Many embark on their dream of becoming an entrepreneur by running their business out of their home. Maybe they want to save on expenses, or perhaps they don't need a lot of space for their business.
Jennifer Manriquez of the Bilingual Fun Co. found that working from home provided a perfect balance between family and career. "At the moment, the home based setup is the right balance for me," she says. "With my young children's busy schedules and daily lives, the flexibility it provides me is definitely worthwhile."
At some point, a successful home based business owner will outgrow her home office. For some, that day arrives much faster than expected. Therefore, you should be sensitive to the signs that your home is no longer the place for an office. Have a plan in place to identify the warning signs so that you can be prepared.
Product-based businesses can easily expand beyond the walls of a home. When the dining room table and family room become your warehouse, this may be a sign you need a separate warehouse or need to expand to a storefront.
The flow of customers and vendors through your front door may be another indication that an alternate location is needed. Not only can the increased traffic become an issue for your family, but also many neighborhoods and homeowners associations don't permit this type of traffic. It can also affect your business and/or homeowners insurance, and your liability coverage.
An outside office may be more conducive if you struggle with separating yourself from your work. For example, you might find yourself sneaking into your office after dinner to catch up on a few things or spending a few hours there on weekends. For some, it is easier to have a defined separation between work and home locations.
As your business grows, you may need to add staff. A home based business may not work if you need employees working in close proximity. Manriquez is already planning for the future: "I envision more space for additional employees one day. I have found that I am more productive if I am able to delegate some of the tasks that are very time-consuming. I would like to have an office space specifically for my own staff so that they have the resources, materials and space for completing the necessary work." Again, your homeowner's policy may not cover liability for your employees. In that case, you'll need a separate work location.
When you get to the point of exploring possible locations, assess what type of office you need. Consider future needs to prevent frequent moves. Will you be adding staff within the next year or two? Will you need additional space for additional equipment as your business grows? If so, choose a location with room to expand; otherwise, you'll incur additional costs and headaches when you have to move again.
Consult with a commercial real estate agent who has the expertise to find a location that suits your needs and can help negotiate the best cost per square foot. An agent will also help navigate the many contractual agreements to consider in a lease, such as build-out expenses, utilities, security, maintenance and rate increases.
Choosing an appropriate new location for your business will help your business become more successful. And in the end, isn't that what you want?
—By Lesley Spencer Pyle
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