Starting a business at home can be a great incubator. Instead of having to rent out expensive office space, aspiring entrepreneurs can be their own boss and start testing their ideas in the marketplace, and with lower overhead costs and greater flexibility.
But in Portland, Oregon, strict regulations limit any chance of major growth or profitability. A home-based business can only receive eight customers or clients in one day (yes, just eight). Home-based business also can’t use more than one vehicle, operate any type of dispatch service, or primarily sell retail goods (the latter has to be sold entirely as accessories).
Moreover, home businesses can only have one employee who isn’t a resident and only if that business does not accept any on-site customers. And before entrepreneurs can even receive clients or customers at home, they first need to procure a “Type B Home Occupation” permit (and possibly a city business license as well), shell out nearly $150 and have their home inspected by the city.
Across the country, thousands of Americans work as home-based hair stylists, music teachers, tutors, and in many other occupations. In fact, iconic companies as diverse as Apple, Mattel and FUBU all began with humble origins in their founders’ garages and living rooms.
Instead of micromanaging their clients and employees, Portland should ease up on home-based businesses. Meanwhile, to address concerns about noise, smell or congestion, nuisance ordinances would be a better policy solution than outright bans. As Portland’s world-famous food cart scene has shown, entrepreneurs and creativity thrive when they aren’t stifled by the government.
For more examples of government gone awry, visit IJAsksWhy.com.