Real Business Operations

Let’s talk a little about businesses and licensing and that sort of shit.

As far as most United States governments are concerned, there are four kinds of places, and they all have different rules and regulations around them. These four kinds of places are Residential, Agricultural, Commercial, and Industrial.

Residential zones are where people live. It’s where their children play. School buses come through here. People get up at reasonable times in the morning and go to bed at reasonable times of the night. You’re expected to pretty much be quiet and respectful all the time.

Agricultural zones are where crops are grown and livestock kept. People still live here, and their children still play here, but they’re usually up with the sun and make use of large-scale machinery as a matter of course. A couple times a year, the time depending on what sort of livestock or crops are being raised, large shipments will be sent or received. No clients or customers come by unannounced.

Commercial zones are where goods are sold and customers serviced. People don’t normally live here; they work here. Clients and customers frequently arrive on a walk-in basis, without appointments. At infrequent intervals, and usually outside of business hours, large shipments will be received to replenish stock. During the night, these zones are generally unoccupied except by security personnel.

Industrial zones are where goods are manufactured and shipped. Like commercial zones, people don’t live here; they work here… but the facility often operates 24 hours a day. Walk-in clients and customers are almost unheard of; the noise level is usually high, and large shipments are made and received at all hours.

When you really look at these, there are a few common threads: large shipments, hours of operation, and arrival of clients or customers.

These are basically what governments care about when it comes to your business, and it’s how you should frame your discussion with state, county, and local governments about running a business at home. Another thing they care a lot about is signage – there are usually zoning laws about how large the sign can be.

What you want to make clear for the average home-based business is that you will not be making large shipments, your hours of operation will be sensible daylight hours, you will not be receiving walk-in clients or customers, and there will be no sign on the property.

Be aware of whether you are within the limits of a city or incorporated township. If you are, you’ll need to contact them about licensing. You will undoubtedly need to contact your county and state, since you’re always within the borders of those.

So the question usually comes up, “do I need a business licence?” – and the response is also a guestion, “are you starting a business?”

You don’t have to start a business, you know. You can just dabble. You have every right in the world to dick around with whatever you like for money, without having any intention of starting a business. There is pretty much nowhere in America that you can’t sell most property and services for money without a licence.

But if you mean to start a business, get a damn licence.

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