Your small business is up and running. But are you wearing out your welcome at the local coffee shop? Or is your family finding more and more of your business supplies overflowing from your work area?
It may be time for a business workspace.
While working remotely or from a home office can save you a lot of money as you grow your business, there may come a time when you grow out of your initial setup.
It can be a triumphant moment for you and your business, but it can also be a scary one. Office space can be expensive.
A coworking or shared office space may be the ideal next step for a small business that needs to get out of the home office but isn’t ready for a long-term lease in a commercial office space.
These shared spaces frequently offer space for one or more people, either in dedicated desk space or an open area supplemented by lockers or locking file cabinets. Amenities can range from free Wi-Fi and printing to a coffee bar with additional snacks. Mail service to a business address can be a major perk of investing in an office space.
Before you start touring shared office spaces near you, answer these five questions to help you find the space that suits your growing business best.
1. What commitment is required?
Will you need to sign up for six months or a year? Is month-to-month service available? If you’re looking at a coworking space for flexibility, make sure registration agreements are truly as flexible as you desire. Read over sign-up documents for registration fees, key or key fob replacement fees, and any restrictions on activities you may perform in the space.
2. What technology is provided?
Ask questions about Wi-Fi security and signal strength. Find out what other technology tools are available, like printers, scanners or even fax machines.
3. What’s the appropriate noise level?
Some coworking spaces have a distinctly library feel, with conversation best kept at a whisper. Other shared office spaces come with the normal hustle and bustle of office life. Think about your needs and how they fit in with the space you’re researching. Are there private, sound-resistant booths for taking longer phone calls? Can you have a conversation with a member of your team out in the open, or will you need to rent a conference room for meetings? Can clients visit you at your office, or is it best for quiet work?
4. Is the location convenient?
Ask where tenants of the office space typically park, or look for ample bike racks. An office space near a bus stop or other public transit option could make life easier for you or for additional staff members who may join your team.
5. Do you feel comfortable in the space?
You plan to spend time in an office outside your home, so make sure it’s an environment you’ll be comfortable visiting regularly. Test out the chairs, and make sure they’re adjustable to your comfort level. Is natural light important to you? If so, check for skylights and window-area seating.
What about perks like free beverages or networking events for members? Sometimes a space filled with perks comes at a premium cost, but you may find those benefits valuable to your experience.
As you think about your comfort level while touring a space, think about how your clients would react. Do you need a polished environment for formal meetings? Maybe a more industrial look is suitable for your company’s style.
Many coworking spaces offer lockers for an additional cost. If you need to store merchandise, you may need a dedicated office to keep your wares secure.
Don’t let the attractive features of a shared office space lure you out of your home office if your business isn’t ready for the change. Work with a SCORE mentor to determine if it’s time for your business to expand from home or the coffee shop to a dedicated work space.