Identifying your priorities is a key to finding the right office space and determining an office space alternative for your company whether it is large or small. A full needs analysis is critical in the beginning of the process to make sure you are looking for what you need. Studies have shown that what matters most when selecting office space for rent is pretty consistent.
Here is where the priorities stand in importance:
- Location 50%
- Value 35%
- Image 10%
If you want to go into more depth in analyzing your needs, we provide an Office Space Planning Checklist on our site so that you can make sure to consider all the major considerations when starting the process of finding you office space. In addition to the checklist we also offer an Office Space Calculator that allows you to determine the amount of office space you will need.
Operating a small business can be both exciting and lucrative. More and more people are leaving the traditional workplace to open their own ventures and becoming quite successful. Freelancing is becoming more and more popular. Many startups begin with only the owner working in the business which makes leasing or renting office space the largest overhead expense. There are practical ways to cut this big overhead item by thinking creatively. There’s no reason that every business needs a walk-up storefront in order to succeed.
Other than trying to find a small conventional office space for lease, here are some of the office space alternative choices available for smaller businesses:
Share an Office
If you have friends or colleagues who are also starting businesses that don’t require storefronts, consider leasing a spacious one or two room office and split the expenses equally. This reduces the costs for electricity, internet, janitorial, and other equipment leases. Instead of each office partner procuring a copier, fax, and other equipment that both parties use, only one item is needed, significantly cutting the cost. Compatible services work well in shared office spaces. One example that has proven to work great in shared spaces might be a software development company and a computer technology company. There are many other compatible combinations; just be sure there won’t be a conflict of interest or direct competition. Instead, seek an office mate that will be synergistic to your business, so you can help each other grow and thrive.
These are shared office with services run by a management company. They provide not only office space but furniture, phones, Internet, office equipment and administrative service. They are typically a full floor of a prestigious office building and you will have lots of other small businesses around for networking.
Selecting the right serviced office is an important step in ensuring the success of your business. The reason for this nomenclature is that the office comes with all of the most common services already in place. This type of office is often called a “turn-key” office or an executive suite.
If you need a venue to hold meetings with clients, sign contracts, negotiate, and do some paperwork, this office solution might be just what you should lease. By renting this type of business space, you’ll have a furnished private office with computer equipment but share common needs such as reception area, meeting room(s), and other resources used by the entire group housed in the overall space. You’ll be able to use certain equipment and services on a “pay per use” basis.
Here are tips and caveats you should be aware of when selecting a serviced office for your business needs:
- Location: Choose a location which is convenient for you, but also convenient for your clients. Is there parking available either on-site or nearby? What about handicapped parking? Is the building easy to spot or well-known? You want your clients to be able to find you easily and get to your door without walking blocks in the wind, rain, heat, or cold.
- Appearance: Does the building entrance, lobby, and office interior make the statement about you and your business that you want and need? You need furnishings which are attractive and elegant yet not pretentious. Making the right statement about your operation is critical. Is the meeting room comfortable enough for a two- or three-hour meeting if those are occasionally part of your business lifestyle?
- Equipment: Learn what equipment is provided in the turnkey office lease. You will likely find a desktop computer included but check to make certain it is powerful enough to meet your needs. Learn what the restrictions are regarding bringing in your own laptop or other equipment if needed. Realize that equipment you own may not be covered by the insurance covering other equipment, so keep this in mind and learn if the services provided by any specialized equipment are available nearby for a fee. Also, learn what speed internet connection is provided and ensure the speed meets your needs. If wifi is important to you, find out if it is in place.
- Receptionist: Listen to the receptionist answer a phone call or call in yourself to see how the phone is service. Your messages will be taken by this staff person and your clients will have contact with him or her, so you want to ensure the job is done well.
