"Consider Carefully Before Opening Office or Retail Space"More than half of all American businesses, according to U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, started as home-based enterprises . The number has not varied greatly since the days Ford Motor Company, Mrs. Field’s Cookies, Mary Kay, and Apple began in individual garages or kitchens. If you are currently operating out of your kitchen, are you getting the feeling it’s time to move out? If setting up shop is in your future as a female entrepreneur, what must you do to ensure a smooth transition to the larger world of business?

Assess Your Needs

Moving into a “real” office, warehouse or retail location is a big step, and should be preceded by careful analysis. First and foremost, you must have a sound and detailed business plan, including cost projections for at least a year and probably longer. You must have amassed enough cash or credit for initial expenses (how much depends upon your individual circumstances and the kind of business you have.)

A major consideration is whether or not you will hire employees. If so, be certain you have filed all the papers to put you and your business in compliance with federal, state and local employment regulations. This should all be accomplished before you even interview for your first employee.

Establishing an office or storefront, and taking on the obligations of rent, utilities, insurance, equipment, and perhaps inventory can be a major step.

Things to Consider

  1. Do you plan to grow? When? How much?
  2. What are your hours of operation. Will you work weekends?
  3. Customers. Accessibility. Visibility. Safety.

Again, individual circumstances will dictate the kind of space you need. Consider whether you can finish the space out to meet your needs and match your style preferences. Also, be aware of your needs for furniture and specialized equipment, such as display cases or locked storage, copy machines, Internet access, specialized communication requirements, or backup power. Even lighting is a concern for some firms. Safety and security, for you, your employees, as well as your customers, is also important.

The Nitty Gritty

Your business model will dictate the type of space you need. Retail businesses have specific needs in terms of electrical, heat and air conditioning, and lighting. Once you have your space requirements decided, you should contact local power companies to discuss specific requirements. Shop for the best plans available for your business. Do the same for your phone, Internet and cable service. Business bundling offers can save you big dollars. In new buildings, you may have group options, as well.

View the move to a new retail or office location as the next step in your business success. Your perfect office may be a two-room suite in a converted house in a historic neighborhood, or it may be a decidedly modern glass-walled office in a downtown high-rise. The important requirement is it meets your needs.

Go For It!

Contrary to popular belief, the Small Business Administration reports 70 percent of new firms survive at least two years, and half survive five years or more. In order to maximize your chances of being one of the survivors, get professional help if necessary. Determine if you have complied with all the rules, do the advance planning systematically, and then step out confidently to build your future.