Laying the foundations for the ultimate business growth
If you’ve built your company from the ground up, then you’ll know the ins and outs of it, like the back of your hand and therefore you may feel a certainty that the business has become stable. You have a solid customer based, plenty of money in the bank to back you up and the employee numbers are increasing. So, you may be starting to think that the business is ready to take that next step, but before you do any actions, you’ll need to carefully plan a head and take stock. Your action plan will need to be adjusted to a suit a new business strategy. Take a look at Newcastle office space provider, Quorum Business Park’s checklist for growing businesses looking to move on up, focusing on what to look for in a new office space, and questions to ask when viewing the space.

Review your business plan

What worked for your business, when it started may well not be serving you justice now, with your business rapidly growing. If you’re thinking of taking the step from start-up to SME, you need to review and revise your business plan. Here’s our checklist of things to consider:

  • Control your costs.   You will have outgrown some of your existing contracts. Services that worked when you were just the original few may not make sense as your headcount grows.
  • Keep asking for advice. New challenges lie ahead and it’s always good to have help on the way.  Consider mentors, joining business organisations or appointing a non-exec.  Where are the clusters of likeminded businesses you can tap into?
  • Can you outsource? Back when you started your business, you might have been doing most, if not all, tasks yourself. Now you’re ready to push your business on, you’ll need to free up more time and work more cost-effectively. Outsourcing finance, HR or marketing tasks can be a great way to get not only more expertise, but more time for you to focus on driving the business forward.
  • Which goals have been achieved? If you’ve been hitting targets and goals, it’s time to reappraise, push your boundaries and set some new goals. If growing the business is on the cards, consider what you hope to achieve from this in a year’s time.
  • Get ahead of the curve. Start Up Donut recommends conducting regular market research, even if it’s just speaking to your customers. It’s important to spot emerging trends and see where your growth prospects are.

Moving into a new office space

As your business becomes bigger, so will the number of employees. For start-ups working out of a serviced office or co-working space, this will get uneconomic as your headcount grows.You will also want your own front door and the ability to personalise your space to put the character of the business into the office, particularly if you have customers visiting you. The right work environment can increase productivity and have a positive impact on work quality. There are a few things to be aware of when looking at office spaces:

  • Understand the difference between serviced office and rented space – Serviced offices are equipped and managed by an external provider, meaning, furniture, IT are provided, however what is the mark up on these services and are you paying for standard services that you would be better procuring yourself. Renting offices offers far more freedom for you to forge a brand identity in the office space.
  • Make sure you know what is and isn’t provided — you’ll need to factor the additional costs of any facilities not provided but may get a better deal on telecoms etc yourself.
  • Weigh up the need for flexibility You will get a better deal if you sign a longer lease, but may be concerned about being tied down, particularly if you could outgrow the space.  Look for landlords with bigger buildings that give growth options to move into larger units mid-term without penalty. 
  • Check the rates position.  You may get small business rates relief on a rented office that may not be available on a serviced office.
  • Create the right impression Both for your visitors and your staff.  Pool table, events and free coffee… yes please!  Options like Neon at Quorum offer shared facilities, break out space and meeting rooms that mean that you don’t need to pay for these facilities in your own space.

Funding it all

Yes, growth will need funds, whether this is from your own pocket, investors or through government funding.

  • Explore external investment opportunities. This will depend on how much control you’re willing to sacrifice from the business at large, but external investment can be a much-needed boost to start down your new path. 
  • Consider borrowing. Depending on your situation, borrowing to grow your business could be a better route for short term Capital Expenditure.  This will keep your equity safe and you can plan repayments to suit your income stream. .
  • Government funding. These types of grants aren’t easy to get hold of, but you may have more of a chance if your business deals with technology, science, or medicine. There are other funding schemes, though keep in mind that Brexit-uncertainty means they are only stable until the end of Britain’s term as a member state, advises the Telegraph.