Moving beyond your spare bedroom: tips for relocating your home business
The time has finally come, your baby has finally grown out of its startup nappies and started walking on its own. Baby metaphors aside, good news, your company has started generating revenue and is ready to move into an office of its own. Although seeming pretty straightforward, there is many a pitfall on the road to finding a suitable office and the endeavor should not be considered lightly. Let’s be honest – the world is rarely gumdrops and ice-cream, the business world has made us aware of that early on, but the proper approach can turn this minefield into a cakewalk. So, when relocating your office, heed the words of someone who went through the process blind so you don’t have to:
Gauge your needs
Before even picking up the phone or writing that email, take a seat back and consider how much space you actually need. As someone who’s been there before, it’s very easy to get carried away and effectively bite off more than you can chew. As the years have gone by, statewide office space has dropped to an average of a 150 square feet per worker. A good rule of thumb is to be somewhere around that average to keep costs reasonable and prevent employees feeling like they’re working in a sweatshop.
Keep others in mind
Building on the last sentiment – keep your workers happy. These people come in every day to make your dream a reality, respect that and take their needs into account when you move. Try to rule out any locations too inconvenient to get to, no one likes a long commute and it can affect their work performance and attitude. Naturally, you can’t please everyone, but taking the time to find an office space that suits most of your employees will help them retain a positive attitude and, more importantly – keep them coming back.
There is no shame in subleasing
It is imperative to accept this early on – there is no such thing as pride in business. To quote a certain newly-acquired Disney property: “Twice the pride, double the fall.” If your company is finally starting to gain steam but is still not pulling in the numbers you need to relocate – subleasing is your friend. A good arrangement usually ends up being a monthly and more rarely, a weekly type deal. This lowers your upfront expenses and enables the continued growth of your company. Keep in mind that this is not a permanent solution, it’s a stepping stone, one that’s worth considering.
Landlords are a dime a dozen
Akin to renting an apartment – a bad landlord can make your life a living hell. Opting for a landlord that is genuinely fair and professional about the whole endeavor is paramount. I’d imagine we’ve all had at least one bad experience with a landlord unwilling to help or worse, one that pins various repair costs on the tenant. These people do exist and they can do serious damage to a new company. When you’re satisfied with the office space you’re being offered, pull a few strings, ask other tenants in the building – get an idea of the landlord before you put your name anywhere.
Agents are no different
Fair enough, this can essentially be said for people in general, but still – hire a good agent. Only consider agents with experience and recommendations from someone you know. There are too many agents out there that simply don’t keep their promises, and when the future of your business is on the line – leaving it to chance is just too big of a gamble. Even when you receive a recommendation, go online, do some digging of your own. Find their LinkedIn page or contact previous clients to see what they have to say. You’d be surprised how much a half hour internet search can help.
Make offers. This cannot be stressed enough and yet, when asked, most of my colleagues gasped at the idea of negotiating rent. The surprising thing here is that most owners are willing to go down a fair amount as a show of goodwill. After all, they are people like us, talking with them and setting up a mutually beneficial agreement is easier than one might think. Just like with selling things on sites like Craigslist or eBay, people like to inflate their prices – landlords are no different. Make an offer, throw them a bone, the worst thing they can do is decline your offer.
Now that that’s out of the way, take time out of your schedule to spruce the place up. A fresh coat of paint and a nice spring cleaning will do the old place a world of good. Hiring professionals will help speed the process up and help you transition more smoothly. When you’re stuck between managing your business on one end and keeping tabs on the move and the acquisition of office equipment, companies like Cleanworks are nifty. Specialized cleaners like these offer what is essentially a fire-and-forget option that lets us keep focus where it’s needed – and you’ll need all the help you can get – believe me.
Moving into your very first office can be a daunting experience, with all the trouble that comes along with it, some even wonder if it’s worth it. As someone who’s been through this several times – it is. Moving into a bigger office plants the seed for change. The change will be strenuous, it will test both you and your employees but will ultimately leave you stronger than you were. By keeping the aforementioned points in mind, we can rise above the rabble and take the bull by the horns, ushering our company into a new chapter.
This guest post was authored by Cate Palmer.
Cate is an IT girl by day and a writer by night. Her fields of expertise could be summed up to web design and digital marketing. Her interests are, on the other hand, wide and ever-evolving. These days Cate is quite passionate about helping startups and small businesses to grow.