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8 Signs For Small Business Owners That It’s Time To Get An Office

8 Signs For Small Business Owners That It’s Time To Get An Office

Most small businesses begin at home. In fact, Microsoft began in Bill Gates’ father’s garage. And Facebook began in a college dorm room. There are a few reasons that businesses tend to literally start from the ground up in regards to location. For most startups, your home cuts costs by being a cheap, free option to housing your business. Running your business at home also offers a lot of flexibility to work anytime creativity strikes, sometimes even in the middle of the night. As a home base, it also provides a lot of convenience.

At some point, however, your small business grows to the point that you have to think about moving out of your home and into an actual office space. How do you know the time is right to do this? Here are the telltale signs that your small business can make the move from home office to office space:

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1. You Are Scheduling Too Many Meetings With Clients Off-Site

Your workspace at home is pretty small. And, it is not set apart from the “goings on” of the household. There are distractions and interruptions that make you uncomfortable. So, more and more, you are meeting with clients over lunch at a restaurant, at a coffee shop, or only at their offices. You need a professional space where clients can visit and meet you, even if only for your reputation as a business. As you gain more important and bigger clients, they will expect that you have an office, not a small room in your home.

2. You Need To Add Staff

Growing means that administrative and management tasks become more complex and take up more of your time. You know you need to add additional staff to the team and now you can afford it. The problem is this: where do you put them? Can you divide the small home office space up to accommodate additional furniture and equipment? Probably not. It is definitely time to look for some space outside of your home.

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3. Your Business Requires You To Be On-Site Somewhere Else

This is not the case with every business, but it is with some. Suppose, for example, that you are a property manager or developer. You began small out of our home. Now, a large developer has contracted with you to manage the sales/leasing of a large residential project. Or, as a developer, you are ready to begin your first major project. It’s a project that will take your business to the next level. To meet those client’s or customer’s’ needs, you are going to need an office on-site that is staffed with the right personnel to receive potential buyers/renters. Having an office tells potential customers that your company is professional and trustworthy. Other smaller operations may be run from your home, but this one is just too important.

4. You are Generating The Revenue To Warrant Office Space

You are finally generating the revenue that is bringing in a good profit. It is definitely time to think about expanding and venturing into new, related areas for your business. You want to seek out investors, partners, etc. When you plan for this kind of expansion, you will need to have the space and the staff to do so. As much as collaboration can now occur with remote staff members, it is still a bit “sketchy” to professionals who may be interested in collaborating with you in your new growth phase. Having an office with staff on-site projects an image of stability and permanence.

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5. Distractions Have Become Too Much

Your kids are growing older. They may be at the toddler stage where everything in the house is “fair game,” including your office. Likewise, they may be elementary-aged with friends over a great deal of the time and they are noisy in their fun. They may also be teens with their blaring music or playing video games with their friends. Whatever the case, you find yourself distracted by the comings and goings, the interruptions, and the noise. It’s definitely time to look for space somewhere else – a place where you can be during the day to focus full-time on your business. This does not necessarily mean that you have to give up your home office – it will be there when you need to work evenings and weekends – just not during prime working hours when it’s better to be somewhere else to avoid household distractions.

6. You Are “Bending” Local Laws And Regulations

Most communities/cities have regulations related to home businesses – what types of businesses can be run from home and which types need to be located elsewhere. If you are a freelance writer, for example, you can stay in your home permanently. Suppose, however, that you are a tax accountant and, especially during tax time, clients are parking on your street and taking up space that residents feel should be reserved for themselves. Or, suppose you have a home office large enough to accommodate a few staff members. They are parked on your street all day, every day.

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In general, cities have laws regarding how many employees you can have in a home office and a revenue cap as well. Some homeowners’ associations have even stricter regulations. If you are “bending” those rules, you may be called on it, as neighbors begin to notice and complain. Be a good neighbor and follow the “rules.”

7. You Feel Isolated

Working at home can be a lonely endeavor, especially for people who are “social.” Some people are just more productive when others are around, when they can take a short break to chat, or when they can bounce ideas back and forth. If this sounds like you, then it is time to look at some office space. The newer concept of shared office space is also a good one. Several small business owners can collaborate, rent a large space together, and subdivide it into their own offices. This adds a social dimension that you might appreciate.

8. You Just Want To “Feel” Like A Business Professional

Sometimes, it’s hard to have that feeling of being a successful business owner when you spend your entire day at home – it’s a psychological thing. Feeling good about your business and your capabilities is important for your enterprise to grow. You need the motivation that comes from having a “real” office.

Ultimately, it’s an individual choice.

Only you know your circumstances, your personality, and your faith that your business is going to scale regularly. And only you know what type of office space you have at home, how large, and how removed it is from the daily operations of your family. Some business owners have an entire wing of their homes and enough space for additional staff; some business owners can actually operate solely from their homes because the business is fully web-based and clients/customers are remote. But if you find yourself facing any of these eight situations, it may be time to make that move.

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Elena Prokopets

Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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