Steve Strauss wrote the bible on small biz. Literally. In addition to authoring The Small Business Bible, he runs MrAllBiz.com and is a featured columnist for USA Today. He's been studying, writing and speaking about how to grow a successful small business all his life, so email him with whatever leaves you stumped.
Q: My home business is growing and I need more room and fewer distractions, but I like the rent. Should I move out of the house?
-- James, Architect, California
: I hear ya, brother.
I worked at home for many years, but not anymore -- for various reasons, including this one: Working from home is good and bad. The good news is -- you see your kids a lot. The bad news is -- you see your kids
It's hard to estimate just how many
home-based businesses there are in this country. It's safe to say that they number in the tens of millions.
One thing I do know is that the number of home-based businesses has risen dramatically, for a few reasons:
- Computer technology and the Internet have made working from home far easier. Between laptops, laser printers, websites and cell phones, no one needs to know that you're a home-based entrepreneur if you don't want them to.
- There is much less of a stigma about it these days, especially as large corporations embrace telecommuting as a way to save money. Added bonus: Corporations get to look family friendly.
- And, with all due respect to Seth Godin, I have been saying for years that little is the new big. Independent contractors, freelancers, and other one-person road warriors are now mainstays of the economy.
Combined, this means that working from home is often a great idea.
But what happens when you have growing pains?
I mean, you can only meet prospective clients in
so many times before baristas start calling you by name.
Even so, if you decide to move out, proceed with caution.
In the real world, it's difficult to match the easy commute and low overhead you get when you work from home. Once you move out, you not only have to pay real rent, but you also lose the home-office tax deduction, and that is one dandy deduction.
Here are a few options:
- Consider an executive suite. Executive suites are -- usually -- beautiful offices that can be rented full time, part time or ad hoc. I once had one in San Francisco on the 29th floor, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Clients never suspected that I paid but $50 an hour to use that conference room. Executive suites are available in most places. One company that does it right is Regus.
- Share an office. Continue to work at home, but share an office with a colleague a few days a week. Half the rent is hard to beat.
If you do conclude that it's time to move out of the house altogether, then congratulations; you are in good company. Companies as diverse as
began as home-based businesses. Just be smart about it.
Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer, author and USA TODAY columnist. His latest book is the
Small Business Bible
. He has spoken around the world about entrepreneurship, including at the United Nations, and has been seen on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC,
The O?Reilly Factor
, and many other television and radio shows. He maintains a Website at www.MrAllBiz.com.