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As a small-business owner working from home, there will come a time when you will have to ask yourself whether you should stay in your home office or make the move to a commercial space. The benefits of working from home are vast — the low overhead and cost of transportation, for example, are top contenders. But as your business continues to grow, the challenges of a home office may outweigh the benefits.
While making the jump to a commercial office space is exciting, there are many things to consider before diving in. Keep these 14 things in mind as you begin planning your move.
Your budget will affect — and be affected by — every other item on this list, so it’s important to set a budget before you begin. Figure out how much office you can really afford, but keep in mind that your total costs will include more than just rent: utilities, maintenance fees, taxes, insurance, and more will need to be considered as part of your overall budget as well.
Consider the scope of your business and the number of employees and clients your office space will need to accommodate when determining the size of office you need. Be sure to keep in mind potential growth, as well. You don’t want to move into an office just to move out in six months because you’ve already outgrown the space.
“Location, location, location,” is a well-known saying in real estate for a reason: the location of your office can impact everything from your effectiveness to your reputation. Consider proximity to clients or suppliers, zoning regulations, and commute times for yourself and your employees.
4. Lease or Own
When first making the leap from home to commercial office, you’ll have to decide whether to lease or buy your office. Many business owners choose to lease or co-lease their office space because of the cost savings and limited responsibility for things such as property maintenance. Owning your office space, on the other hand, can give you more flexibility to make renovations and helps build your equity.
5. Maintenance, Repairs, and Other Fees
Maintenance, repairs, and other fees can add up quickly in a commercial office space. When looking into potential offices, carefully review lease agreements to understand what you are responsible for.
Utilities are not necessarily included in the cost of renting an office space, which means you will need to account for the monthly costs of water, electricity, and gas — as well as phone and Internet — in your monthly budget. If those added costs are eating away at your budget, consider ways you can save money on utilities.
When you work from home, you can write off some personal expenses on your taxes. If you move into a commercial office space, your taxes and deductions may change. Carefully review how your bottom line may be affected by these changes when considering a move.
8. Licenses or Permits
Working from a commercial office space may require specific licenses or permits, depending on your location and industry. Check local, state, and federal regulations for your industry to make sure you have or can get any necessary permits.
You probably already have insurance for your home office, but when you move into a commercial office space, some forms of insurance — like property insurance — may be even more important to protect your business, its assets, yourself, and your employees.
A security system for your office is a must: it protects your assets and shows your employees and clients that you are serious about your business and their security. Installing a security system can also save you money on insurance.
Your work-related transportation costs may have been negligible when the office was at home. If you move to a commercial office space, you’ll have to factor in such things as commute time and costs — including gas and mileage if you use your own vehicle.
You could park in your driveway when your home was your office, but once you move into a commercial office space, where will you (and your employees and clients) park? If the property doesn’t have a parking lot, you may want to look into nearby parking garages. Nothing will aggravate employees or clients faster than having to hunt for parking every day.
13. Office Furniture and Equipment
Office equipment gets jobs done. Employees need desks and chairs — and your guests need a place to sit as well. The reception area, conference room, and break area will also need furniture. In addition to technology like phones, computers, and printers, remember that printers need paper, computers need software, and restrooms require hand soap, paper towels, and tissue.
14. Office Layout
With a larger commercial office comes more flexibility with office layout, which can affect productivity. Consider how the office spaces you are looking at will affect your ability to work efficiently and effectively.
A lot of factors go into transitioning from a home office to a commercial one. Use this list to keep the move on track and to drive a successful transformation from home to “real” office.