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3 Things to Know Before Running a Business from Your Pole Barn

pole barn businessIf you’ve always dreamed of starting your own small business, setting up your business in a pole barn can be a great way to do it. Rather than worrying about paying rent on an expensive commercial property, you could find a low-cost, durable pole barn design and stay close to home to operate your business.

Whether you want to run a wedding venue, farm produce store, antique shop, or anything else, the right pole building design can help you get started. Of course, you have to do more than just post a sign out by the road to run a business from your property. Here are three things you need to consider before setting up a pole barn business:

Do You Have a License for That?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a multimillion dollar company or a small mom-and-pop shop next to your house: if you’re selling goods or providing services, you’re going to need business licenses and permits. The government websites for your city and county should be able to tell you what licenses you need, and the Small Business Administration has a list of licenses you’ll need depending on the state you live in. You should also check local zoning laws—if your pole building business qualifies as a home-based business, you may also need a Home Occupation Permit.

Are You Covered?

Nobody wants to think about something bad happening on their business premises, but you need to be prepared just in case something does go wrong. General liability insurance will help cover you if, for example, someone slips and falls on your property and sues you for personal injury. Small business property insurance will cover you if a natural disaster strikes, destroying your building and the goods inside it.

Hopefully, you’ll never have to file an insurance claim for your pole barn business, but it’s good to know you’ll have protection if you need it!

What Are Your Local Zoning Codes?

Before you start a business in your pole building, you’ll need to see what commercial activity your city and county will allow on your property. Your city or county clerk’s office should be able to get you a copy of local ordinances, and if there’s anything you don’t understand, you can check with the city’s planning department.

If you are permitted to set up shop on your property, there may still be zoning restrictions that affect certain aspects of business, such as:

  • Where and how many cars can be parked at your business
  • Where you can display signs (and how prominent they can be)
  • The hours that you can open your pole building to the public
  • The kinds of materials you can store in your pole building

Not every local zoning law will apply to every type of business, but you should make sure you understand the ones that affect you before you open your doors to paying customers.

Do your research so that your business will be a success. Operating a business from a pole barn is a great way to keep your overhead low, but you need to make sure you’re not running afoul of any state, county, or city regulations.

Multi-Million Dollar Business from a Pole Barn

Back in 2006  Daniel Huang and Shawn Dougherty began the business mStation, making speakers and cases for iPods and mp3 players. Initially located in southern California, they decided to reduce their company’s real estate costs by setting up shop in Dougherty’s pole barn back in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This would allow them to make the best use of the $250,000 they’d bootstrapped.

Pole Barn“I packed up, I went back to Michigan, I bought the house next to my family home and it had a 3,000 square foot pole barn on it,” says Dougherty, Mophie’s COO, in a Forbes magazine interview. Her family’s pole barn – and those of friendly neighbors – provided added space for the burgeoning company’s launch. “We were dropping containers on the property.”

The first year brought in $1 million in sales, selling predominantly in North America, and attracted about a half million dollar investment from NBA star Carmelo Anthony, who they later bought out. This capital allowed stock up on inventory, move from Kalamazoo to Paw Paw and acquire Mophie in a 2007 asset purchase.

Now I had never heard of either mStation or Mophie, an Apple device accessory company, which opened up a larger market for mStation. Their acquisition of Mophie gave them a global Apple retail presence.

In a nutshell, these really smart folks recognized every device is drawing power from the moment it is turned on, so they designed a supplemental power source, which is built into the device’s case.

Today Mophie is on track to do $200 million in 2013 sales!

Maybe your business ideas are as adventurous as Huang and Dougherty’s, and you might not have access to $250,000 for a startup. However a pole building might be part of the solution to getting off the ground and moving in an upward direction.

Available with a limitless supply of possible sizes and features, there is a pole building which could be just what your business ordered!