If you’ve made the wonderful decision to start your own work-from-home business, there are several legal issues you need to consider. Legal mistakes can doom your business, especially in the early days.

In most cases, you will need business permits, but these laws vary far and wide between states and communities. You may need articles of incorporation. If you have workers, you may need workers’ compensation insurance. There’s a lot to consider! Here are a few legal things to think about as you start making money from home:

Know What is and isn’t Permitted in Your Community

Before you start working from home, you have to ask yourself whether or not you have the right permissions to do so. If you’re just sitting at a computer all day, there’s a good chance you’re not breaking any neighborhood rules. All the same, not having any permits, licenses or certifications you need for your field of work is one of the easiest ways to get your business shut down early or face serious fines.

Depending on where you live, you might need zoning exceptions to be able to run any kind of business from home, regardless of what it is. Check with your town or city hall, and look up guides for new business owners in your industry to see what is and isn’t required of you.

States also have their own, specific requirements for registering a business, incorporating a business, and filing sales and service taxes. Most counties have a business incubator that can help you navigate regulations so you can set your business up for success, legitimately.

You’re still Responsible for the Workplace

If you invite clients or workers into your home and they end up getting injured, you could be in serious hot water. You could face a premises liability case and you might get sued—just the same as if you were a large business with a fancy office building.

Keeping the home free of health and safety risks is one important step in coping with that threat, but you should also invest in business liability insurance. Consequently, you might simply reconsider whether or not you welcome clients to the home at all. You could save yourself a lot of headache if you visit them instead or find a neutral ground, like a coffee shop, as a meeting place.

You can also rent meeting space at hotels, conference centers, and even county offices. Check your local community centers to learn about low-cost meeting place options.

Related: 5 Things to Know about Working from Home

Don’t Fudge the Numbers

Even a small tax accident can inspire the tax authorities to start raking through finances with a fine-toothed comb. An efficient, organized bookkeeping system is essential. Most home business owners take care of their own taxes, but when your taxes start getting complicated and include multiple expenses and potential tax breaks, you might want to consider hiring an accountant to help you. Accountants don’t just make sure the numbers are all organized. They are also qualified to offer real legal advice on how to deal with your taxes and avoid audits.

Don’t let any of the potential threats put you off your efforts to get your own home business up and running. There’s risk inherent in running any kind of business; you simply have to ensure you’re taking the right precautions to deal with them.

Home Business Legal Requirements Checklist

It’s impossible to create a one-size-fits-all recommendation for your home business’ legal requirements, but here are some things you absolutely must research before you start your business:

  • What business licenses do I need? State? County? City?
  • Am I violating any home owners’ association rules with my business?
  • Do I need to incorporate my business to protect my assets?
  • Do I need business insurance?
  • Have I registered my business properly with the IRS? (if you aren’t sure, ask an accountant)
  • Can I safely meet clients at home, and if not, where can I meet them?
  • If I have a virtual assistant, what legal steps do I need to take as an employer?

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If you’re in need of a side hustle, you should consider a job as an adjunct teacher at a local college, or in the case of online classes, maybe even a distant one.  The entry barriers may be fewer than you think.

Colleges generally require teachers to have a master’s degree in the subject they’d like to teach or any master’s degree plus at least 18 graduate credit hours in the subject.  However, hiring committees may also consider candidates with alternative qualifications such as high school teaching experience or industry certification.  Past formal teaching experience is also usually not required—the interview will likely include a follow-up teaching demo. 

Here are the pros and cons of adjunct college teaching.

The Good Things About Adjunct College Teaching:


If you love helping people (and especially love sharing your knowledge or skills), there’s no field as rewarding as education.  Ask yourself if you’ve sought out opportunities to teach informally—perhaps by training colleagues at work, leading a Sunday school class, or volunteer tutoring.  If so, you’ll probably find this work very gratifying.

Reduced Commuting Time

You generally only have to be on campus when your class meets and a bit before and after to answer student questions and/or hold office hours if they’re required by your school.  Most traditional college classes meet once, twice, or three times per week, and colleges are increasingly offering more and more online and hybrid (reduced meeting time) classes to keep up with the evolving way today’s students learn. 


In the same vein as a reduced commute, much of the work—grading, preparing for class, answering student email, etc.—can be done at home.  This is handy because, as we’ll discuss in the next section, you’re probably going to need a separate full- or part-time job.

The Things You’ll Want to Consider Carefully:

Low Pay

It’s no secret that teachers don’t choose their careers for the money, but unfortunately adjuncts earn the worst pay of all.  They’re paid per class taught, not per hour worked.  The adjunct rate of pay at the college I taught at was $1,700 per class.  Classes are generally four months long (a semester), so the harsh reality is that depending on how much time your teaching duties take, you could end up making less than minimum wage.  This means that for most, adjunct teaching can only be a side hustle.

