Many entrepreneurs work from home. For good reason! It is convenient, cost effective, and void of office drama. But there are times when your company is moving in a direction where being completely online is no longer viable. The biggest problem I see when virtual businesses move into brick in mortar is that they try to do too much.
If you have an online retail store, you should determine the purpose of moving into an office. Is it to have a brick and mortar store? Is it because your house is filled with inventory? Are you just tired of being in the house? Each of those things requires different types of space.
Is your garage warehouse running out of space?
Sometimes you just need more space to store items. If that is the case, you can consider a small storage unit. There are several units that can operate as workspace. Some have electricity or air conditioning. Some allow you to park the truck for delivery of items. If storage space is what you need, a unit dedicated to storage is probably your best bet.
This option is cheaper and more efficient. You can rent on a monthly or yearly basis. If you determine that the space is not working for you, you can move without a lot of fuss. With this option you can still work from home as needed and only keep the inventory that is required for the day’s work.
Do you need a private office or place to work?
Many people know of virtual offices or office suites. Those options are certainly useful if you are not looking for a permanent office. Renting your own space could be expensive, especially if you have to furnish it yourself. However, if you have other friends that need space, you can go into an office sharing arrangement that allows you to lease your own space and share the rent.
Many times, other professionals lease offices and allow office sharing. This may be a viable option for those in industries where referrals can be helpful. Paring a real estate agent and a travel agent in an office can work well for either party.
Do you need to expand your office and hire employees?
If the need for space expansion has more to do with adding people, the above options may not work for you. You need office and work space. With this type of expansion you have to prepare for the extra expenses. You don't only have additional wages to deal with, the office space could also be significant in cost. Long term leases tend to be better in these situations as you can take advantage of discounts.
Determine the right type of space and location. If you need space where there is a lot of traffic, location is important as well as the overall aesthetic of the building. If client traffic is not an issue, building beauty and address may not be as important. Either way, you need to be comfortable with the building, its management and lease payments.
Pay special attention to termination rights. If things do not go as planned, how flexible will your landlord be when it comes to giving you smaller space or letting you out of your lease early? Do not become overwhelmed by build-out and design of the space. Stay within a strict budget and try to include as much as possible within the lease terms.
If you find yourself moving from virtual to real life office space, do your homework and focus on what matters. The survival of your business should be at the forefront of your office choices.
Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.