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Starting Business from Home

Hello Everyone,

I want to start my jewelry business this year - - but can’t afford
to rent studio and shop space yet. So my studio is in my garage and
I’m thinking of launching a web site to sell my works, and also try
to sell through local shops or galleries, word of mouth, etc. The
thing is, I live in suburban NJ and I’m pretty sure the zoning laws
in my town would not allow running a business from my home,
technically. I’ve been trying to research what to do (without going
to town hall and giving myself away) and it seems like most of the
advice I get is along the lines of "do it but keep a low profile."
The thing is, I worry that once I register my business name, have
business cards, do taxes, start to get mail in the business’ name,
etc, that I will somehow get caught and “in trouble”. I’m not sure
what could actually happen. Also, I’m concerned about insurance. I
haven’t told our agent about this yet, nor about the torch/tank set
up in the garage for fear of losing coverage.

Has anyone out there in Orchidland started their business in their
home in a highly populated suburban/urban area? If so, how did you
deal with these kinds of start-up issues?

Thanks for all your wisdom!
(I wish I could go to Tucson - - maybe next year!)


Hi Nan

I have been working from my home for forteen years I get all the
mail for the business here I also have had employees working here
and have rented shop space to other artists I never even asked
permission I figure it is my house and I will do what I want I have
a whole machine shop and run a small foundry in my backyard the
blast furnace shoots flames ten feet high when I really crank it up
and I used to have a power hammer that made a tremendous amount of
noise that I would use frequently. My neighbors have never said a
word and the guy at the end of the street is a fireman. I have no
idea what my home owners policy says about running a business out of
the house but I have been robbed five times and they have always
paid and never raised my rates or dropped me Criminals know I am a
jeweler and have targeted my house the way i have since stopped the
burgleries is by leaving all doors open and the radio on as well as
the lights they think I am home all the time which is pretty much
the case but when i am not it still looks like it I have three cars
so a couple are always here as well. I want to get out of my house
so bad it hurts I have been looking to buy a place for a couple of
years not a retail location just somehwhere to go everyday that is
not at my house. If you can find someone to share with i would
recomend it because having customers come to your house everyday and
the phone ringing off the hook is a real pain they know you are
their so they call and stop by whenever so you are always at work.

sincerely Kevin (the house hostage)

i opened a buisness in north jersey, non-commercial zone, populated
area, in my basement, registered, tax id#, but i am the sole
proprieter, and only employee, and i keep a pretty low profile,
only work at night, cause i have a day job, no one ever checked on
me, carve alot of wood and blow wood dust into a bag outside the
basement window into a fenced in area, pretty loud, but you can’t
see it, and it’s right on a school ground, so in my case i couldn’t
work during school hours, unless i brought it inside, and so i
always hope for inclement weather also, to work, that’s a
lifestyle, huh

For a variety of reasons, it’s a good idea to have a PO Box.
Privacy and security being two of them.

Check into your town’s rules. Many towns are updating their
regulations about home businesses since more and more people are
working at home. The usual rule is that the business can’t “change
the character” of the area. So, you couldn’t be a mechanic and have
20 cars out front, and you can’t have semi-truck deliveries.

Remember, it’s never a good idea to lie to your insurance agent.
They already thought of that. If your house or garage burns down
because of your torch, they will find the charred shell of your
tank, note that you never told them about it, and remind you that
since you lied on your application (by withholding that
your policy is void.

There are lots of insurance companies out there besides (large
national company) that you probably have. Some are nicer to deal
with and more reasonable.

Perhaps you could visit your local Small Business Administration
SCORE office for advice without “giving yourself away.”

You register your business name with the state, not your town. I’m
not telling you what to do, but I doubt that your town has enough
time to track you down and hassle you, as long as you’re keeping a
low profile and not changing the character of the area and people
aren’t complaining.

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Excellent advice, Elaine, especially about insurance. One could pay
premiums for YEARS, and then have them disallow a claim. Insurance
companies almost always look for a way to weasel out. Don’t give
them one.

My only caution would be to check YOUR locality re: fictitious
business name. Here in City of Los Angeles, COUNTY of LA does that,
business license is City, various other govt. entities get their cut,

David Barzilay
Lord of the Rings
607 S Hill St Ste 850
Los Angeles, CA 90014-1718

    You register your business name with the state, not your town.

This, I believe, is entirely dependent on where you are. In my state
(Michigan) you register your DBA name with the county (you
incorporate with the state) and they check it against and put it
instantly into a state databasebut they can happily register 2
or 3 or whatever number of business DBAs with the exact same (and/or
a very similar) name as long as it doesn’t appear that consumers will
be confused. When I lived in Washington, DC the city registered names
(but, of course, that’s a special case).

I always STRONGLY recommend you find out what the rules are that
apply to you then follow them. What most “codes” want to stop is a
lot of business traffic in residential areas and I suspect most these
days heavily lean toward rather than against “home” workers and
businesses. And if you don’t bother to find out what the rules are
and instead just try to stay under the radar you’re probably far more
likely to shoot yourself in the foot (i.e., foregone profits) than
you are to be limited (or stopped) by the rules. If you are stopped
by the rules then MOVE, vote with your feet----governments DO notice.

James E. White
Inventor, Marketer, and Author of “Will It Sell? How to Determine If
Your Invention Is Profitably Marketable (Before Wasting Money on a
Patent)” Info Sites:,


i don’t know about other states but here in CT you’re allowed the use
of one room in your house for business purposes. most carpenters
plumbers electricians etc.etc. that run small operations are out of
their house anyway so as long as you don’t make a habit of pissing
off your neighbors you should be alright.

one thought on casting. years ago i was a volunteer firefighter. on a
smoke detected call the chief ordered us to axe open the door of a
small jewelry factory that was smokey. despite my advise we were
ordered to hose down a small burnout oven. to them they were seeing a
chimney fire that needed to be put out. the factory owner was pretty
upset when he finally arrived on the scene. it would be a good idea
to allow for adequate venting if you chose to do castings and a call
to your local fire department could save you some trouble.

just my two cents Dave