How to open an office in a new city?

Pavel Buianov
31 October 2019

Things to never forget if setting up a satellite office in another city

When it comes to launching a new representative office and getting your first hire scaling, the deal is not all about finding a suitable office location either hiring workers with the set of skills as required. The task is more complex – it is rather about establishing an inclusive corporate culture and a friendly atmosphere in the team. Founders who want to expand will probably face multiple organizational challenges on their way to success. But shared team values and efficient teamwork help a business to cope with any challenges.

Since we launched Boosta Lviv in the fall of 2015, our team has already expanded to 8 divisions. These include departments focused on customer support, sales, SEO-expertise, website development, financial support, and HR. Our company now contains about 70 people, and we are still growing.

Why Lviv?

The company’s initial business idea of ​​expanding the business to another city appeared in the early summer of 2015. During the next three months, we interviewed countless candidates in Mykolaiv (my hometown, which we considered as a potential location for our new office), Odesa, and Lviv. The last one seemed the most interesting and benefitted our company with its IT-cluster rapid extension and a continuously growing number of English-knowledgeable specialists. Basically, these two factors were the most influential for us to choose Lviv for opening our new office. At Boosta, we believe that space arranged with everything workers need to perform their duties is not yet an office. A workspace makes the real value when it makes your employees want to come back every day. It needs to encourage your team for efficient work, growth, and development rather than grabbing every opportunity to leave home earlier.

The second issue we had to deal with was to sustain an adequate supply of qualified employees. Getting a good first hire is an extremely important task as its members are the foundation for both adoption and further development of your business in a new city. When we hired our primary team, human values were the same important as professional skills.

A while after we started, we realized that expending a team is not as easy as we expected and is a bit hard to predict. What is vital for companies, is to remain flexible and adaptive to stick to the expansion strategy. When we launched, our hire approach was rather progressive: 3-5-8-10 people. Like any other novice on the market, we did not avoid making some mistakes. But the projects were progressed, new orders kept arriving, so we kept flowing and survived.

 

Local flavor

Based on our experience, we would recommend you to open a new office in big cities to access a larger pool of potential employees. Prior to making any decisions about opening a second location, research how many universities are located there. This will allow you to apprehend how many young specialists may be willing to work for your subsidiary.

It is also key important for IT companies to conduct market research before expanding. Organize a small city-tour to measure the strength of the existing demand and consider the competition in the new target market. To feel the local lifestyle better, schedule a few interviews with its citizens. This will help you to sense not only the city but also its people.

As I have already mentioned, we chose Lviv primarily because of its IT-cluster development. Compared to other Ukrainian cities, the number of candidates who have enough expertise and desire to start a career in IT is considerably higher. Not to mention Lviv’s exceptional atmosphere of the beautiful, cozy, and tranquil place. Apparently, Lviv is one of those cities with its own charisma.

When launching an office in Lviv, we considered the level of local salaries, the cost of renting premises, and the experience of employees. Our team also investigated the cultural features of the city, noting the promising development of tourism.

 

Get a good first hire

Being a product-focused company, we started our search from employees with customer support background. Given that our target audience is mostly English-speaking, another key important issue was to estimate applicants’ knowledge of both spoken and written English. We chose self-motivated candidates who possess great listening skills and capable of accurate consideration of issues to solve them later. No doubts, all these tasks require an excellent level of English.

Finding and recruiting the top-best office managers and HR specialists also worth your special attention. This part of a team builds a healthy atmosphere in the office and ensures the efficient performance of the entire team.

During interviews, we are cautious not only to the CV details but also to the behavior of a potential associate. Facial expressions, gestures, the skill to present yourself – all these factors deliver more information about individuals than most of the facts usually found in CVs.

Aiming to incorporate all the best specialists’ features within your team’s members, forget about hiring someone you would not like to spend time with after work.

What is interesting, the most successful, ambitious, determined, and active employees did not work a day in IT before Boosta. Many of those who came to us very young and inexperienced today are in leadership positions. If you have the desire and basic skills, do not be afraid to try yourself in a new area.

When choosing employees, we require not only hard skills, but also soft ones. The last one calls for the ability to understand people, communicate within our team as well as with global departments.

We spend almost half our lives at work, so the comfort of our employees and the atmosphere inside the company are important. To illustrate, we congratulate our employees on their birthday, and this tradition is unlikely to disappear, even when our unit will expand to several hundred colleagues. It is important for everyone to feel a part of a big and friendly family. Another advice we could give is to communicate with the team interactively. For example, we organize movie days for teambuilding and add a little gamification (gift quizzes work great).

A devoted team can be associated with a mechanism – each detail is vitally important to be in its place.

 

Synchronize

Our company develops 2 types of projects, namely educational portals and marketing tools. Most of them are implemented in both Kyiv and Lviv offices at the same time. The whole process is based on good coordination and a common understanding of the goals that the teams are managing. Setting constant communication channels is not always easy. However, our experience proves that the distance between offices and people is not an obstacle to the effective development of a business.

There is no surprise that it is important to conduct regular Skype calls to update the current status of projects and specific tasks. Especially when the company needs to set efficient relationships at a distance.

The development strategy of the company and individual offices should be divided into several checkpoints by which you will check to see if you are out of your way. This way you can achieve your goals as quickly as possible without losing your mind on the global strategy.

To create a business from scratch, launch in another city, or enter new markets, you need to be patient, attract professionals, and organize the team to the smallest detail. Do not be terrified about difficulties and adequately evaluate your capabilities.

The more you delay the start of the launch, the more money it will require, and the longer it will pay off. As we all know, time is an essential resource in any business; so do not waste yours.

 

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