No Moving Business Checklist is Complete Without These Considerations

Congratulations! Your startup business has become a runaway success and as a result you have outgrown your current office space. You are leaving your dinky office space behind and moving forwards into a larger office space.  You have spent months scouting a new office space and now you think that you have now found the perfect space for you and your business, but what next?

Moving to a new office space is an exciting new chapter for your business. It means that you have officially made it — you are a success. Moving offices also signals to everyone that you are taking your business to the next level. This change of location and change of scenery, signals to everyone else that you have a whole new improved business.

Extremely exciting but also extremely daunting when it all comes down to you. It’s not like you are just moving house, you are moving a whole business. A business that is your livelihood. Therefore, you need to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

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Draw Up a Schedule

You will need to give notice on your current office space and determine when you will need to be out of your present office space and into your new ones. You need to agree on a date that everything needs to be packed and moved out by. Make sure that this date is achievable. You don’t not want to cause yourself unnecessary stress by setting yourself a date that is closer than it needs to be.

Make a list of everything that you have in your office and decide on what you can start packing away now. Those HR records can probably be packed away. However, you will probably want your customer records out until you move. Once you have an idea of when you want to move, you need to hire a removal company that will help you with the move.

Finding the Right Removal Company for Your Business

You will want to ask for recommendations from other businesses that have recently moved. You will then need to invite companies to come in and quote for the cost of moving your business. You need to decide on your budget and compare how the different businesses are in relation to your budget.

Remember that the cheapest quote doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the best option for you. Look at the reviews for all of the removal companies and the services that they all offer you. Which one is going to be the best match for your business?

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Allocate Roles to Everyone in Your Company

Moving your business is a team effort and that means that everyone is going to have to be prepared to muck in and get their hands dirty. You could ask everyone in your business to be responsible for their section of the office. Encourage them to clear their desks and to toss anything that they’ll no longe be needing. You will also need someone to help you oversee everything.

That person needs to have a critical eye and they should advise you on anything that you don’t need to take to your new office premises. You don’t want to start out in your new office space with lots of paperwork that you no longer need. You might want to consider hiring some tip trucks and doing several runs to the rubbish tip. You do need to be careful though, you need to ensure that any sensitive information has been shredded.

Allocating roles to everyone will ensure that all of your employees feel actively involved in the business move. This will ensure that everyone is also kept up to date on the latest moving plans and it will hopefully mean that everyone is on board with the business move and excited for the future of the business as a result.

Hire Some Extra Hands

You might want to also consider hiring a packing company to help you and your team with the office packing. You need to ask yourself if this is an expense that 1) you really need and 2) that you can afford. You may find that you are able to do the job perfectly fine in-house.

Plan for Your Future

This is the fun bit. Planning your new office space is another way of including your employees. Find out what they would like from their new office space. What do they think works best? Where do they think that everything should go? Do you want breakout spaces? What would make for a productive working environment? You need to figure out where all of your office furniture will go and where every employee will sit.

Internet and Phones

You need to ensure that there is no gap in service from your providers. Notify your current providers when you will be in your new offices and ensure that they understand that you can have no gaps in your service. You may also want to consider researching new internet and phone providers and seeing if you can get a better deal by going somewhere else.

You also need to make a list of all of your contacts of who you need to let know that you are moving. Send them an email to let them know the day you are moving and the new address for your business.

Be Understanding

Finally, this is a stressful time for you but it is also a stressful time for your employees. Some employees can struggle with change and find that a business move causes them a degree of uncertainty. You need to have an open-door policy and take action to reassure everyone. You also need to make sure that you communicate and listen to everyone’s concerns.

You might find that Jane from your accounts department is worried because the commute is now longer and as result she is going to find it difficult to pick up her children from her babysitter on time. Try and come up with solutions for people like Jane. You don’t want to lose any employees. Holding weekly meetings is another great way of keeping everyone informed and ensuring that the communication channels are always kept open.

Moving your business premises is a big move but it doesn’t need to be a stressful one. Just ensure that you are organised and that you are always communicating your expectations. Good luck!

How to Make Sure Your Carpark Is the Best Possible First Impression for Your Business

When it comes to our business properties we tend to focus more on the interior space, than the exterior. This of course makes sense, as we spend much more time inside the office than in the outdoor areas. However this sometimes means that we aren’t making the most of the outdoor areas we have available to us.

As your outdoor area and more specifically your car park, is usually the ‘first impression’ for your company when your clients come to visit and it is the first and last thing your staff see on a daily basis, it is crucial that this area is doing your business justice. If you feel that your car park is looking a little neglected and tired then follow our simple tips on how you can improve this area so that the outside of your business looks as good as the inside.

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Resurface for a nice facelift

Old carparks that have been neglected for many years can often lead to uneven and bumpy tarmac surfaces that can damage the suspension on cars and also look very unsightly. Therefore one of the best ways to give your car park a facelift is to resurface it and repaint the parking space dividers so that the area looks as good as new.  

Providing sheltered seating areas

There are many reasons why your staff may need to spend more than a minute or two outside in the carpark, so why not think about creating a sheltered area where staff can spend a few minutes enjoying a bit of fresh air.

