Running a home-based business is an achievement in itself. Sure, it may be small and you may just be offering limited products or services, but the fact that you have gathered enough interest and customers is a good thing. You may be presently just occupying a nook in your bedroom, an unoccupied attic or a space in your garage, but as long as you have customers coming in and you are making steady sales, you should be proud of yourself.
On very good days when you are overwhelmed by client orders and answering a lot of inquiries, you might be thinking that you need an extra pair of hands or an added set of equipment to help you accomplish all that you need to do. You may soon realize that 24 hours is not enough to meet your customers’ demands. You will soon feel that your current office space is cramped and that you are starting to feel overworked. With every payment that you accept you are slowly getting more convinced that it is time for you to hire people, widen your inventory and service offerings, buy additional equipment and move into a bigger space. You get pumped up and excited. Yes, that’s what you definitely should do!
But are you really ready to take the leap and take your home-based business to the next level?
A word of caution: growing your business will demand a lot more from you. It means added expenses, more paperwork, and more responsibilities. It will demand more time from you and will expose you to greater risks of failing. Can you take it all? Is it time for you? Here are some indicators that you should watch out for to let you know twhen you are ready to move out of your home office and expand your business.
Factors to consider before expanding your business
(1) There is a growing market for the industry.
You are more likely going to be successful if the general demand for the type of product or service that you offer is growing. If there is growth in the industry then there is definitely growth for you too. The important thing is that there is a need or a void that you can fill. Remember, you are in business primarily because you can offer a solution to a need or problem. If there is no need for your product or service, then there is no reason for you to expand.
(2) You have a stable customer base.
Your small business is considered a success because you were able to penetrate the market and attract customers. If you have a stable customer base that regularly returns to you and influences other people to check you out too, then you have done very well. Having returning customers that continually bring you sales is a strong sign that you have made your presence felt in the industry, that there will be a continuous demand for the products and services that you offer, and that you have satisfied and met the needs of your customers.
(3) You’ve been consistently achieving profit goals over a period of at least three years
You need to make sure that you are consistently making sales and what you are experiencing isn’t just spurts of growth. Examine your sales data for at least three years before you make a decision to grow your business. You need to be able to sustain your growth through consistent sales.
(4) Funds are readily available to you.
Most entrepreneurs get too excited by the growing demand for their products that they rush into expansion without proper funding available. Moving out of your home office into a bigger work space means that you will have to embrace more expenses as well. Along with the possibility of being able to earn more comes a string of things that you will have to spend on: rent, manpower, utilities, taxes, supplies and equipment. Do not rely only on your possible increase of sales. You can’t afford to wait for your sales to catch up with your expenses.. You must have available funding now, whether in the form of savings or through other methods of acquiring capital.
(5) You have a skilled team of employees who can help you through the expansion.
As more responsibilities pile up as a direct result of your growth, you need to be able to rely on a trusted team of employees to help you. Maintaining your production output and quality at a larger scale is essential, and this is where your employees’ positive attitude and skill are necessary. Growth is an exciting and stressful time for your employees too, but it will also provide for them more opportunities to take their careers a step further.
(6) You need more people and equipment.
If the demand is growing and you are overwhelmed by all the tasks you need to do in order to deliver your products or services, then perhaps it is time for you to hire additional personnel and buy additional equipment to help you keep up.
(7) You are ready to take on the additional challenge and responsibility.
Once your business grows, it is going to demand more time and attention from you. You may have to miss family time and spend more time at work especially during the first few months. A bigger business also brings with it bigger risks. You need to be physically, mentally and emotionally ready to tackle everything that comes your way.
What’s your next move?
If you have met the conditions set by the indicators mentioned above, then congratulations! You and your business are now ready to grow bigger and better. But what if you find your business and yourself still lacking in the aforementioned areas? Do not lose heart, but instead take little baby steps and work on ticking off the boxes in the checklist above. Timing, confidence and preparation are essential in becoming a successful entrepreneur, so work on addressing your problem areas before you take the leap. Here are a few helpful suggestions that could help get your business ready for growth.
1. Focus on strengthening a key product or service that you offer before you attempt to expand your entire inventory.
2. Strengthen your presence in your industry. Create business connections by networking with similar people in your line of business. Don’t treat them solely as your competition for they can be your friends too. Get advice and best practices from those who have already made it big.
3. Advertise your products. Get the word out about what you do. Attract more customers to your business by offering promos and special discounts.
4. Strengthen customer service. Train your employees on how to properly handle customers especially their complaints and feedback. Great customer service attracts loyal customers.
Should you consider getting a larger workspace?
Business expansion may come in phases for some. It is not necessarily an overnight event where you decide that you are ready, spend your funds on your growth and move into a bigger space immediately. But for every little progress that you make, take pride and joy in your achievement. Depending on your business need, you may find yourself needing to occupy a bigger work space. Perhaps you add a personnel or two to help you, and it wouldn’t be right for them to be working with you in that little corner you’ve been using in the masters bedroom. Maybe the time has come for you to have a presentable space for meeting clients on a regular basis, and your office in the attic isn’t really the best place for you to present your ideas to customers. Or perhaps you have come to a point where you need to showcase and display your products, but your garage doesn’t have the space that you need to be able to do that.
Before you look for an office space, first determine exactly how much space you need and what you will be using the additional space for. If you work mostly online with just or two other people, renting an office space may be a bit too much when a coworking space would be more practical. If you have fewer than 10 people working for you, looking for a company that has office space to share may be the best option for you. However, if you need storage and a place for equipment aside from your personnel, you may want to look at a furnished office. This is the better option for you because of the friendlier terms that furnished offices offer. Aside from that, you don’t need to worry about the administrative tasks of running an office and making it functional. You can just concentrate on strengthening your product line up or service offerings.
Aside from looking at rental rates and lease terms, location, availability of utilities and accessibility to your target market are other things that you should consider when looking for an office space. These factors could make or break your business.
A careful and thorough assessment of where your business is at is necessary before you decide on taking the leap from being just home-based business into a bigger business. Be honest with yourself and carefully think things through. Business involves taking risks, but make sure that you calculate your every move so that your effort won’t be wasted.
Author Bio: Gemma Reeves is a seasoned writer who enjoys creating helpful articles and interesting stories. She has worked with several clients across different industries such as advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare, family matters, and more. She is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is engaged in assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs in finding the best office space for their business. Check out her company here: FindMyWorkspace