The good news is your home-based business is growing by leaps and bounds. The bad news is that you’ve outgrown your home office. Do you make do and stay put or find new space and move out?
Here are 10 steps you can take to make a smooth transition moving your business out of your house.
- Decide if you’re really ready to move on. There are several things for you to consider as you make your decision to move out of your home office. If you plan on eventually selling your business, then a location outside the home can add value and credibility to your business when selling. If you frequently have to meet with clients, commercial office space will foster a professional image. But are you really ready to give up the lifestyle you have created working at home? If you need larger office space only occasionally (such as when hosting conferences of visiting guests), consider arranging for temporary rental space in an office building or complex. This will allow you to continue working at home most of the time.
- Determine what you need in an office. What kind of square footage will you require? How far will you be willing to commute? What kind of conference or meeting rooms do you need? What about zoning? You’ll need to answer all these questions and many more before you start looking for new digs.
- Hire a commercial real estate agent or broker. Ask customers, associates, friends, or fellow chamber of commerce members to recommend a good real estate agent. The best agents have extensive networks and will hear about office space going on the market long before an ad appears online or in the local paper.
- Share office space to save money. One option is look for an “executive suite,” where tenants share meeting space, clerical help, and phone systems. If there aren’t any such suites in your local market, start your own. Seek out professionals from similar industries with whom you might form loose work alliances and subcontracting for each other if needed. Since you are sharing the cost of the office among several businesses, you’ll almost certainly save money over going it alone.
- Consider an intermediate move. If you are determined to work at home but need more space, consider moving to a larger home or renting a second apartment or condo in your facility. Because this additional space will be used for business purposes, it will probably be deductible as a business expense.
- Review your client list. Who are the clients who pay late, drain your energy, and are generally more trouble that they are worth? It might be time to end the relationships to make room for the new. Then raise your rates a bit for your remaining clients. This will help you grow revenue by focusing on the good clients and making room to pursue new customers and clients.
- Expand your marketing efforts. Now that you’re moving to bigger space, you need to take your marketing efforts more seriously. This will help ensure your business makes it through the stress of moving locations. Prospective clients who may have been hesitant to do business with you when you were based out of your house may feel comfortable working with you now that you have a “legitimate” location.
- Update your collateral. Make sure to change all of your marketing materials to reflect your new location. That includes brochures, business cards, Web site, email signature, and voicemail. Make sure you mail your new address and contact information to all your customers and clients.
- Talk to your tax advisor. Moving out of the house and into a commercial space may have significant tax repercussions. Buying vs. leasing, length of lease terms, loan structure: all these issues will have tax consequences. Talk to your accountant or tax preparer before you make any decisions.
- Maintain your home office, even if you move out. Don’t give up your designated office area. Keeping it will allow you to work at home occasionally, and ensure that you will have all the tools to do it effectively.