Putting in aluminum canopies will not only provide shelter but can also enhance the entrance to your business. Think about putting in a bench or two under your canopy to provide an area where staff can sit in the fresh air and take a much-needed break outside whenever necessary.

Close-up View of Cars

Designate parking spaces and keep the peace

Staff squabbling over the best parking spaces is something that every business owner can do without, so why not try nominating spaces to your staff. By numbering up the parking spaces and allocating a number per member of staff, you will be able to stop people from disagreeing about who gets what space.

It’s an extra step in ensuring your staff doesn’t start the work day off in a bad mood that someone has taken ‘their space’ again. You can then also create a clearly labelled visitors section to the car park which will look really professional when you have investors, partners, and clients coming to your office to visit.

Add some greenery and colour with plants

Putting in some shrubbery and plants is one of the best ways that you can improve the overall look of your businesses carpark. Sometimes all that is required to make your parking area look welcoming is just a pop of colour and a sprinkling of nature. So spend a little bit of time researching the types of plants and flowers that will last the longest in the type of climate your office experiences through the seasons.

In addition you will need to make sure your car park is security conscious with a CCTV system and also make sure you don’t forget those environmentally conscious employees by providing a proper designated bicycle parking zone too.

Defeat Downtime with These Tips

Downtime is a common problem in many workplaces, but a lot of business owners aren’t very practical in their approach to it. You need to tackle it from several avenues, considering all the things that lead to lost work time. Here’s a quick guide to alleviating this serious productivity problem!

Time tracking and task management

So how much downtime are you having to deal with in your office?

Many business owners know they have problems with downtime, but this is really nothing more that a recognition of a relatively vague problem. Do you keep track of that downtime? If you notice any, make a note of it. Record how long it lasted, as well as the cause. This gives you data that can help you prevent the problem.

Of course, if there’s been a malfunction then you need to make sure the resultant downtime isn’t really downtime at all. Sure, the main task may be blocked, but does this mean you should treat the downtime as an impromptu break? You shouldn’t waste work hours.

Keep employees focused; make sure there’s another task they can shift their time and energies towards. However, don’t just hand out arbitrary tasks.

A coffee machine

This may seem like an odd thing to bring up, but you’d be surprised just how important the provision of a quick coffee dose is when it comes to reducing downtime. Caffeine proves to be a powerful and efficient stimulant that increases energy and motor function.

Let’s face it — sometimes we just need some more coffee before we can face a particular problem to the best of our ability. That or our caffeine addictions start to scream, “MORE COFFEE!” at us so loudly that we can’t concentrate on anything else!

In an office without a coffee maker, this is what happens — employees head to the kitchen. They wait for the kettle to boil. Other employees walk in wanting coffee. The kettle has to be filled more than once and before you know it your employees start chatting. The water cooler break hasn’t even happened as yet!

Sure, these ‘mini-breaks’ can be useful for employee satisfaction, but they can end up being massive time-sinks. Consider getting a coffee maker installed.

An external level sensor switch can help prevent the fluid levels getting to ‘empty’ unexpectedly. With all of this mind, try to think of other time-saving resources for the kitchen.

Reliable problem-solvers

Many would say that the cause of most downtime in the workplace is human error. This could very well be true in certain production facilities, but this isn’t often the case in modern offices. Often, downtime is caused by technical problems.

Internet connection issues, hardware failures, unexpected mandatory updates (looking at you, Apple). If you want to make sure these problems are solved as quickly as possible, then make sure you’ve got a strong and reliable I.T. department!

Of course, what would be even better than fixing the problems? That’s right: if you were able to prevent the problems from ever occurring in the first place. One way of achieving this is to invest in better equipment, but even these need regular maintenance over time to prevent problems.

Better computers won’t help with most Internet issues, though. Make sure you’re working with a reliable ISP (Internet service provider) that can provide high-speed Internet.

Unnecessary Costs of Starting a Business

There are plenty of costs involved when starting a business (hiring people, office rental, energy costs, etc.) with the average start-up cost coming in at around $30,000. On the flip-side, micro-businesses can be kick-started at approximately $3,000 or less.

While many initial costs are necessary, it’s fair to say that many are, in fact, a wasteful investment. And, given that cash flow and investment is all-important at the early startup stage, it makes sense for new businesses to avoid unnecessary expenses and eliminate them entirely.

At first glance some of these costs may appear to be minimal, when you add them all up, you could arrive at a significant amount of money. Which, of course, could be much better invested elsewhere, and provide you with a stronger foundation for success.

Here are four things to consider that can help you reduce any unnecessary costs of starting a business.

Hire flexible people

If you can avoid hiring people for as long as possible, it’s advisable.

Ultimately, as your business grows you’ll have to consider taking on people (employees) to give you a helping hand — just be strategic and selective with the personalities you hire. Your startup should be looking for very specific types of individuals in its early stages.

You need employees with multiple skill sets and the ability to help you out with various tasks in a variety of areas (maybe social media and sales generation).

Naturally as you begin to make more money, you can hire people for specific roles and define the role of existing employees. But in the early stages, flexible people are key.

