After twelve years of owning and operating my business as a shop front retail travel centre, the decision to work out of an office attached to home was a very daunting one. And it took me almost two years of debating inside my head before I finally took the plunge. I knew whole heartedly that I wanted to take this path, and for so many reasons, but I was literally quite scared of operating without having a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop front.
Would people think my business was going backwards? Would clients still want to deal with me? What would my corporate clients’ perception be? So many things to think about and consider, especially as I did have a very successful business under my belt – a multi award-winning travel centre, with a client database to be envied. This decision was purely one I wanted to suit me, my lifestyle and my next steps rather than a necessity, and even though I’ve always been a business leader at the forefront rather than someone who follows the pack, it was a really big decision for me. Even though I’ve always been one to embrace change, this was a very big decision for me to make!
I weighed up the pros and cons…..
1) Losing unnecessary overheads (being already fully set up at home, I was paying for 2 offices anyway so there was a big saving to be made here!)
2) Taking permanent fulltime staff out of the equation (after fifteen years of managing, I was ready for some time out!)
3) Giving me back precious time to do one of the things I love – selling holidays! – rather than managing and taking care of endless administration/office papwerwork
4) Freedom to pursue my other work interests – business mentoring, awards mentoring and writing/blogging
5) Freedom to pursue my love of groups/conferences/corporate travel with leisure holidays for repeats/referrals/friends and family, rather than ‘marketing to the masses’
6) Most importantly – the option to be flexible! This meant being able to be there for my family instead of being tied to an office, able to be away running my events without worrying about the office and freedom to work my own hours (I’ve always been one to start really early, often need a couple of hours out in the middle of the day but pick up the ‘slack’ again at night)
These were the main ‘pros’ in my mind, and I also looked at the ‘cons’…..
1) Losing my ‘brand’ and becoming an affiliate within my franchise group (this didn’t concern me too much as I had been building my own brand for years and most people know ’me’ rather than my actual brand)
2) Perception – would people think my business was going backwards/struggling, which was definitely not the case but I was conscious of how people think
3) Would people want to deal with me if I didn’t have a shop front? I knew the answer should have been a huge ‘yes’ with 90% of my work being carried out by email – but I was still a little hesitant as to how people would react
I couldn’t think of any other major ‘cons’ because all I could see was opportunity, the chance to continue to grow but on my own terms, in my own way, doing the things I loved to do and taking out some of the mundane.
A friend put it all into perspective….. “What’s the worst thing that can happen? Take 12 months out, you’re still licensed and accredited etc. And if you feel it’s not working after that – take another shop/lease” And that comment took away all of my fears and made my mind up – what really did I have to lose?
Two and a half years later, I have never looked back, not even for a second. Definitely the best decision I have ever made, for me personally and also for my business.
My business is now more profitable than ever – slightly less turnover, much less stress, far fewer overheads and I only bring staff in as required to work on various projects. My life balance is now much better – in my eyes anyway. I do work harder and sometimes longer hours than ever before, but I absolutely love what I do and fit my hours in around what I need to do. I am completely flexible which is a big, big tick from my/my family’s perspective.
I can work remotely or wherever I am working from on an event as my business is now completely portable.
The only downside is that I can never fully switch off. If I’m away travelling on personal leave or even taking time out, I still need to keep an eye on things and action urgent items. However, I’ve been able to do this from India, UK/Europe, USA and Singapore, so I certainly can’t complain. It’s a small price to pay and I wouldn’t change a thing!
Obviously these thoughts/ideas may not suit all people or all businesses, so make sure you do a ‘SWOT’ analysis and determine what works best for you and/or your business or personal situation. This is my personal evaluation but lots of people have asked me about how it’s working, what made me make the decision etc. so I’m hoping my sharing my story it can give you a few things to think about, if relevant to you.
Today’s world is accepting about how/where people do business today but make sure it’s right for you and your aims/goals!