Market musings

In Search of Greener Pastures (and Faster Internet)

by Sasha Viasasha
March 16, 2018

Looking for the perfect spot to relocate your business? Have you outgrown your current location, or are you searching for an area with better infrastructure? Or, in the case of companies exiting from overheated rental markets, maybe you need a little more bang for your buck. It’s easy to know when you’ve outgrown your current digs, but finding the right solution can take time, patience, and plenty of due diligence. Common mistakes include focusing narrowly on a few costs, missing important regulatory issues, and minimizing the impact of quality-of-life factors.

Planning for growth, expansion, and yes, the ever-present reality of a potential contraction means taking a real organizational inventory and examining your business model.

A move will inevitably alter the way you run your business. For example, with the rise of flexible work, you might discover a local talent pipeline isn’t so important, or if you’re moving into one of the world’s emerging 5G hotspots, you can transition more readily to a mobile-first, cloud-enabled infrastructure.

While low taxes are nice, be sure you know what amenities you are sacrificing in return. What is the state of the local budget and education system? Is there a looming crisis brewing in the local town hall, or has a future-looking team taken the helm?

The wish list

In its recent proposal for cities to host its new headquarters, Amazon started out with a basic list: a city of more than a million people, an international airport, mass transit, quality higher education and an educated workforce and solid business climate. From there, it went on to narrow the list of potential candidates down to the best ones. As cities prepared their proposals, they offered up additional perks and benefits, touting little known programs and projects and making their cases. In the process, Amazon actually learned a lot about potential markets and partners.

Rank your priorities but be somewhat flexible in case a creative solution presents itself. For example if low taxes are important, but the cost of taxes comes with faster internet or a better talent market, is it worth it? Take a close look at:

  • Infrastructure and political climate
  • Regulatory environment and taxes
  • Transportation and quality of life issues
  • Economic development services and grants 

Whether you are shopping for a new city or neighborhood, you can use this process. Once you’ve identified the right location, you can hunt down the perfect spot!

The moving team

A team-based approach to fact-finding and discovery works great. Bring in as many stakeholders as makes sense and form a committee, with different responsibilities and areas of focus. Then you can fan out, get to know the neighborhood, visit sites, and even drop in to local events and town halls or business networks.

Don't neglect networking, mingling, and meeting up with locals in the new location. This can pay off in many ways. Dig in for details such as a history of previous tenants, or to reach out to a prior occupant for the inside scoop. Call the local utility companies—they are usually happy to provide monthly cost estimates based on past usage.

Acquaint yourself with the local internet providers and test your mobile devices throughout the area—at different times during the day. Not only will these steps help you eliminate potential problem sites, they will also help you ultimately negotiate a better deal.

Decision time

Bring together all the data and create visualizations to help your team decide on a location. Have each stakeholder present their findings, and don’t hesitate to follow up when you want more detailed answers to big questions.

Working together on choosing a location can help build buy-in for what ultimately might be the most important competitive advantage you have: a strong, cohesive culture of teamwork so you can meet obstacles as they arise. You'll need to work together cooperatively to rebuild effective organizational operations in the context of your new geography, team, and technological infrastructure.

Consider coworking

Once you’ve located the right spot locally or have chosen to expand into a totally new city, consider smoothing over the transition by taking advantage of a coworking space at your destination. More and more small businesses are foregoing restrictive leases for flexible coworking memberships and eliminating costly infrastructure in the process.

Depending on your business, coworking might make sense in the short or even long term. If you’re expanding into a new market or testing out an innovative concept, a zero infrastructure model can help you enter, exit, or scale with minimal capital expenditure and IT resources.

Stay connected

When you’re ready to start planning your move, download our office moving checklist to stay organized as moving day approaches. As you transition to your new space, the Spoke Phone application can keep your business connected as you shop for the right business phone system. Port your number over and deploy the full power of a virtual PBX across your mobile phone system. Our business application can work with a landline or alone, and is virtually all you need to run your company, on moving day and after. Learn more about how Spoke can work for your business. Claim your own free trial or private demo and move on to greener pastures.