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Moving up and out of a home office

Unfortunately, there's no great alarm that sounds when the time is right to leave your cozy, home-based business environment for a commercial building. It’s a decision that should be the result of a strategic plan, and not simply a reaction or the desire for a change. In this article, I’ll discuss some of the critical strategic considerations surrounding this decision, address some of the more tactical concerns, and suggest where to go for solutions.

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So why would anyone want to move out of that cushy extra bedroom, with its 5-second commute and commit to a lease on an office space? While there may be personal reasons for wanting to get out of the house, the primary strategic question is whether the move to a commercial space will pay for itself through enhancing the growth trajectory of the business. And I promise, that will be the last time I use the word strategic, but you get the point, right?

The personal point of view

The reality is working from home isn’t for everyone even though many of us dream of it from time to time. But the merging of your personal life with your work life is difficult to limit and the intrusions on your time, energy and focus can be daunting. Just as the office cube-dweller may dream about a new life working at home, the home-based business person may begin dreaming of the time when they no longer work and live in the same place.

Before you consider moving from a home office, consider all the ramifications such as increased commute time and related expenses, a potential change in family routines, a change of dress (no more working in your jammies), and loss of your home office business deduction.

If you’re a solo entrepreneur and plan on remaining one, these personal considerations along with concerns about finances and your customers may be enough to detour you. But if getting out of the house makes sense, consider starting slow by renting shared office space, which is growing in popularity for consultants and solo entrepreneurs. Having a work space or office with shared phones, equipment and even conference rooms can be the best solution. It keeps your costs to a minimum and it also puts you back into an environment in which you might receive a tasty business tip at the water cooler. Of course, it has other networking and social advantages too.

The major reason for moving

The main reasons for moving though, beyond the home versus out of home personal preferences and challenges, is whether moving to commercial space will increase profits to pay for itself and more by quickening your pace of growth. This is where your vision and plan meet your financial analysis and budget to determine if this is the right move for you and the right time to make it.

Once your vision is committed to paper, along with your organizational plan and financial forecasts, you’re ready to ask the important questions that will help make the decision to move or stay put. Here are a few of the questions you should ask yourself before making this move.

  • Does growth demand hiring more people than you can accommodate at home?
  • Will a commercial space allow you to better serve your clients or customers?
  • Will this enhanced level of service result in more revenue to justify the extra expense of moving and maintaining a leased space?
  • Does this move fit into your marketing objectives and organizational strategy?
  • What’s your contingency plan? What happens if the economy changes or if your growth predictions don’t bear out?
  • Have you considered all of the expenses that you need to put in your budget such as liability insurance, furnishings, computers and other equipment, and most likely a new telephone system?
  • Do you have a comfortable cash cushion to cover expenses?

Bring on the tactics

After you’ve determined moving makes sense and you’ve set a timeline for it, getting the right space is paramount. You’ve heard the old real estate adage, location, location, location. This same mantra will serve you when looking for your new office. Is it convenient enough for you? Is it located in an area people will want to work in? Is it the right place for serving your customers and meeting your marketing objectives? Do you need a prestige space, or will a more simple one suffice? As with all business considerations, the power is often in the questions you ask to make certain your decisions supports your direction.

At this stage, you’ve done your homework, forecasted the finances, aligned your overall vision with an organizational and marketing plan and determined that this is indeed the right time to move. Even if you’ve located the perfect space, maybe even started lease negotiations, I’d suggest taking one more pass at all the objective and subjective criteria to make absolutely certain you want to sign that lease and incur the expense of the move. Of course, if you’ve budgeted comprehensively you’ve included the rent and utilities, the loss of your home business deduction, the cost of new equipment and furnishings, as well as any new employees you plan on hiring and more marketing dollars committed to increase revenue. So take a breather and check it all out again to be confident this move fits within your budget.

Diligent planning

If you’re ready to move ahead, the internet has plenty of resources to help with the actual move. There are a multitude of articles on the tactical aspects of making it happen with the least disruption to your business. Your furniture supplier can help with space planning, and your computer and telecommunications vendors can also be key resources. Use the relationships you have for they’ve already proven themselves or find new vendors if necessary, but make certain they know their stuff and can truly assist you during the adjustment period.

This is surely a major project  that requires diligent planning. Use a controlling calendar and/or project management software to make certain that you have everything necessary in place before you pull the plug at home and turn on the switch at your new location.

Let everyone know

For some home-based business owners, the client's sensory experience is critical so moving to a facility with a conference room instead of meeting at the local coffee shop is a big deal. It's important to let clients and business associates know you've moved. Have a party, invite your clients and constituents, see if you can get a little PR and make a big deal out of it. You’ve arrived in many people’s eyes when you’ve made this transition from a home-based location to a commercial location, and in your case it was all brought about by clear strategic decisions. Oh, there I go using that word again, breaking my promise. But indeed it’s all this questioning, planning and clear intentions that will make your move an overwhelming success. 

EMyth Team

Written by EMyth Team

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