- Pay Per Use: Speaking of fees, you want to make sure exactly what the fees are for every pay-as-you-go service. These services will almost certainly include use of the copier and fax machine but may include other services such as large paper printers, binders, or other less common equipment. Ascertain that the costs are reasonable. Compare prices with nearby providers for services you use in massive quantities; it may well be less expensive to have the local Kinko’s or similar store produce large copying jobs. Ensure you don’t get “nickeled and dimed.”
- Lease Provisions: Carefully read all the provisions in the rental agreement. Unlike renting vacant office space which you staff, there will be extensive details about what your private area will contain and what can or can’t be done with it, who must maintain what items, and other matters which deserve your attention.
Provider: Find a reputable executive office suite provider to help you locate the perfect serviced office. You can find great brokers online, Like OfficeFinder.com, who have sound knowledge of this type of office and are waiting to help you.
Much like office sharing, co-working is a office space alternative concept originated in 1999 where entrepreneurs and small business owners who share the same values ban together to form a community of business people. Coworking usually begins when networking partners find they enjoy the social aspects of working in the same space and may often help either other’s business in various ways. The partners then lease an office space, sharing all expenses. Each of the co-working partners conducts their own business in their own workspace in the shared office and the co-workers may share support staff such as receptionists or clerical staff in order to keep overhead costs low while providing everyone effective support for their small businesses. This concept is growing into a great solution for hundreds of like-minded small business owners.
Coworking is a style of work which involves a shared working environment, sometimes an office, yet independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization. Typically, it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation. Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people, who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space.
Some coworking spaces were developed by nomadic internet entrepreneurs seeking an alternative to working in coffeeshops and cafes, or to isolation in independent or home offices. Surveys show that many employees worry about feeling isolated and losing human interaction if they were to work remotely. Roughly a third of both private and public-sector workers also reported that they didn’t want to stay at home during work. Coworking offers a solution to the problem of isolation that many freelancers experience while working at home, while at the same time letting them escape the distractions of home.
Business accelerators, business incubators and executive suites do not seem to fit into the coworking model, because they often miss the social, collaborative, and informal aspects of the process, with management practices closer to that of a Cooperative, including a focus on community rather than profit.
Coworking is not only about the physical space but mostly about establishing the Coworking community where businesses can work together creating a synergy.
The benefits of Coworking can already be experienced outside of Coworking spaces and it is recommended to start with building a Coworking community first before considering opening a Coworking space. However, some Coworking Spaces don’t build a community, they just get a part of an existing one by combining their opening with an event which attracts their target group.
A lot of Coworking communities have been formed by organizing Casual Coworking events that can take place in people’s living room or in public places such as suitable cafes, galleries or multi-functional spaces. During these events Coworkers can experience the benefits of Coworking and get to know each other which lowers the barriers to join a Coworking space later.
Today, you really don’t need a specific location for an office with walls. With mobile wireless internet services, hotspots available in most metro locations and even urban areas, multiple personal data devices, and smartphones that do almost everything a computer does, it is possible to work anywhere at anytime. You can operate your business from your living room sofa, poolside, in your vehicle (please stop your vehicle in a safe location before texting or computing for safety), in a coffee shop, at McDonald’s, and right at your client’s desk. By using online services such as GoogleDocs, your information can be safely stored online for presenting to your client easily. With outsourcing of many tasks, you can take your laptop and smartphone and conduct business in any location you desire. If you do have a need for an office, Executive Suites also offer a virtual office service as a office space alternative that allows you to use an office or conference room on an as needed basis.
Lease a Desk in a Business that Buys Your Services
Often, a small business begins because on business requires the services that will be offered. For example, an insurance company may regularly require the services of a licenses investigator. If your small business is complementary to a local business, check into leasing a desk in an unused area of the office. In tough economic times, many offices are willing to lease a desk space to a small business that is not in conflict with their own business.
The vast majority of small business startups begin in a home office. This type of office space alternative allows the entrepreneur to begin conducting business without making a huge commitment to overhead expenses. Also, many owners of small startups begin their venture while working a traditional career, making certain their business will succeed before giving up the regular paycheck. Some of these small businesses never move out of the home office, even after hiring an employee or two. Of course, if the operation grows large enough or requires a great deal of inventory, the time will come to move from the home, but many virtual service businesses never leave the home office.
