Starting an Office-based Business: 5 Things You Can’t Ignore

When you’re starting a business or moving one from a virtual setting to a physical office for the first time, it’s a whole new world. Even if you’ve previously had an office job, it will feel different than before; it’s your business, and both the team and the office are now your responsibility. Here are 5 factors to starting an office-based business that you should pay attention to.

1. Keep Energy Bills Under Control

With lighting, heating and computing, electricity is being used. If there’s a kitchen that has a gas supply for the cookers, then this is another area of usage too. Some offices will have only an electrical system in place whereas others use both gas and electricity.

It’s sensible to compare business utilities to see which providers are available in your area. There are also different business tariffs or packages available from the energy companies. It’s useful to look at a site like Utility Bidder to compare future energy costs to keep them under control.

When thinking about energy costs, also look at things like window insulation, door insulation and efficient eco-friendly lighting. Also, set computers to an energy saving mode to turn off the monitors when the PC is not in use and ensure they’re shutdown overnight and at weekends. This is cheaper on kilowatts used but it also helps the equipment last longer too.

2. Use Business Formality to Establish Solid Routines

If you’ve worked as a virtual founder for the business to get it up and running over the past year or more, you may have struggled with being truly efficient. Working from home has its blessings, but it’s also distracting from a productivity standpoint as well.

In a situation where your work routine is not as robust as you’d like, use the move to a physical office to formalise it. Get back to a 9-5 type work routine to ensure you make best use of the office space and your energy levels too.

Also, ensure you take proper lunch periods and mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks. You may have been remiss about doing so at home, but start taking them now.

3. Don’t Neglect Human Resource Management & HR Policies

While you may have worked with a virtual team in the earliest phase of the business, if you’ve now moved everyone into the office, then don’t skip some essential steps. This includes the need for proper human resource management oversight, procedures and official policies for employees to follow.

Certainly, an employee manual is well overdue. Staff need to know what the expectations of the business are and what the business agrees to provide to them. Also, if formal contracts of employment were not in place before, they need to be now.

4. Strategic Planning, Business Goals and Project Management

Whilst previously the business may have been somewhat ad hoc with little forward planning, the need to plan for the future is now here.

Strategic plans look at what the goals of the business are and how to go about meeting them. They break down the steps required, and, in most cases, the projects needed to get the desired results.

Only by properly planning for the next year, 3 years and 5 years, is it possible to set a course of action and measure against the right performance benchmarks.

5. Security

Security of the business covers many aspects:

Insurance – There are some necessary insurance policies and those that are optional. Ensure that the business is fully covered from both a legal standpoint and a practical one. This is not an area to be neglectful.

Data Backups – Anticipate the loss of company data through theft, hackers or malfunction(s). Use an online backup system with multiple file versions maintained and backups of both the company files and the public website too.

Premises – Review the security at the premises itself. How secure it is presently? Has it been broken into previously and how was this achieved? Do the locks need to be changed, or more or better locks added? What about a receptionist and a policy about not having open doors that strangers can wander through? Ensure the premises is protected while employees are present, and in the evenings and weekends too.

Security Guards – What physical security is present to protect the building from intruders? Are there security cameras and do they cover the right areas? Are they working properly? How are they monitored and how recently has the alarm system been tested?

While moving your business into its own office isn’t for the timid, it’s all still a process and the requirements just need to be worked through step-by-step.

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