finds 60% of these employees cut their mobility in half. About half report increases in back, shoulder and eye strain.
5 Tips for Starting a Business in a Garage
- Set up a workspace conducive to productivity, including adjustable desks and ergonomic chairs.
- Make use of every inch you have and stay organized. A small space can work with the proper maneuvering.
- Take breaks to get out of the house and prevent burnout.
- Learn from other entrepreneurs who also have home-based businesses.
- Personalize your garage office to make it feel special and inviting for your clients and employees.
The SuN Takeaway
Steve Jobs and his Apple co-founders started a business in their garage without the innovative technology entrepreneurs have today. Even with help, getting your company off the ground and running can be difficult. These six challenges stand in the way of small business owners starting in their garage.