Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is Your Consulting Business Illegal?

Your consulting business could be illegal if you live in Moscow, Idaho.

The Idaho Business Review reported on their website in a post titled "Telecommuting hits a snag" that a city ordinance in Moscow prohibits certain home-based businesses. The ordinance was passed in 1991 to limit the growth of businesses in residential neighborhoods.

I bring this up because many consultants I know in the Treasure Valley operate out of offices set up in their homes. I certainly have my own opinions about this topic as it relates to consulting, however I'd like to see what you have to say. Feel free to comment and I will respond with my own opinions as well.

Do you feel consulting businesses, especially those that operate out of home offices, should be subject to same rules and regulations other businesses must follow that operate within a given jurisdiction?


Anonymous said...

Frankly, I think the law in Moscow is ridiculous because it pertains to all 'home based' businesses. While there should be guidelines about the types of businesses one could operate 'in home', to take such a broad stand isn't the right thing to do in my opinion. There are certain types of businesses that can effectively operate within the home without any interruption or hazard to the neighborhood and people within the neighborhood.

A few benefits of working from home:
* Helps small business owners keep costs down which allows them to pass along the savings to clients/customers.
* Supports the environment (Go Green!) by reducing traffic, reducing the use of fuel, reducing wear and tear on our roads and highways, etc.
* Can help with work/life balance for people who want to have the flexibility to manage work and home throughout their day/night.
* among other things (to each his own)

Some people might question a consultant working from a home office. They might ask, 'Where do you meet your clients; a coffee shop, your home?' 'Do your clients take you seriously since you don't have a 'real' business / office space?'

For the kind of work I do, I would prefer to meet clients in their office. I can get a feel for the environment (culture). I can see how things are working operationally. It's about 'them', not 'me', so I'd rather come to their territory where they feel comfortable and have people and things readily available to show me if necessary. Also, their time is valuable and I can save them travel time when I go to them. If a client wants to meet somewhere outside of their own office, I have access to virtual space. There are several places in town that will allow you use and/or rent space as needed. A new "Green" virtual office is being built in Meridian (Venga Ventures) that will be leading edge, comfortable and very flexible. In addition, when I'm not with clients I'm often networking so not in the office. Why have an office when you're rarely there? When I am in the office, I'm in front of my computer. That's done quite effectively and efficiently from a home office.

The thing is... as business owners we need to make wise decisions about many things that affect us, our business, and our customers/clients.

Justin Beller said...

Thank you for the thoughtful comments.

I agree. From a customer relationship / service standpoint, consultants need to go to the client and not the other way around. If you have any amount of respect for your client's time, you go to them.