More and more entrepreneurs today are operating small but profitable businesses from the comfort and convenience of their own homes. Most home-based businesses start small and provide a second income to a person that works in a traditional workplace. As the business grows and thrives, many are choosing to grow their home businesses and give up the traditional job.
There are some very clear advantages to being able to work from a home office; there are also some drawbacks to consider. Here are a few of the points to consider if a home-based business is in your future:
Freedom: When working from home, you can often set the hours you want to work. You can maintain better flexibility when time is needed for children, doctors appointments, and other things you’ve longed to be able to fit into your schedule. This can be a huge advantage for self-motivated people. Lots of productive work can be accomplished after the kids are in bed or very early in the morning.
No Commuting Hassles: No one really enjoys commuting to work, whether they drive, carpool, or take mass transit. Commuting eats into your free time when working in a traditional office. With a home-based business, your commute is only the distance from your bedroom to the room you have set aside for your workspace.
Time Savings: Without the commute, you will save many hours a week that you would be normally in your car.
Tax Benefits: Home businesses often qualify for business dedications when income tax times rolls around. Of course, you’ll need to speak with your tax professional but you’ll likely be surprised at how much you can deducted for your home office and operating expenses, significantly reducing your tax burden.
Low Startup and Operating Costs: There is little overhead with an office space in your home. After all, the room was already there, you just hadn’t defined it as your office previously. You may need to update your computer or add an extra phone line for faxing, but the costs of start-up will be minimal compared with a traditional office. Also, there’s no rental or lease to worry about. You don’t have to own nearly as large a collection of professional clothing when working from home.
Discipline: Working from home requires a great deal of self-discipline. It’s very easy to become motivated at first, but over time it is also easy to allow yourself to see all sorts of things that need done around the home and begin procrastinating about business tasks.
Business and Family Overlaps: It’s also very easy to allow your family to interrupt your business time. Just as easy, many people end up spending time working that should have been quality family time. Making a set of clear boundaries is necessary but difficult.
Boundary Issues: It is very easy to “go to work” since it is just around the corner, but it can lead to family problems of another kind. There is no boundary between home and work and it can become a problem, or a very delicate balance, for the very highly motivated entrepreneur.
Stagnation: Lack of social contact is an issue for some outgoing people who decide to try working from home. It’s also very easy to lose contact with your professional network. This makes it much more difficult to remain on the cutting edge of progress.
Pressure and Stress: While working from home is flexible, it is also easy to work yourself into stressful, pressured situations. You want to please all your clients and generate constant leads. Many people become overwhelmed by trying to do too much. Some set unrealistic goals. They attempt to achieve them while others simply take on too many clients or fail to outsource when necessary.
Image: Depending on your client and customer contact, your company’s image could come into question. Setting up a client meeting at home or Starbuck’s can be less than impressive. There are alternatives such as a virtual office. They are pay-as-you-go subscriptions for office space. You have an official business address with an executive suite operator. You can use their facilities on a “as needed” basis.
Storage warehouses of various sizes are zoned commercial and in most areas can be used as a business location. These warehouse locations are great for the small startup business that manufactures a product, purchases and adds quality to an existing product before sale, and service companies that provide auto repair, computer repair, and similar services.
If your business is the type that does not really benefit from a “flashy” storefront, this can be a great solution for keeping your startup costs very low. Traditionally, people seeking auto repair, auto body work, auto paint, motorcycle accessories or repairs, and similar services tend to believe that if the storefront is too fancy, they will be overcharged. These types of business can actually benefit from the casual office space offered by leasing a storage warehouse. Just make sure the type of business you are starting meets the zoning regulations and the landlord’s lease restrictions.
We’d be happy to help you with finding the right office space alternative. Let us know a little about what you need and we can get to work identifying some options for you. There is no cosst for this service. Give us a try!