Business growth: A home office or commercial office space?
When you experience business growth, is it better to stay in a home office, or move out? Late last year I moved my business out of home and into commercial office space. It's time to update you on what this has meant for me and for the business.
At the time I wrote about five reasons to grow my business beyond a solo operation. I had made the decision to move my small business out of my home office and in to commercial office space.
So some six months on, how’s life, how’s business, what have I learnt and was it a good decision?
The personal transition
The drive to work and having to negotiate the traffic was, I admit, the only negative for me and the one thing I didn’t enjoy. The new commercial office space is only a 20 minute drive from home but takes 30 minutes plus at peak hour. So I have taken to leaving home about 7:00am to avoid the peak hour traffic!
My husband and I have been able to claim back the two spare bedrooms in the house. One is now our personal study and the other is intentionally very empty at the moment as we are making room for the family we plan to start!
"My husband and I have been able to claim back the two spare bedrooms in the house."
The extra hour spent travelling each day has made it harder to get to gym three times a week after work and get home at a reasonable hour. It is just around the corner from my house so previously it was easy to head to the gym before or after work. So I have had to rearrange my schedule to make time for exercise. I have also started looking for alternatives to gym while preparing for pregnancy.
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When the business first moved out, all my computers went to the office. There was a period where I had no computer or Internet connection at home. Shock horror – must have been the end of the world – right!? But now I have a portable laptop which I take between home and the office and can log in remotely when needed to check up on things at the office or check my email and stay connected.
The business transition
Location! Location! Location!
The spot we picked is just off one of the main freeways in Melbourne. We did not need a retail shop front but are right on a corner with plenty of parking. Our central, easy to find location has meant a lot more clients travelling to us. So I am spending less time on the road during the day.
Like it or not, many businesses still frown upon home offices and believe they are “backyard operations” and cannot provide the same levels of service and security as a business not based at home. We have found that since moving we have been able to attract and win a number of larger contracts.
We have been very busy since moving. This is partly because of the move and extra advertising at this time, but it’s also due to taking on a part time Marketing Assistant last February. Our planned and regular marketing along with our new physical presence has broadened our reach and increased turnover.
We have taken on yet another full time staff member since moving and are currently advertising for our fifth team member.
The hardest things have been dealing with Telephone and Energy providers to get the services we need.
Dealing with the rapid growth
Managing the workload, cash flow and deciding when to increase our staff numbers and infrastructure.
Overall I feel our decision to move to commercial office space has been a good one and we have not looked back. Our choice of location has been great and allowed us to use our time more effectively when meeting with new clients. Going forward my biggest challenge is staffing and keeping a good team of people to handle the load at the same time as reducing my time in the business to enable me to start my family. I will report back and let you know how it goes.