Office space can be really expensive and keeping costs down is crucial when operating a business, especially one based at home. At some point, it may be time to re-think if operating your business from home is a hindrance or a help. Melissa Moriarty (www.azulina.com) wanted to know when is the right time to move your business out of the “garage.”? There are some signs you should look for to help you make the right decision at the right time.
Designated Space. Is your desk your kitchen table? Technically, home offices should be a separate space within your home, even if it’s a converted closet. It is a designated space that your business is contained to. Is there any equipment that does not fit properly within your designated space? Is it noisy? Do you have a separate phone line? When you have outgrown your designated space, it’s time to reconsider a more appropriate workspace.
Impact on the family. Although family members can be supportive and encouraging, you don’t want to take that for granted. Does your home office and business activities affect family members and their use of the home? Is your business the unwanted houseguest that has overstayed its welcome? Be considerate of family member feelings and know when it’s time to refocus on “home sweet home” and find a more appropriate workspace.
Professional Image. If physical meetings with clients are required of your business, your space must convey a professional image. Are your kids running around and/or interrupting your conference call? Is your washer/dryer buzzing in the background when you scheduled time with your clients? Are your pets running around your client’s feet? Are there personal household items lying about? When your home office no longer affords you privacy or enhances your business image and transactions, it’s time to reconsider a more appropriate workspace.
Zoning requirements. City ordinances will help determine what business functions are acceptable for your home office and if you should perform those tasks at a more conducive location. Are hazardous materials being used? Is there a noise issue? Are you impeding on your neighbors rights? Is your house the “eyesore” of the neighborhood because of production? Is product storage an issue? If you have outgrown your garage space, you may want to look into renting or leasing a larger storage/ more appropriate workspace.
Employees. What level of privacy do you want between your work, staff and your family? Some people don’t want employees working at their home, in order to maintain a level of privacy. If you hire staff, are you okay with being around your family? Is safety a concern? Do you have young children in the home? Is your workspace separate enough that it minimizes interaction between staff and family? How much access do you want your employees to have? All of these things should be considered when working from home. If you are uncomfortable with any of these, in any way, you should consider a more appropriate workspace.
The type of home business you operate will help dictate where and when it’s time to move. If your business is casual and informal, you have more leeway in working from home. However, if your business if more formal and corporate, you will need to ensure it is presented that way, despite being located within your home.
Should it be time for you to move your home office to a more appropriate workspace, there are many options available now that make it more cost-effective for new business owners and entrepreneurs with small budgets (i.e. co-working offices, shared warehouse space, etc.). It’s always good to remember, just because you are a small business, doesn’t mean you have to operate or look like one. Keep your image and brand professional at all times and run your business like a business, not a hobby. Set your hours, designate your space and keep it organized.
Micro Business Therapist™, A.Michelle Blakeley, is a small business professional with over two decades of experience in sustainable, holistic and progressive business practices who has successfully guided new and seasoned small business owners through the daily challenges of operating a small business with timely and transformative small business advice. She is featured in Forbes.com and the Financial Post as one of 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter, contributor for the San Francisco Examiner and Women On Business; curator of the online magazine, Micro Business Therapy™ and was the host of Simple Truths for Women Entrepreneurs on BlogTalkRadio.com.