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Don’t rent an office straight away

Room rental and rates will cost you money you can’t afford as a startup. It makes no sense to spend all that cash on an office when there are so many other options to consider.

For example, the go-to is working from a home office to save on rent altogether. Or you might visit The Hoxton Mix or a similar co-working space in your area to rent a cheap desk — or just use as a virtual address. Coffee franchises like Starbucks, have become quite popular as daily work areas for “solopreneurs”. I written a few articles for Virgin.com from there.

And there maybe other small businesses in your area who would be willing to rent out a single desk for you to work on your business, for a much lower market rate than you would find anywhere else.

Watch your energy usage

Wherever your business is, make sure that you are keeping on top of your energy bills. Even the simple act of turning off a light when you leave a room can help you save a significant sum of money over your first year.

And if you apply the same efficiency principles to every other electrical device, you will find those savings start to multiply by a huge amount.

Trade in your expensive analog phone line and use smartphone or laptop with services like Skype and Google Hangouts instead. With more people getting used to contacting businesses online, phone lines are an unnecessary initial cost.

It’s also important to factor in your energy usage into your quotation and invoice, particularly if you’re providing a service like web design, application development, graphic design, interior design, writing, editing, and just anything else that requires you using software to create a product. This will help you recoup some of the costs.

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Paying and being paid

A final point — never forget the importance of cash flow to your business. You always want to be cash flow positive. It will save you from significant debt over your first couple of years.

Try and collect any monies owed as quickly as possible, while holding on to your own payments for as long as possible. It’s imperative that you invoice your clients to get paid on-time.

Set-up lines of credit if necessary, as you will often find that the interest rates involved are much lower than you will find on a credit card.

But, all things considered, it’s always best to bootstrap your company by growing at a steady pace and reinvesting your earnings.

Make Customers Happy by Fine-tuning Your Business from Every Angle

One of the major reasons that many new businesses fail is that those in charge are not fully prepared for just how much work there will be. This might sound strange, given that running a business obviously requires a lot of effort from anyone — but it’s true.

No matter how much you think you might know, it always turns out that there’s more to it than you had originally anticipated.

A successful entrepreneur needs to know how to approach their business from all angles simultaneously.

There are so many ways in which they need to look at what is going on, and sometimes it can feel like trying to be omnipresent. You really do have to be everywhere at once.

To get you ready for that feeling, we have put together some of the major aspects of running a business. However, this is not an exhaustive list, so keep your eyes open as you get into it.

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The Office

As your central hub, the office plays a very important role in the growth and sustenance of the business.

It is often surprising how some business owners are unaware of the importance of running a smooth office. Any problems that occur in your headquarters, are likely to trickle down to your customer and subsequently affect their experience with your business. No business wants to affect their customers’ experience, so you need to be sure that you are keeping an eye on what’s happening in your office at all times.

There will be times of low morale, as this happens in every workplace environment at least once. But you should be sure that you have the necessary tools and personal persuasion to be able to limit those occurrences and to deal with them accurately when they do appear.

Run the office as smoothly as you can and the rest of the business will eventually follow suit. Conversely, allow it to fester and the same will happen in the rest of the business too.

Uncle Fester of The Addams Family movie

The Customers

Your customers are as important to your business as your employees. It is vital you remember this, as it determines the success or failure of your business pursuits.

No matter what’s going on in your business behind-the-scenes, always ensure your customers are happy.

There are numerous sides to just this issue that you could write an entire book on the subject. One core tenet of good customer service is communicating well. The quality of communication with your customers should be honest, direct, polite, and professional. This translates into happily returning customers and possibly referrals for your business.

Good customer service experience can very often make up for anything, like a product delivered not being slightly disappointing. It’s important that your customer service staff are well-trained, as this makes a world of difference.

And above all, ensure that you are over-delivering on whatever you promised. This is a great way to keep customers happy.

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The Digital Space

In a digital age, traditional brick and mortar businesses now need to thrive online as well. For some businesses, retail has been outpaced by online (direct-to-consumer sales).

The strength of your business in the next five to 10 years will be dependent on how strong your presence is in the digital space.

To keep your business in good shape, you’ll need to undertake a few things, like hiring professionals with specific technical skill sets like web development, UX design, SEO, data analytics, etc. This will help to make your website more functional.

In fact, some argue that accessibility, usability and SEO go hand in hand. With a strong SEO, you can be sure that you are attracting web traffic to your business. This promotes online marketing and demonstrates that you are a modern business.

Consider curating your digital space in a way makes user admire and respect your business as forward-thinking and modern.

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The Product

At some point, you also have to put a lot of thought into the actual product that the customer ends up with.

This could be a product in the more traditional sense — something tangible as opposed to digital.

Do your best to guarantee your product is as good as it can be. You will find that this is one area that necessitates you pay attention to customer feedback. Customers will offer invaluable feedback on your products that will save you time, money and effort to conduct a market research to solicit the same data.

This will help to grow your business much faster.

Figure out how to make all four moving parts work cohesively and you’re well on your way to making your customers happy about their overall experience with your business. Everything else should fall into place as you grow.