From Home to Storefront: Things to Consider Before Taking the Leap

There may come a time in your entrepreneurial life when you realize that you have outgrown your home office or production area. If your clients are filling your kitchen, eating your groceries, tearing up your lawn when parking . . . and no, you don’t have teenage kids . . . then a storefront might be the next step for your business. No matter the circumstance, this move can be very daunting and there are a lot of things to consider before making the leap.

Assessing viability is a requirement before starting your business and it is also crucial to maintain that outlook for every major business-related decision you make. If you have decided to make the change in location, then you need first to determine if your business can afford it. Paying a lease is one thing, but along with that may come snow clearing, garbage collection, janitorial services, display areas, increased inventory, additional employees, and so forth. In order to absorb the extra costs, be sure that your business has the ability to ride the transition.

Next, be aware that renting or building commercial space is quite different from renting or building residential space. There are experts in this field for a reason. It is always wise to consult with those in the industry to guide you. They know about the going square foot rate, the neighbourhood demands, the property taxes and expectations. The last thing most business owners want is to deal with more red tape and more paperwork—availing yourself of the services of a realtor can help.

Another thing to ponder is technology. While you worked at home, clients might have emailed you their payments, you might have developed individual receipts and invoices, or you might have become quite skilled at e-commerce. However, it’s a new game now. You need something in place to finalize a transaction immediately. Yes, there are all kinds of point-of-sale frameworks out there, those that synchronize with your QuickBooks or Sage 50; you can use a Square that processes payment anywhere, and your standard cash register now can be anything but standard. Just be aware that in addition to increase in sales demands, there may also be an increase in technological demands.

So you know you have the finances to move, and you now have an expert to help find the best spot for your business. Will you need additional employees to deal with the forecast increase in demand? Dare I say it—yes, sometimes home-based entrepreneurs struggle with relinquishing control of certain tasks. While it is important to maintain a strong control of quality, unless you want to be at your storefront 24/7, you will need to learn to delegate. How to find skilled, trustworthy employees is another article, but it is vital to recognize that YOU may no longer be enough when you move to a storefront.

In the end, you may have to commute to your business, you will no longer qualify for home office tax breaks, and your professional clothing expenses may increase when pyjamas are no longer an acceptable uniform . . . but once again, your home will be your castle and you can continue to build your empire from a few kilometres away.

If you have decided to move your business outside of your home, check out Contract Negotiation: A Key to Business Success for tips on signing lease agreements.

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