If you have the right kind of business, you can save money by running it right out of your garage. Follow these steps to determine if it's possible, if it's a good idea and what you need to do.
Check with your city planning department about zoning and building codes for your neighborhood. Most cities have specific rules governing what kind of business can be run where.
Check with your city, county and state authorities and find out what kinds of permits or licenses you need to run a business out of your home.
Acquire and fill out all the necessary paperwork.
What kind of layout does your business need? Will just a single open room be sufficient? Will you need a front room for sales and a back room for storage? Or do you need a lobby and an office?
Consider what sort of appearance you will need to present. If you're just fixing cars you can probably leave the garage as is, but if you're providing legal services you'll need to do a full makeover, including insulation and drywall. Think about what sort of environment your customers will expect.
Assess your electrical needs. Will the outlets in your garage be enough? Will the present location of the outlets suit your needs, or will you need to move them during the remodel? What about Internet connection and phone jacks?
Find an architect (sometimes a contractor is sufficient) to draw up the plans and file them downtown. The majority of cities require a professional to do or at least approve any changes to a commercial structure.
Shop for a contractor to do the remodeling work while the plans are being approved. Like all other business purchases, get estimates from at least three outfits.
Find a good sign maker to build you a sign that's compliant with the rules for your neighborhood.
Be honest and upfront with government offices about what you plan to do. Pay the proper fees and file all the proper papers. If you cut corners, you face the possibility of getting shut down after you've spent thousands to get your storefront in order.