Home or away? How to choose your premises
Where will you run your private practice? Will you work from home? Will you rent, or even buy, premises?
Many small businesses, particularly sole traders, work from home. It’s cheap, convenient, and you’ll get a longer lie in.
However, working from home is not as straightforward for the private practitioner. There are two issues to consider here:
- where will you carry out the ’business activities’ such as your admin, marketing, accounts, and so on?
- where will you see your clients?
Before you make any decisions about premises, you need to think about where you would prefer to see your clients.
Should you see private practice clients in your own home?
The case for:
- seeing clients in your own home is convenient and cheap, as you won’t have to rent consulting rooms or office space
- you can be extremely flexible on consulting times, which will appeal to potential clients
- you won’t have to travel anywhere or pay parking costs
- your clients may welcome a more informal, relaxed atmosphere
The case against:
- will you feel comfortable with clients visiting your home? For many people, it’s simply not feasible due to issues of space or the location of your home office, as well as issues of safety
- will your clients feel comfortable visiting your home? Might they find it awkward or unprofessional?
- will client visits be inconvenient for your family? How will the lack of privacy affect them, and you?
If you are at all unsure, you can rent consulting rooms while still having a home office. That way, you can carry out the ’business’ of your private practice from home.
So, here are your main choices:
- work entirely from home
- work from home but see clients elsewhere
- rent or buy office space
Working from home – the benefits
- running your private practice from home is usually the cheapest option, as long as you’ve got a spare room that you can use as a home office. For an outline of the main costs, as well as tax savings, read our article on cost of premises
- working from home is convenient – you’ll save travel time to and from an office, and if you see clients at home you’ll be able to schedule more appointments. You’ll also be able to structure your day around other commitments and domestic chores
- it’s surprisingly easy to work from home. As long as you have a consistent broadband connection you can access a whole wealth of information online. You can even attend meetings or watch lectures from the comfort of your home
Working from home – the downsides
- it’s very easy to become distracted and lose focus – procrastination is a major problem. You may find it difficult to separate home life from work. To combat this, make sure you have a dedicated work area, and try to set, and stick to, a clear work schedule
- working from home can be lonely. With no-one to talk to, it is very easy to feel isolated and unsure about your business decisions. However, virtual communities such as Twitter or LinkedIn allow you to communicate and share insight with like-minded people, no matter where they are
Renting consulting rooms
If you decide to work from home but would like to see clients elsewhere, you can rent consulting rooms. Many clinics or other private practices will have consulting rooms to rent on a sessional basis (such as a four hour slot). For example, you could rent rooms on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. That way, you’ll know exactly when you can see clients, and when you can spend time on business tasks such as admin.
Renting premises for your private practice
- renting an office means that you can separate your home life from work. It can make you much more productive and motivated to grow your therapy business
- renting can be cost-effective, as offices are often set up for the purpose; you won’t have to buy furniture, for example, and they should have good telephone and broadband connections. You could even recoup some of the rental fees by subletting
- take time to have a look at all the rental options available in your area – for example, serviced offices often come complete with reception services and access to facilities such as meeting rooms and waiting areas
- renting will involve signing a lease, which can range from just one month up to several years. You’ll have various responsibilities relating to that lease and there could be strict penalties for late payments or ending the lease early. So, make sure you seek advice from an accountant so that you’re fully aware of the implications
- there are a number of ways to find business premises to rent. Check commercial agent’s websites and local newspapers. Contact your local authority or check with your professional organisations for advice
- make sure the premises that you are considering renting has the correct planning permission for use as a consulting or therapy business
One option when looking to rent a therapy room is to use the company Flexioffices. They have thousands of serviced offices available in every major UK city and promise a complete and impartial overview of the serviced offices market. It is quick and easy to use their website, just type in the area that you would like to work from and a list of relevant rooms is shown. Further information including photos, price, description of the office and reviews from previous clients is also included.