When starting out on your business journey, the home office or a shared coworking space will likely be your go-to place of work.
But as time goes on, you may eventually start to think about an office elsewhere. Having a separate office space solely for work is usually a goal of many small business owners, with benefits ranging from increased productivity to a better work-life balance.
But how do you know when it’s time to move into your own office?
Check out these five scenarios.
1. You need a business address
In the early days, it may be okay to invoice clients with your residential address. However, as your client base grows or becomes more high-profile, a professional business address may be more appropriate.
Having a registered address specifically for your business can also help with financial stuff like claiming VAT and doing annual taxes.
If you aren’t hiring employees or having frequent meetings with clients, then a virtual office can be a great option. These are often much cheaper than renting out full office spaces and can offer services like mail collection, mail forwarding, and call answering.
2. You want to hire your first member of staff
You may have already managed to take on your first employee, or maybe you’re thinking of it.
Either way, getting a first employee is a very good reason to expand to new pastures. You may not be able to physically accommodate two people in your home working space, or you can but it’s preventing you both from working efficiently as you could.
If you’ve been working in a shared co-working space, then privacy can also be an issue. You’ll want to be away from others who could potentially overhear your conversations, who also have their own businesses too.
Steve Bouchard, managing director of It Works, says, “When it came time to hire my first member of staff, I knew it was time to move into an office.
“Now we aren’t worried about who might hear our conversation on the phone because we’re all working for the same business.”
3. You’re struggling to create/maintain a productive culture
Whether you’re working from home or from a coworking space, things can go smoothly at first…right until they don’t.
Many entrepreneurs describe a ‘lull’ in productivity in less-than-typical working environments. It might be the TV, the kids, the household chores…or it could be the lively, shoot-pool-and-play-video-games atmosphere of a coworking space.
Either way, these types of environments can lead to procrastination, limited communications, maybe fewer resources and overall, lower productivity.
Some entrepreneurs have also described a feeling of ‘temporariness’ and, in the case of co-working situations, a ‘contrived’ atmosphere.
Not working within your ideal environment can lead to difficulty in building a workplace culture for your business.
4. You’re earning a steady income
Gone are the days of the financial struggle. You’ve pushed past breaking even and now you’re turning over a pretty decent profit.
If you’ve consistently been earning enough to pay rent, bills, food and more with a bit left over, it may be time to invest in an office space. This would enable you to increase your capacity to take on additional work and therefore turn over more profit.
5. Communicating with partners, co-workers or employees is a pain
Even if you don’t have your first employee yet, you may work with others on a regular basis – whether it’s a partner, co-worker or a subcontractor you hire ad hoc.
There are so many great communication tools out there for small businesses, but you might end up finding that coordination is still lacking.
If you’re regularly having to call meetings round at your place, unite in coffee shops or pay for business accommodation, it may be helpful to find your own space where you and your work buddies can meet and convene in peace and everybody will be on the same page.
6. You lack a working day structure
At the beginning, your new venture will seem so exciting that you’ll probably be spending every hour God sends to it (and loving it).
However, after a while, you’ll need a proper working routine if you’re to be at your most productive (and save your sanity).
You can establish this at home, but it requires discipline to create, and maintain, a structured working day. (Most entrepreneurs will attest to answering emails from bed first thing in a morning; not taking scheduled breaks and working late into the night.)
If the temptation to stray from set working hours is too great, or you’re looking for a better work-life balance, then moving into an office space will definitely help.
Of course, it won’t stop the late-night emails, but it will help.
7. You can afford it!
This one is kind of obvious, but important nonetheless.
If you’re thinking about renting an office space, you must ensure first that your current and future finances are ready for it.
Some offices involve a contract of at least 12 months, up to a few years in some cases. They also usually require a significant deposit.
If you’re a solopreneur and still working from home, then a local coworking space or a virtual office might be the solution for you. These often incur much lower costs and shorter leases too.
If most or all of these points resonate with you, then it may be time to consider moving into your own office.
If you can only relate to one or two things on this list, then maybe start planning your move for 6-12 months’ time and in the meantime research your options.