How launching a Chicago home-based business just got easier

Mar 15, 2017

(This guest view was written by Elliot Richardson and Ryan Tolley. Richardson is the CEO and founder of the Small Business Advocacy Council. Ryan Tolley is the Advocacy Director of the Small Business Advocacy Council, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Northeastern Illinois University.)

Many incredibly successful businesses began in their founders’ home or garage.   These businesses have created a tremendous number of jobs, sparked innovation and supported local economies.

For some Chicago residents who dream of owning their own business, the most practical and sometimes only option is to start a business in their home.  However, various regulations have made it difficult for these entrepreneurs.

Small business advocates have fought to ease restrictions that make it difficult to launch a home-based business in Chicago.  On February 22, the City Council passed an ordinance that eliminated several rules hampering the ability of entrepreneurs to launch and grow a business from their home.

The Changes

One of the most important things this ordinance does is allow home-based businesses to hire more than one employee. Chicago-based entrepreneurs now can hire sales people and other off-site workers without draining their resources by prematurely renting a commercial space.  This change will help home-based businesses expand and create jobs.

In addition, the ordinance allows products made by a home-based business owner to be sold at retail locations.  This change will have a dramatic impact on home-based entrepreneurs, permitting them to create innovative products and sell them at retail establishments.  History is replete with stories about immensely successful entrepreneurs who started their business by making products in their home and garage.  This change will give more Chicago entrepreneurs a chance to craft their own success stories.

Another change permits home-based business owners to legally use a portion of their garage to store incidental, non-hazardous materials related to their business.  This allows business owners to purchase more materials in bulk and eliminate the need to rent space in storage facilities.  The ordinance will enable business owners to use underutilized portions of their own property to help achieve their dream of owning a successful business.  The ordinance includes additional measures pertinent to certain Chicago-based businesses.

Empowering Chicago Small Businesses

There is much more work to be done to improve the business climate for small businesses in Chicago.  However, the passage of recent legislation making it easier for business owners to obtain public way use permits, and the passage of this home-based business ordinance, are steps in the right direction.

Small businesses support local neighborhoods throughout Chicago.  These businesses provide jobs for those living in their communities.  By eliminating unnecessary barriers that inhibit the growth of home-based businesses, the city creates a welcoming environment for these entrepreneurs, helps revitalize local economies and generates much-needed revenue for the city.

We will be watching for the next Chicago home-based business that becomes a brand name and major job creator.  We encourage the Mayor’s office and Chicago aldermen to continue pushing legislation that makes it easier for Chicago small businesses to thrive.


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