by Jonathan Swain
Running a small business is a satisfying, frustrating and creative process, and the huge variety of online tools for entrepreneurs mean that the benefits of a physical office are often brushed aside. Small businesses are run from homes, garages, sheds, coffee shops or local libraries, but these solutions come with a host of challenges. The rise of digital entrepreneurs and freelancers has led to solutions like virtual offices, co-working and serviced office space; these offer different levels of cost and commitment, but provide a huge return. Here is our take on some office-space options for small businesses:
Working from home
Working from home is some people’s idea of heaven, and is often the cheapest option (especially if you have small children). However, distractions at the home can disrupt your workflow, and there are privacy concerns about using a home address and telephone number for business purposes. Additionally, it is difficult to arrange professional meetings with clients.
Traditional office lease
The permanence, cost and administrative workload of a traditional office lease is not something most small businesses can commit to. In Silicon Valley, start-ups with huge backing investors will buy up empty office space before the business has grown to fill it, but this path is only for the confident and well-funded (or fool-hardy).
Virtual offices are a cheap solution to some of the most difficult problems – small businesses are easily overwhelmed by admin and paperwork, leaving no time to innovate or get serious work done, so hired help from a virtual receptionist or PA (no, not a robot, but someone working remotely and communicating online) can ease the burden.
Virtual offices also offer prestigious city-centre addresses to list on business documents, instead of a private home address, and rent out temporary meeting spaces to impress clients. However, you would still be working at home with all of the distractions and cabin fever that entails.
When the cabin fever gets too strong, consider co-working offices; these collaborative spaces rent desks to individuals, who benefit from an internet connection, phone line, meeting spaces and a professional address as well as the social benefit of getting out of the house. Co-workers are generally a friendly bunch who work together and share ideas to help each other’s businesses grow.
Serviced office space
Serviced office space one of the great innovations of the internet age; sometimes called an executive suite, shared office space, or a flexible office, this solution allows small businesses to rent fully furnished and serviced offices with no long-term commitments. This is ideal for small businesses with more than two employees – you get out of the house, have meeting space and a professional address, a receptionist, and benefit from superfast internet and other overheads without the distraction of a room full of chatty entrepreneurs. And on top of all that, it’s far cheaper than renting a typical office