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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 September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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