It’s happened again: you’re at your desk, your Zoom meeting has just begun; this potential client could mean big things for your business and you’re more than ready to win them over. You’re feeling calm, confident, and professional.
Then your dogs start going crazy. You look outside, see the delivery van, and your heart sinks. You aren’t expecting anything but it’s guaranteed that your partner, your kid, or your neighbour has organised yet another delivery because, hey, you’ll be at home all day to sign for it, right?
And yet again, you find yourself dreaming of picking up the keys to your very own office space!
But is it just a pipe dream, or has your business finally reached the stage that it makes sense to move out of your home office and into a rented space?
Here are 8 signs that it might just be the right time for you to make the move
1. You need more staff and you need them on-site
If you’re getting steadily busier and wondering how you’re going to cope on your own, you’re going to have to think about getting additional help.
For many business owners, this means using freelancers, temporary contractors, or remote employees, however if you need full-time staff, and you need to be able to interact with them in-person on a regular basis, you know it’s the right time to start looking for office space.
2. Your client projects are getting bigger
Similarly, if the projects you’re tackling are getting more complex, or you’re working with bigger clients than you were before, you might find that your home office setup just isn’t cutting it any more.
More meetings, more equipment, and more people involved might mean you really appreciate the meeting rooms, desks, and storage space your new office will provide.
3. Your home setup isn’t practical
Working from home is the ideal situation for many small business owners, particularly in the early days of business. And it has many advantages.
The commute is a dream, it can be a lifesaver for parents of young children who have issues with childcare, and apparently, when a global pandemic hits, it means you’re already ahead of the working-from-home game.
However, as your life evolves, you might find that your home setup isn’t as practical as it used to be.
Perhaps your kids are getting older and as soon as 3.30pm hits, you have a house full of noisy teenagers blasting their music and complaining about the lack of snacks in the fridge. You might have a partner who’s now working from home long-term and taking up much of your valuable home office space. Your neighbours might have decided to add a double-height extension to their house and turn the entire street into a building site.
Whatever the reason, if everyday distractions are disrupting your work, you might well be ready for a change (and some much-needed peace and quiet).
4. You’re on first-name terms with your local barista
Sure, it’s a cliché but plenty of small business owners love nothing more than packing up their laptop and heading to their nearest coffee shop.
After all, the wifi is usually reliable, the coffee beats the instant stuff in your kitchen cupboard, and the bustle of people coming and going can really spark creativity.
However, there comes a time for every business owner, when the café life becomes less than ideal. Like when the parents from the local baby and toddler group decide it’s their new favourite meet up spot. Or they discontinue your favourite blend!
But the real issue comes when you’re trying to level up your business.
When you’re courting a lot of potential new clients, or going after clients that were previously out of your league, arranging a meeting in your local Starbucks might not hit the level of professionalism you’re trying to convey.
Of course, there are other options, such as hiring a conference room in a local co-working space. But if you’re having multiple meetings a week, you might find that renting your own office will be more cost-effective — and more practical — in the long run.
5. Your neighbours hate you
Your neighbours don’t mind you running your business from home when they can rely on you to sign for deliveries when they’re out at work, but there may come a point when they start to resent you and your business.
Whether your business generates quite a lot of noise or bigger projects, new staff members, or more in-home client meetings mean your quiet residential street is becoming a busy thoroughfare, if your neighbours are starting to complain about the distractions or the lack of parking spaces, looking into alternative options might just be the neighbourly thing to do.
6. Your boundaries are blurred
You’ve clocked off for the day…but you know your clients halfway across the world are starting to log in, so you can’t help but sneak back into your office to check the progress of your current projects.
Or you’ve decided to take a much-needed day off with your partner. But you’ll just have a quick look at your admin to make sure you really are on top of things.
Of course there’s nothing to stop you checking emails 24/7 even if you have an office 5 miles from your house… but there’s something about hitting the lights, locking the door, and heading home (to a whole other building!) to help you cultivate a healthier work/life balance.
So, if that’s something you’ve been struggling with and you think your nightly commute would help you create stronger boundaries between your work life and your personal life, it’s certainly worth adding work/life balance to the office space pro column.
7. You can finally afford it
If you always hoped to open up your own office space one day and you’ve just scored a long-term contract or your past success and predicted sales forecasts suggest that you can easily absorb this extra overhead, this could be the time to take the leap.
However, if you’re still hesitant, or you aren’t 100% confident in the numbers, don’t be afraid to consult your accountant — offering guidance and support on issues like this is exactly what they’re there for.
8. You don’t feel like a real business owner
There is absolutely nothing to say that you can’t run — and scale — a professional, profitable, highly successful business from home. Many people do, and they wouldn’t change it for the world.
That said, sometimes levelling up in your business is about more than logistics and practicalities. Sometimes it’s about what’s going on in your head.
And if you started your business with the thought that you’d eventually graduate to an outside office space, making the move might be exactly what you need to feel more professional, more capable, and more confident about growing your business, whether or not you technically NEED the extra space.
Scaling your business won’t look the same for you as it does for everyone else — and you might feel that you can reach the next exciting growth stage without changing your current work space. However, if you’re already nodding in agreement with some of these signs, renting a professional office space could be the key to levelling up.
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