4 areas to invest in when expanding from sole trade to office-based business

26 Feb 2020

Published in: Member News

A guide on areas to invest in when expanding your business

You have recently made an investment to start a business on your own (which was an extremely courageous thing to do!). Your business has taken off and you are thinking that now is the time to expand into a fully-fledged, office-based business. Here are four areas that you will need to consider investing in when expanding.

Finance

When you first began your business as a sole trader, you probably had a relatively simple setup financially: the only person you would really need to pay is yourself, you needed to send in a Self-Assessment tax return and pay your income tax and your National Insurance contributions. Other than this though you had little in the way of expenditure and mostly retained profit was yours to reinvest in your business or spend, especially if it was previously a home-based business.

However, once you have made the decision to grow, this may also mean you will need to employ staff and will have a range of additional financial responsibilities. For staff alone you will need to pay them the minimum wage, ensure you take out employers’ liability insurance, register as an employer with HM Revenue and Customs, pay their National Insurance contributions and possibly enrol them into a workplace pension scheme. This is on top of any additional overheads from moving into the office, such as rent, water, gas and electricity etc.

It is very important in this situation that you have your finances in working order and a clear idea of your cash flow forecast so a good bookkeeper or accountancy firm is a must. Fortunately, there are many to choose from in the Black Country, as well as accountants in Birmingham which as the second city, has many more options to choose from.

Management

As well as the financial cost of employing staff, you may also need to learn new management skills and learn to deal with people n your business.

This can be very different to the skills you learnt previously in managing yourself which mainly just requires self-discipline and tenacity but you will have employees at different life stages who may view the business differently to you i.e. whereas your business may have been your baby, an employee may just view it as a job and nothing more. You will need to learn how to keep these staff motivated and productive in order to help continue your businesses’ growth.

Here it could be a good idea to look into business mentors or business coaching, who can offer a fresh perspective on the performance of your business, identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and can help with this step change.

Furnishings and Security

Now that you have a fantastic new office space, you will also need to furnish it. It is always a good idea to take into consideration the kind of image you would like your office to portray – especially if you invite visitors in to see you. Do you want to give a slick, professional and corporate feel or perhaps a feeling of creativity and vibrancy?

A great deal of this may be dictated by the industry your business operates in but you may also need to take your staff into consideration when selecting your office furniture. For instance, did you know an office chair should offer good lumbar support, or that it needs to be the right height for the desk so that the person’s feet can touch the floor whilst also ensuring their eyes aren’t affected by the glare of the screen. Also, if their feet can’t touch the floor then a foot stool should be provided? You may also need to take into account working spaces, rest areas and any conference or meeting places.

Similarly, you will also need to consider security for your office. Of course, if you are renting an office which is part of a shared space e.g. part of a building complex with several companies or a unit on an industrial estate then some of this security may be already covered for you. However, if this isn’t the case then you may need to consider the security of your office as well – from CCTV camera kits to access control.

Marketing

Moving your company from being a sole trader to an office-based business is a huge undertaking and you will need to make sure your business can absorb the costs involved and still grow so investing in marketing is a must.

In this day and age, many people search for products and services online so it is important that you have a strong digital marketing presence online. This will include a fast, well-designed website which offers a pleasant user experience, well-written content which highlights your expertise within your industry and a strong social media presence with a community built around your brand.

However, though digital marketing is an important consideration, you shouldn’t discount offline marketing as well including leaflets, flyers, business cards, exhibition stands etc. Here at NutcrackerDesign and Marketing, we are a marketing agency that can work both with digital and physical marketing.

As you look to take the next step in your journey, we wish you the best and hope that these tips can help your dreams to become a reality.

Submitted by Rob from Nutcracker Design & Marketing Limited
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