The good news: your business has grown by leaps and bounds. The bad news: your business has overtaken your house, which is now bursting at the seams! Often, the trade-off of home business success is that it may now be too big for your home.
I remember talking to a woman entrepreneur running an online business. At first, her inventory was stored in a couple of shelves in the garage. As the business grew, she had to convert one of her daughter’s rooms as storage for her products. When the inventory threatened to spill to her family room, her husband (who was then not involved in the business) put a kibosh on her plans and insisted on bringing the business elsewhere. She decided to finally open a store that will also serve as storage for her products. Now she has an online business and a couple of stores in her state – and business has grown almost tenfold!
As your business grows, you need to consider whether your house has the capacity and space to accommodate your business. More than that, you need to consider how the growth of your business is affecting your family and the quality of your lives. If the business is overtaking your life and space, then it may be time to think of bringing the business elsewhere.
Here are some options to consider when your home office has outgrown your business:
1. Get an office. Renting an office is a big step. Like many small business owners, moving to an office can be a validation of your success – that your business is now big enough to actually afford and warrant its own office space. However, there are a number of factors that you need to consider, such as:
- Cost – your cost includes rental or leasing fees, improvements you need to do to the space to accommodate your needs, furniture (for the office, meeting room, reception/lobby), janitorial expenses, equipment (telephone equipment, high speed internet access, copy/fax/printer). Then of course, there are costs you pay on every month such as heating, lighting, insurance, etc.
- Accessibility for you, your customers and your daily routine — e.g. how far is it to the bank, the post office, and your common destinations, etc. Accessibility also includes whether your customers can easily come to you and whether enough parking spaces are available.
- Plans for growth – consider whether the space will still be viable for you and your business in the next five or ten years.
- Image and appearance – it is important to consider how the location matches with the image of your business.
2. Rent an “executive suite.” If you are wary of signing a long term lease and don’t have the budget for one, consider renting an executive suite. Executive Suites are essentially shared offices with services provided by a management firm, which are a good transitional step from home to traditional offices. Also called office business center or serviced offices, executive suites are about 20-30% of the cost of equipping and staffing conventional office space. You’ll typically get a private office, conference room usage, telephone lines, receptionist (even a receptionist to answer your phone), daily janitorial services, building utilities, on-site management, and perhaps even prime location in the city.
3. Get a virtual office. If you don’t need a full-time office space and only need occasional office space for your business, a virtual office may be your option. Virtual offices are are perfect for those who work from home but need to project the image of a successful business. Virtual offices provide you with a prestigious business address, mail service, personalized telephone answering, voice mail, clerical support, and use of private meeting rooms – all without renting an office. Business owners are provided the same infrastructure of someone renting a full-time office at only a fraction of the cost.
4. Rent the space you need. Another option is to just rent the space that you need. You can just rent space in warehouse for your inventory, rent a dance studio for your twice-weekly yoga class, or rent the church’s kitchen for your growing catering business.
Growing your business out of your home is an exciting next step for your business. However, don’t be afraid to get the help you need to guide you in this new phase of your business. Renting (or even buying) an office space is a big step, and you will greatly benefit from hiring a commercial real estate agent or broker to advice you on the best steps to take.