Lots of great businesses had their start in a cramped home office or converted garage. But that can only work for so long. How do you move into an office without spending a fortune?
The house at 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos, California is not an especially impressive structure. It’s a small, very middle-class home. So it’s rather surprising to find out that it’s been designated a historic site. Why? Because it’s the house where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak first started building computers in the garage.
A lot of great businesses got their start in a garage or some other informal structure, and are proud of their humble beginnings.
There comes a time, however, when you need to get out of the garage. As a business grows and starts to land some notable clients, a certain level of professionalism is expected, and that means securing office space.
The peril of the lease
The move into office space is a big decision, mostly because it demands the signing of a lease. It’s great to move into a swanky office, but it’s also easy to tie yourself into a monthly payment that you can’t afford.
“It’s tempting to rent a conventional office soon after launching a business,” says David Seinker, founder of The Business Exchange.
Related: How interactive office space can attract and keep your tenants
“But it’s risky to take on a lot of monthly expenses if your company is still very young. It adds extra, and often unnecessary, pressure.”
An entrepreneur himself, Seinker understands the need for upmarket office space that start-ups and young businesses can access at an affordable price, without taking on a lease and additional employees, like a receptionist.
“As much as one wants to warn against moving into offices too soon, it’s also understandable why a lot of businesses decide to do so. They want a receptionist who can answer the phone, they want a nice boardroom where they can meet with clients — it all adds to the level of professionalism a new company can offer,” says Seinker.
Accessible office space
With this in mind, Seinker launched The Business Exchange in 2014. “I wanted to create flexible office space that businesses could make use of without spending a fortune every month, or tying themselves into long-term leases,” he says.
Serviced workspaces, like The Business Exchange, are gaining in popularity because of the freedom they provide. A company gets to have a great headquarters, without having to deal with all the hassles normally associated with it.
“Apart from being quite affordable compared to traditional office space, a place like The Business Exchange also offers other perks such as fibre Internet, biometric access, flexible lease options, boardrooms and videoconferencing facilities,” says Seinker. “And, of course, businesses don’t need to have these facilities installed and maintained themselves. It’s all managed for them.”
But who is this sort of offering aimed at? Is it only for start-ups?
“It depends on the sort of serviced workspace you’re looking at,” says Seinker. “Some really only offer a ‘hot desk’ and are aimed purely at start-ups. Others, though, try to cater for a larger market. The Business Exchange is largely aimed at companies that have three employees or more. It’s definitely not just start-ups that make use of our facilities. Our offering is designed to support growth SMEs.”
Related: The shared workspace experience
Tapping into a community
Another great benefit of a shared workspace is the ability to tap into a network and build relationships.
“We try to hold regular events and facilitate networking between companies,” says Seinker.
“Firstly, it helps to communicate with other start-ups when you’re just starting out. Starting a business can be a lonely experience. Secondly, relationships lead to business opportunities. We’ve seen many examples where an informal chat with someone from another business led to a great opportunity.”
Moving from your garage or home office is a necessary step when growing your start-up, but it’s always risky. Don’t get tied into a pricey lease too early.
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