Choosing offices can sometimes be a case of books and their covers. When we see swanky headquarters, we immediately assume that the business too must be equally impressive. Many successful enterprises have exploited this prejudice to their advantage.
Unfortunately, this same concept has also convinced many smaller startups to spend unreasonable amounts of money on setting up impressive offices they really don’t need.
If you’re just starting out, chances are you can get away with a lot less than you think you need to run a business.
Start with the basics and get equipment as and when you need it.
Arthur Ashe is famously quoted for saying: “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”. He went on to become the only black man ever who could exhibit three singles titles trophies on his mantle: Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open.
How often do you put off doing what needs to get done because you think you first need to have the right equipment and be in the best possible environment before you start? You don’t need an office, a meeting room, a receptionist or even a landline to start running a business.
Simply start doing what you can, from wherever you can, and allow your business to grow around your evolving needs.
Too many businesses make setting up a fully equipped office their starting point only to realise, when it’s time for the annual stock take, that the projector screen is still in plastic wrap.
Use only the office services you need.
Once you do start to develop the distinct need for a designated meeting room, fixed permanent premises or a staffed reception, shop around and explore your options first. There are many alternatives to making long-term commitments.
Business centres, like those run by i2 Office, are a valuable resource to the independent entrepreneur and have helped many startups find their feet before taking the plunge and moving to a fully-fledged office.
If you and/or your team work independently from various locations, but you need to occasionally meet up or present to clients, you could simply rent a meeting room by the hour. These are usually fully equipped with the latest video conferencing and projecting technology.
If it is an office you need, but you think your company might rapidly outgrow a smaller space in the next year, or if you are self-employed and likely to spend extended periods away from the office leaving it completely empty, renting desks or a small fully furnished and serviced office in a business centre could make far better sense than committing to a long-term rental agreement.
Outsource your reception.
It is difficult to ignore a ringing cellphone, particularly when it is one of the main ways your clients and customers get in touch with you. But having to drop what you’re doing to pick up the phone can quickly take its toll on your productivity and that of your staff.
The traditional answer to this conundrum is to hire a full-time receptionist. But few small companies (let alone independent entrepreneurs) can afford to hire someone just to field calls. And if your phone isn’t ringing off the hook, it’s not always cost-efficient to have a dedicated receptionist.
This is where a virtual office can save your small business a significant amount of money. Your calls will be directed to a receptionist who will take messages and forward calls when you are available. Because they take calls for a number of other clients, you’ll get a virtual reception service at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time receptionist.