Your basement might be the best place to test out new business ideas, and to work late nights on your start-up after putting in a full day's work. But as you build your idea or product into a business, your space should also evolve. Necessary milestones often drive you from your home office into a dedicated office space, like hiring employees, growing your inventory or manufacturing efforts, meeting with clients on a regular basis. Whatever the reason, making the move from home office to a dedicated office space is a big step! Is it time for you to make the move? Consider this:
1. Rejuvenation -- Getting out of your house and into the sphere of business can help bring new energy to you, as the small business owner, and to your employees. If you find co-office space, being around other professionals might help grow your business. If the culture of your business was cinderblock walls and the option to wear pajamas or not, finding an instant culture through shared office space could be just what you need. Up the professional ante, collaborate with other like-minded business people, and network each day just by being visible.
2. Visibility -- If the bulk of your business happens on the web, visibility might not be important. Bringing your brand to the public through a business location gives you the real opportunity to define your brand and let others see it. For example, when an artisan soap and body products company moved into a dedicated production and storefront space in a renovated factory, entrepreneur Shana Eichenberg found a way to display her products, while having the space to create. She markets her products on her clean (pun intended) website, in her Etsy store, and in shops. But customers can also stop by her location and get a feel for her process and shop her inventory. In a different but very important sense, your employees are more visible to one another. Being face-to-face encourages communication, collaboration, and often more immediate action. Technology connects but also separates, sometimes getting in the way of teamwork.
3. Accountability -- Saving money by operating out of your home is great, but being accountable to pay a rent or mortgage payment helps you set sales and revenue goals. With business expenses comes responsibility. With responsibility comes focus. With focus and planning, your business has the best chance to grow.
4. Professionalism -- Do the baristas at your local coffee shop know you by name and have your latte ready when you walk in the door? Maybe you've held one too many business meetings over coffee, tapped into their free Wi-Fi. When you're regularly meeting with clients, hosting meetings on your turf can have great benefit. You control the atmosphere and setting. You can spend your time preparing for meetings rather than traveling to them. And you portray yourself as a legitimate, established company.
5. Boundaries -- Having a dedicated business space allows for boundaries, both from family and friends who may have felt entitled to encroach on your home office space. But for you, as an entrepreneur, having an office out of the house allows you to draw boundaries around personal life and professional life. At the end of the day, you can close and lock the door. Yes, you might open your laptop and log for an hour or two in the evening, but it's easier to leave work behind when it's not in your home. Ultimately making the leap from home office to a dedicated space--whether it's shared or private space, is a decision that weighs on factors of your business. Do you need to appear more professional to clients? Do your employees need collaborative space? Will an office help you define your brand and culture? Does your operation earn enough to justify the added expense? Are you a small business owner or entrepreneur considering making the move? What's holding you back?