What’s more, colleges often limit the number of courses an adjunct can teach per semester—the one I worked for had a cap of three per semester.  You may be allowed to work as an adjunct at other schools (check with your college to make sure), but keep in mind that you might have to adjust your material to meet their requirements.

No Job Security

Adjunct teaching is contract work, so there’s no certainty about the number of classes you’ll get to teach or if you’ll even be hired next semester.  Also, the full-time faculty at the college are required to teach a certain number of classes each term, so if one of their sections doesn’t fill up, a class that was originally assigned to you may be given to a full-timer at the last minute.

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Possible Lack of Autonomy

In attempts to ensure uniform student experience and outcomes, your college may require everyone who teaches a course to use the same materials, exams, etc.  If so, full-time faculty are usually in charge of choosing and creating these items, so as an adjunct you may feel as though you don’t have much say in how your class is taught.  On the other hand, it’s easy to see how receiving a highly-structured premade course could be a blessing for first-time teachers.

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The Verdict on Adjunct Teaching Jobs

Did the cons in the last section scare you straight?  Just remember that although working as an adjunct is low on financial rewards, it’s big on personal ones.  While adjunct teaching is more viable as a side hustle than a way to earn a living, if you feel called to teach, it’s a great way to try out a career in education and make extra money without a big commitment.  In any case, please thank a teacher in your life.

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Most people envision working from home as sitting on the beach with a margarita while scrolling through Facebook on their phones. That would be wonderful, but it’s simply not true. Working from home is actual work…just from home.

Working from home may or may not help your work-life balance, but it will definitely end your morning commute. If you are considering working from home, there are a few things you should know before you make the commitment.

1. You Need a Workstation

To work from home efficiently, you need to set up a workstation. While working from home means that you can work in whatever room you want, you will likely need to take video calls with your boss or clients, and they will expect you to have a professional-looking backdrop when you do.

I staged my home office by painting the walls of a bedroom a warm shade of grey. I then situated my desk beside a window, with my computer’s webcam facing one of the pretty grey walls. Then, I hung thin frame shelves from IKEA on the wall in view of the webcam, and strategically staged my trophies, degrees, and random colorful “stuff” on the shelves. The finished look is polished and professional, and I generally only use the setup for web conferences.

The rest of the time, I work at the kitchen table, in an armchair facing my rose garden, or outside in the shade. Some myths about working at home are true—you really can work from anywhere, most of the time.

To create this kind of mobility, I actually use two workstations: A stable, 27-inch Macbook Pro in my home office facing the pretty wall, and a 15-inch Macbook Pro that I take quite literally everywhere. I even took it to the hair salon on Tuesday. I use an iPad pro for social media, research, and making graphics, too.

2. You Need a Business Phone

I’m not talking about a separate cell phone number just for your work—I mean a landline. Carrying two cell phones is madness and expensive. Plus, your cell phone connection isn’t always crystal clear and reliable.

Instead, contact your internet provider and ask for a landline number that you can use for conference calls and give out to clients. Landlines cost less than $20 per month and make an amazing back up during summer storms when cell signal drops. It’s more professional, all the way around.

3. Email will become Your Lifeline

While you might text your friends and live on Facebook’s Messenger, the business world still runs on email. Everywhere you go, your email will be with you on your phone or tablet. You will drive to the grocery store and check email from the parking lot. You will check email while waiting in the drive through at Starbucks. Remember the beach scenario with the warm ocean breeze and the margarita? Yeah, even on the weekend, you’ll be checking email. You need to become an expert at all things email, so consider MS Outlook training and master the art of email anywhere.

4. You Have to Plan Your Days

Yes, you can do the laundry during your work-from-home workday, but you have to plan your day carefully if you’re going to make it work. It’s one of the actions that can help you feel less stressed.

There are many ways to plan your day. I use both an electronic calendar and my iPhone’s reminders tool to make sure I never miss a meeting and I complete all tasks that need to be completed for the day. Find a calendar and reminder tool that works between your computer, phone, and tablet. The synchronization will keep you sane.

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5. You Must Treat Working From Home Like a “Real” Work Routine

Treat your work-at-home workday like any other normal, in-office working day. You have to set your hours over the course of the day, and set aside time for a lunch and other breaks. You have to have a set time that you’re going to be “off,” too. Keeping your sanity means having a point where work is done and you shut down your computer and do something else.

Setting boundaries for working hours can boost your work from home experience and productivity. If you have a home office, have a point in the day where you shut the door and walk away. On Friday afternoon, shut the door and don’t open it again until Monday. It’s harder to do than it sounds, but it’s vital to your work-life balance and overall well-being.

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