Ilaunched Indie Business from a spare bedroom in my Washington, DC, home in 2000. Since my family and I moved to North Carolina in 2006, our office has been in a room on the first floor of our South Charlotte home. In September 2010, I told you about our move to a co-working space in uptown Charlotte. In January 2011, I told you about our move out of it. Today, I'm excited to share that we're moving into commercial office space. Here is what it looked like this afternoon.
It's a little messy and way too green for me, but our contractors are doing a great job of cleaning up after knocking down walls earlier this week. Why are we moving? Because the signs are all pointing in that direction. Since many of you who work from home often contemplate moving your business out of your home, I thought I'd share the signs I am taking into account as I make this move. Perhaps you can relate. Here are my Top 10 Signs It's Time To Move Your Small Business Out Of Your Home.
1. You want to be more visible in your local community
There's nothing like street signage to keep your brand locally visible 24/7, when you are there and when you are not. Whether people are walking down the street, taking a photo in front of your building, or passing by in a bus, your brand is there making a mark in your local community in a physical way. People who learn about you by walking and driving by will appreciate that your business supports the economy of their town in a visible way.
2. You want to hire people, and don't want them in your home
For many years, everything I did could be done by me, by one of my family members or virtually by my virtual assistant. Most things still can, but it won't be that way for long. We've got great plans, and physical hands will be needed to execute them. Having a commercial space will make that possible. I'm looking forward to being a part of an in-person team.
3. Your children are old enough to “borrow” your stuff
As a mother, I'm OK with not being able to find the occasional pen, pencil or pair of scissors. But when I hear my office phone ring and no one can find it because the last person who “borrowed it just for a second” didn't put it back, I'm not a happy camper. Moving on …
4. You want your house back
At some point, you might just become tired of walking past a room that could be your craft room, yoga room, or spare bedroom — and see nothing but work. I'm ready not to see that anymore.
If you have a growing business manufacturing products, food or cosmetics in particular, you may not have the space and flexibility you need to maintain a consistently clean manufacturing area. This is another reason to try to find space outside your home.
5. You can no longer think well in your office
As your business grows, you may find that it becomes more difficult to think and plan when you are in a place where you also do the dishes, pick up after people, and hear other people's smart phones ring. I'm all for multi-tasking when necessary, and I became quite good at it when my kids were very young. But they are 9 and 11 now, and multi-tasking is less physical and more mental.
I could plan my next business move easily in my head at the same time I was playing with train sets or toy dolls, but I cannot achieve the same level of thinking when I'm navigating tween trauma. It's time to put myself in a position where I can devote maximum mental energy to one thing at a time, and I believe that having more physical distinction between work and home will help me do that.
6. You want to take advantage of local opportunities
Yes, you can do this from home, but let's face it. You are probably more likely to skip a late afternoon downtown networking meeting if you are home than if you are already dressed and can swing by the meeting on your way home. Opportunities do materialize online, but local opportunities materialize more in a face-to-face atmosphere when people are in community together. That's what I have found anyway.
7. You just want more skin in the game
This is a short handed way of describing a feeling that you just want to perceive that you have a more credible business.
Don't get me wrong — I'm not saying that at-home businesses have no credibility. I would never say that, especially considering that the US Small Business Administration once named the one of the nation's Home-Based Business Advocates of the Year. I've been leading a business from my home for 13 years.
What I am saying is that there is something elevating about moving into space where other small business owners together pull the weight of the small business community. I'm looking forward to the power of our numbers and the way in which communities like these rise (and hopefully not fall!) together.
8. You're ready to take on more risk
Entrepreneurship is about taking risks and putting yourself out there.Tweet this!
The more risk, the more reward — when things work out, that is.
I'm ready for the increased risk, and the increased rewards. I have talked it over with my family, my mentors, my MasterMind partners, my advisors and most of all, myself. I'm ready for more risk. And while I know there are no guarantees, I'm willing to take the risk in order to position myself for more rewards.
9. There is no room in your house where your business isn't
If you've had a home-based business for more than a month, you know what it's like to see your business in pieces everywhere. There's the pile of mail you left in the den, the office phone (which was borrowed again), the just-delivered ingredients that have to be opened and properly stored, and the list goes on. If you're tired of this, as I am, your family members probably are too, and they are likely to support any action you take to change it.
10. You feel like you may be becoming stagnant
If you kind of feel like things are going OK, but you are not sensing energy and growth, then something has to change. Maybe you just need a vacation or a good MasterMind session. Or maybe you just need a change of scenery and routine. All of that is fine. But if those options turn out to be temporary band-aids and not solutions, changing your physical surroundings and shaking up your routine in a more permanent way might be in order.
11. For my children
Yes, I just thought of one more thing, and it's important to me.
My kids are old enough now to to put to work what I've been teaching them for a decade:
Entrepreneurship is not an option.
While our government has been busy bailing everyone else out, the middle class has had to buckle down and bail our own selves out. Indie Business has made it through the toughest economic downturn in modern history, and we are ready for the next step. My children need to not only see it, but also participate in and contribute to it.
It's time for them to help the business in a more public way and to use our collective experience to prepare them for entrepreneurship. I am looking forward to having their help, to paying them for it, and to using Indie Business as a way to train them on everything from dealing with difficult customers, to handling money (the virtual and real kind), to welcoming guests, to crunching numbers, to restocking the coffee bar.
The Time Is Now
When I quit my last real job, I did so because I wanted to have the kind of freedom and flexibility that would allow me to make a living and raise a family. I knew that, while my children were very young, I would need to do that from home.
And so, I did.
I am now ready for the next level up. I have a plan (can't wait to share!), the numbers work out, and I'm ready to lean into it.
I'm excited about the next phase of my journey and I feel honored that you are coming along with me.