Should You Stay or Should You Go? Tips for Small Business Owners on Building for Expansion

This article was written by guest author, Jim McKinley of Money With Jim, retired banker providing free financial counsel. 

With your small business growing by the day, there are probably signs it’s time to increase your office or workspace. An excess of happy customers, having a great team, and the need for more workspace are all valid reasons to expand. But you want to do it right and keep costs low. Keep reading for a few ideas on how to successfully expand your business and keep riding that wave of growth.

To Stay or to Go.  Your first consideration is likely whether to stay at your current location or invest in a new space altogether. If your goal, for example, is to make your business more accessible for your customers while giving yourself some breathing room, finding a new building is best option. If your goal is to update your image, cut costs, or add more office space, you may be better off increasing the footprint of your current location.

New Space, Same Place.  When you want to physically expand your business space, there are numerous factors at play. For instance, will you hire a contractor to handle the design and construction, will you find a local architect to design something that suits the specific needs of your business, or something in between?

You will also need to account for your budget, the amount of space you ultimately want, and the cost and type of building materials required for the project. For most locations, steel is the preferred option, as it’s both durable and adaptable. Concrete is more economical and virtually maintenance-free, but over time will take a heavy beating from moisture. Despite being more expensive, steel offers longevity, aesthetic enhancements and durability. As you determine your materials, be up front with your contractor or architect about how this building should work for your company, and do your homework to explore all the available design options when it comes to concrete or steel.

Making Do.  When you have no other option than to stay in your current location, you’ll need to be creative when it comes to expanding your office space. The simplest way to do that is to reorganize your layout. Partitions are a popular way to do this and can be rearranged to accommodate fluctuating needs.

If your business is mostly technology-based, you may also consider moving to an alternative work schedule. A staggered shift structure will allow you to accommodate two to three times as many workers without making any changes to your office layout. The benefits to this arrangement are obvious (more productivity, less investment) but there are drawbacks, as well. If one employee who shares a desk and computer with another co-worker must work overtime, you have at least one idle body that is unable to contribute until the first employee finishes. You will also have to implement strict rules on punctuality.

 Employees at Home.  You have the option of allowing some employees to work from home or opening up your home office when you need a space to collaborate. As with the other options listed above, there are pros and cons to this, and you should make sure your potential home-based staff is comfortable working outside of a traditional office environment. If your employees choose to work from their own homes, make sure they are aware of tax reform changes that may prevent them from claiming a home office deduction.

No matter your decision, expanding your office space takes time and money. If you don’t have the funds to make it work, then you will need to finance the transition — and that can pose challenges if your business is not economically stable. Remember that sustainable growth is the key to running any successful business.

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