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When Should You Move Out of Your Home Office (or Should You)?

The business you started from your home office is thriving. Is it time to move into commercial office space? Decades ago, when the concept of working from home was novel, small business owners tried to hide their home-based status and sought to move out as quickly as they could. Today, however, running a business from home is widely accepted, and your clients probably envy the fact that you’re home-based.

With a professional business website as a storefront, many small businesses can remain home-based forever. If that's what you'd like to do, here are some alternative solutions for problems that often drive home-based entrepreneurs to commercial office space.

Your business is outgrowing your space.

Are you sick of working at the dining room table or in a corner of your bedroom? Are boxes of inventory taking over your garage or overflowing from the attic?

  • If you're still a solopreneur, Investigate local co-working spaces or executive suites, where you can rent space on an as-needed basis with access to business equipment, reception services and shared meeting space.
  • If your business is doing well but needs space for inventory or product assembly, consider expanding your home. One small business owner I know added an office onto her home after her business took off and found the cost quickly recouped itself because she was able to be more productive.

You need to hire employees.

Having workers come into your home presents legal and privacy issues. Few workers want to take jobs in someone’s living room. That doesn’t mean you have to move out.

  • If you have home office space with a separate entrance, such as a “granny flat” or converted garage, you may be able to keep employees and your personal life separate. Be sure to check local zoning laws first, however; regulations may prohibit businesses with employees from operating at home due to concerns about crowding, noise or parking.
  • Don't have enough space at home to hire employees? If your business allows it, look into hiring virtual or remote employees who work from their homes, too. You can hold meetings with employees at local coffeehouses or by videoconferencing.

Your home is impinging on your business.

Are you trying to balance childcare with running your business from home? Do friends and neighbors drop in unannounced during your busiest time of day? Moving out isn't your only solution.

  • Talk to your family and friends about setting boundaries for your business. Compromise where necessary and create rules for when you can and can't be interrupted. It helps to set "business hours" and stop working when they’re over—your family will be less intrusive if they know they can get your full attention after 6 p.m.
  • As a home-based business grows, it typically becomes impossible to watch young children while working. If you still want to work at home, find an outside childcare solution or hire a nanny to watch the children at home during your business hours. Are your children older? Set them easy tasks to help with your work after school, like stuffing envelopes or filing.

A little creative thinking can solve the problems of your growing business and let you keep enjoying your work-at-home lifestyle.