How we coped when our business office expansion didn’t go as planned
CV-Library founder Lee Biggins shares first-hand advice for fast growing start-ups looking to move office or expand to new business premises...
Name: Lee Biggins
Started in: 2000
Company description: UK’s largest independent job board connecting recruiters and employers with qualified candidates.
Describe your start-up barrier
In 2011 it was clear that our company was outgrowing our first ever office space, so I spent a lot of time looking at our growth trajectory to ensure our next space would last at least 10 years.
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We took the plunge and moved offices but only three years in, after a period of rapid growth, it became clear that the new space would barely last us to the end of the year, let alone seven more.
What steps did you take to manage your office space?
Assessed our options – We took a close look at how we were using our current office space to ensure we were making the most of it. Could we comfortably fit any more people into the building without compromising personal space and keeping meeting rooms available? And if we could find some unused space in this office, how long would it realistically take us to outgrow that?
Additionally, what would be more beneficial to the business: expand this building, move to a bigger building, or invest in a second office space?
Reassessed our growth trajectory – Despite careful consideration before moving into this space, it’s clear that we didn’t anticipate the business expanding as quickly as it did. We spent a lot of time with each team to really understand their needs and map out how many new team members we’d need to bring on board in the next few years to meet our targets. This allowed us to have a concrete idea of how many people we need to accommodate for.
Planned for the unexpected – Now that we had a solid idea of employee growth, we sat down and thought of all of the things that could impact this number – political climate, industry changes, etc.
Then we determined what the business could financially manage should any of these situations become a reality, and what that would mean for each of our options: expansion, new building or additional building.
Ultimately we invested in a second office space in the same business park – there really wasn’t anything wrong with our current space and after spending time with each team it became clear that moving certain departments to a different building could improve overall productivity. This decision allowed the company to continue to grow, whilst still enabling each department to work closely together.
What three key questions should other business owners ask themselves before moving offices?
1. Do I have a full understanding of the business needs, how much additional support each team needs and how many new people it will take to reach our goals?
2. What makes the most financial sense, taking into consideration any unexpected situations that might cause us to grow beyond expectations?
3. What are the implications of a bigger building and company growth, such as IT and server capacity, housekeeping challenges, HR, etc.? There’s much more than physical space to consider!
What one piece of advice do you think entrepreneurs should take on board?
When looking for office space you have to really understand what it will take to grow your business and meet your goals. Consider how stretched your employees are at the moment and identify who and when you’ll need to bring on board to help in the next five, 10, and 15 years.
Then give yourself a little bit of wiggle room!
Is there anything you would do differently?
I wouldn’t underestimate the company’s headcount growth! I’ve always set very aggressive targets for the business and I’ve learned that the faster we smash those targets, the more people we need on board to help us reach the next level.