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:
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.
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.
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.
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.