A few months ago, I relocated from the city I was living and working in, to another city. This was not a difficult decision for me, because a major part of my business is done online, and all my staff work remotely.
My move didn't affect my my clients, either; most didn't even know I'd moved, and even if they had, they wouldn't have cared.
The same cannot be said for most businesses, however. For most people, relocation just might lead to the death of the business. For others, the results might not be terminal, but there could still be serious consequences.
Relocating on impulse is absolutely out of the question. Preparation is a must. But, whatever you do, there are at least five crucial questions you should ask yourself to determine whether the move is what's best for your business, regardless of your reason for making it. Here are those questions:
1. Whom do I need to keep in the loop?
Moving might be a good thing, but have you updated everyone that needs to know? You need to make sure that a move does not ultimately put you in a worse position. One of the ways to avoid that happening is to keep your staff and customers in the loop long before you plan and execute your office relocation.
Generally, employees keep a business operational and customers keep it profitable. You must share with both groups the reasons why you have decided to relocate, and let them provide feedback concerning how they feel about the decision. You could also run a poll for your customers asking them to vote for or against the move (and give reasons). Your HR department could ask the same of your staff.
The feedback will help you decide whether to change the strategy behind your move, or the choice of the new location, or to scrap the move entirely. That way, whatever decision you make will have a better chance of being endorsed by all parties involved.
2. Will I have to lose some employees?
There is always the danger of losing some employees during a relocation. The effect of this is worse when the employee(s) in question have been both loyal and crucial to your business success. Obviously, your first choice would be to not disrupt the harmony and workflow in the company by seeing someone important leave.
But oftentimes, you will find that your company is not be in the best of positions, financially or otherwise, to stave off any attendant problems of relocation.
Do everything you can within your business budget to keep from losing good employees. Remember, hiring new staff involves much more than payment of salary. So, be sure to have a strategy in place to tackle this inevitability prior to making any relocation efforts.
3. Are there other startups located where I'm moving to?
The existence of other small and new businesses at your intended location indicates a business climate that supports and fosters business growth. Your focus at this point is not to get scared of the competition but to think of how to get customers for your business in your new locale.
You may discover a business ecosystem in such communities that runs with near-seamless efficiency. In such communities, larger corporations may also support and partner with smaller businesses as needed, and the community may patronize them.
This is the atmosphere you want: It's definitely easier to settle in and get your business running under that scenario.
4. What are the cost implications of moving?
The total cost of moving your business is so much more than what you pay the day you move. Consider taxes, for instance: There are many tax-related situations to consider, especially if you're relocating your base to another state.
Also, what is the sales tax rate for the state you are moving to? Will you be required to pay tax on your commercial lease? Note that your move may mean that some of your already-existing customers may no longer be exempt from taxes paid on their out-of-state online purchases. How will these factors affect your business?
5. How will the culture shift affect me?
Maybe you've left no stone unturned on the business side of things and have made all the necessary contacts and partnerships you need to survive in your new location -- and that is a good thing. However, it does not end there. Oftentimes, the resulting change in customer behavior, perception and attitude toward your business can take the wind out of your sails.
Maybe your former location was an industrial hub teeming with new businesses and people with high business intelligence, while your new location feels more retreat-oriented, where people are more interested in relaxing than working. Have you considered these possibilities?
Moving a business is about much more than new office space in a fantastic location. It often comes with a price. Asking these questions will help you determine if you are ready to make that move, or if you should reconsider.