Are you ready to conduct meetings in a board room rather than in your pajamas? If you’re at a point in your business venture where you’re ready to stop meeting clients in your living room or at the local coffee shop, it may be time to think about moving to an office space. As exciting as that sounds, there are lots of moving parts to ensure a smooth transition from home to office.
The majority of us know what it’s like to move a home and how daunting it is – days of packing, turning off utilities, connecting utilities, forwarding mail, and sometimes living in limbo for a few days with no home phone or Internet connection. When you think about moving your business, can you afford to be out of pocket or in limbo for a few days? Who can afford to miss an important phone call or email or not have access to your online files because there’s a lag between moving your technology from your home office to your new office space? The last thing small business owners need is a lost sale or a negative customer experience because you’re waiting on telecommunications to be set up in your new office. Here’s a checklist that will help you transition from home to office and ensure you don’t miss a beat when it comes to running your business and serving your customers:
1. Determine new location and facility requirements – What location will best serve your needs as a business owner and your clients? Once you know where you want to be, there are a number of other factors to consider such as signing a lease, possible build-out, signage, technology, new furniture and equipment, just to name a few. Similar to finding a new job, you’ll need to do your research in advance to determine a good fit for your business needs. Most likely you’ll need a professional commercial real estate agent to assist you in identifying a space.Additionally, you’ll want to speak with the agent and/or landlord about facility requirements to ensure you meet city codes and business requirements, as well as not over extending any physical space requirements.
2. Choose a move date – Set a target move date. If its next week, next month or next year, you need to identify when you want to move, even if it’s an approximation. Have realistic expectations; a move doesn’t happen overnight so you must give adequate time to complete all your tasks. As you call various vendors you may find your initial expectations were not realistic. Flexibility is vital and if possible you need to build in some extra time in your plans in case you need to move your date. Have a contingency plan of some kind.
3. Determine telecommunications needs – Most individuals and businesses can’t accomplish their goals without technology. Make this a priority on your checklist to ensure a smooth transition. Many companies have their telecommunications contracts coincide with the expiration of their lease for easier administration of business tasks and expenses. Moving is an excellent time to reassess your business needs. Keep in mind that telecommunications and technology are not commodities and as a business owner it is important to understand the basics to make an educated decision that is not based solely on price. Enlist an IT professional to assist you to ensure there isn’t a negative impact to your bottom line – technology available at a residential location is very different than what’s available at a business office. There are many questions to ask. Can you move your current business number to this address? What Internet speeds are available at this address? Which providers have serviceability to this address and do any of them need time for construction to bring service to the address if they don’t? These questions are not a comprehensive list of everything you may need to ask. Assess the communications capabilities at your new address to ensure your needs are met.
4. Assign a dedicated person for all phases of the move – Delegate the responsibility of the move process to a trusted colleague or employee. If you’re a small company, perhaps that is you. Regardless, you need assistance from others, as well as buy-in from staff. Also, schedule time on your calendar to hold planning meetings where you discuss and handle move responsibilities.
5. Communicate reasons for move to employees – If you have employees, get them engaged in the moving process as they can make or break a smooth transition. It’s best to communicate your reasons for a move to ensure a greater understanding and acceptance from your staff. Let’s face it, there’s a lot to be said for working from home, so it may be a tough shift for some of your employees. Be transparent, communicate with them throughout the entire process and reinforce the strategy behind the move.
6. Assess current and future needs – A detailed assessment of current and future needs in regards to furniture, equipment, services, etc. is important to understand when planning a move. Expectations need to be managed so that you are able to adequately determine future needs to ensure stability in the new space.
If these tips make your head spin, don’t worry. You can manage any business move successfully with patience, time and forethought. It’s your business and you want the move to be successful, so put together a plan and stick to it. At the end of the day, the goal is to position yourself to best serve your customers. Best wishes for a smooth move and much success in your new space!
Bill Weaverling is a veteran of the telecommunications industry with more than 11 years of experience. He is an expert in determining how technology can help enable growth for the small to medium-sized business. You can find Bill on LinkedIn or reach him at Bill.Weaverling@Cox.com.