Why Opening a New Office is Like Deciding to Having a Baby

"Is it the right time to open up a new office? Is it the right time to have a baby? Two of the most important questions in the mind of an entrepreneur. Presumably these are both questions you’d put a lot of thought into. It turns out these questions have a lot of similarities."

Disclosure: I have not had a baby. I am still a baby.

Are your finances in order?

Babies are expensive. New offices are expensive. Making sure you have enough cash in the bank to cover any eventualities will make the process much smoother. The truth of the matter is that new offices, like babies, are unpredictable.

Ensure that you have secured not only the necessary finances to expand but a little extra in case there are unexpected issues. Oh yeah – there are always unexpected issues. Additionally, make sure that if this new office does not succeed, it won’t pull your whole company under. Simply being organised financially could make or break the success of a new office and your company overall.

Is this a baby-friendly time out there?

Check in with your marketplace. Is it a safe time to expand? Are your customers happy and do they need more attention that you currently can’t provide? How strong is your current office? If it looks particularly dangerous out there for a new fledgeling, hold off.

If you have work to do at home, hold off until you feel more confident in the success of your home office. The hit to morale caused by having an office fail poses a substantial risk. It’s much better to go into this process ready to beat the odds.

Maternity leave and/or paternity leave?

The delegation of labour (no pun intended) is critical in both having a baby and having a new office. As the head-honcho, are you going to run the new office until your “maternity leave” ends and then you go back to “work”?

(FYI I am a huge believer in the 1-year maternity leave, that’s time you can never get back with our child)

Do you also get your second-in- command to come join you in growing this new office in its very infancy? Or are they going to continue working in their original role to keep everything running smoothly? Will your original office be supportive? Ensuring you have support and flexibility is critical during this time.

Is this something that you want?

A baby and an office in its infancy requires care and nurturing. Patience and adjustments. If you prefer the structure and well-oiled processes at your home office, this might not be for you. If you are uncomfortable dealing with training a new office of people, this might not be for you. It also might not be for you if you are uncomfortable with the risk.

There are alternatives: depending on the type of industry you’re in, you could create franchises. You could also hire another company to take on specific roles that your home office is unable to handle (outsourcing). It might also be an idea to look for new technology that would help reduce the burgeoning workload in your home office.

You could send a delegate to start up this new office and not be involved at all. You could expand your current office. If opening a new office makes you feel a bit sick, think creatively of alternatives that suit your business needs.

Opening a new office can be scary, but if you and your team take the right steps and feel ready, it can be a very rewarding experience.

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