by Jerry Mooney
If you’re starting a business, then sooner or later, you are going to be in need of some space to build and grow your operation. The majority of people start off, around the kitchen table, or in their bedroom – yet, there is inevitably a time when things get too much to run from home and premises must be sought.
The challenge, with this, is that premises can be expensive. Space, particularly in popular cities can demand a very high premium to be paid and most start-up’s simply don’t have big enough pockets to get the commercial space of their dreams; meaning they often end up in a much smaller space than they would like.
There are two schools of thought with this, as on the one hand, it’s important to squeeze the most out of your budget and put up with a small stuff so that you have the financial resources to spend in other avenues, such as marketing and material costs – yet – at the same time, it’s also important to make a good impression on customers, and perhaps more importantly, employees who will be using the space on a daily basis.
Of course, if you have a digital business then you don’t need all that much space and working from home can work out well for many entrepreneurs, but if you have a business that requires production space, for instance a catering or manufacturing company – then the size of the space required is much more significant.
The interesting thing to note is that you don’t need to have a fancy office, or any office at all for that matter, in order to set-up a business… yet, if you’ve reached a turning, where you are no longer able to trade from home due to needing to employ people, for instance, or hold significant amounts of physical stock – then commercial space is what you need.
Before we get into squeezing the most from a small start up budget, let’s take a look at some alternatives to renting out or purchasing commercial space – as these can often prove to be beneficial from a cash flow perspective whilst also enabling you to meet your needs.
- SHARED SPACE
There are many shared spaces available to entrepreneurs, where the concept of hot desking means you can have access to office facilities without the burdensome long-term overheads; you can simply come and go as you please, and either subscribe to a weekly, monthly or yearly membership or pay-as-you-go.
Often, if you regularly rent a desk at such a place, you can use the meeting room or conference hall for a reduced fee (and sometimes no fee at all) which is useful as it gives your business a feeling of belonging somewhere, meaning you can have people come to meetings at your office, even though, in truth you simply rent a desk within a shared space from time to time.
The benefit of such shared spaces is not limited to cost saving either, indeed, the social aspect is of huge value – both in terms of meeting like-minded friends and also in terms of collaboration opportunities.
- OVERSEAS OPTIONS
If you were to travel to somewhere, for instance, Thailand, where the cost of living is much cheaper yet the facilities in most major cities – such as Bangkok – are to a western standard, you could save a lot of money.
The reason this is such an interesting opportunity, for many businesses that are able to operate remotely, is that when you head to countries such as India, Thailand and the Philippines you have access to highly trained local talent that are much cheaper than the amount you would pay in your home country.
That said, you could always use remote a site such as freelancer to locate such talent and build a remote workforce. There is, however, something to be said about the ease and simplicity of having everyone in one place where you can have face-to-face meetings rather than relate over the internet where the person at the other end could be working on a number of different projects at the same time.
The cost of living will be cheaper, by working in a country such as India or Thailand, as will the cost of space and the cost of labor. There are also many places, such as Ubud in Bali, that have well established startup communities which you can access with regard to the shared space option mentioned above.
- CREATE A HOME OFFICE
If your house has some redundant land, then you could consider building a home office that could accommodate a few other people – or a meeting room that can host client meetings. There are many options for this, but one of the cheapest and most efficient, would be to consider portable office hire that can easily be placed in your garden on a temporary basis.
The reason this is particularly attractive, is that a temporary portable structure is much less likely to require planning permission than a permanent building – which could, in some jurisdictions could be a challenge to get accepted on the basis of its intended commercial use.
Now, that we’ve looked at some options for not renting out your first commercial premises, let’s take a look at some ways to make the most of the opportunity to rent out a commercial property and the reality that it’s likely to be a smaller space than you would ideally like.
Now, small doesn’t need to be a bad thing, indeed small can be a good thing in terms of ongoing energy costs and so on – but the prospect of having clients turn up to a meeting in a cramped and cluttered office is not ideal… and the prospect of interviewing new employees in an office that feels like everyone is working on top of each other is not going to attract the best candidates.
For this reason, we need to look at optimizing your space in the sense of squeezing the most of the small space, to ensure it’s as productive and as pleasant as possible. In this vein, we’re going to look at five startup space hacks to create the impression of space which will lead to a more efficient and affluent vibe.
The final point to remember on this topic, is the core principle that it’s not the size of your office that counts – it’s how you use it… meaning, you can go out and rent the most fancy premises you can find, but if your competitor is creating more value to the market than you are – and is working in his or her basement… they will be much more profitable.
What you really need from a commercial space is the ability to focus, get things done, and create value for as many people as possible with regard to your value proposition and unique selling points.
This article looks at four ways you can aesthetically make the most of a small business space, on a budget.
The term “dark and dingy” tends to be used when describing small spaces. The darker a space feels, in terms of the amount of light entering the space, the smaller and more claustrophobic it will feel for people, when inside the space. In contrast, the more light in a space – the more spacious it will feel.
Now, you don’t have to be claustrophobic to appreciate a sense of space; after all, the effects of feeling trapped in a small space, for anybody, will start to grate on them and lead to a feeling of agitation as well as a lack of focus.
One of the most important principles to making the most of a small space, therefore, is to find a property that has lots of natural light – or, in the alternative, but not quite as effective, for there to be a lot of artificial light in the property that floods the space with brightness.
The more cluttered a space appears to be the smaller the space will feel. This is often one of the greatest challenges to working in a small space; it can often feel cluttered even when there’s just a few things left out on the side.
You might, therefore, want to invest in some intelligent storage solutions or find a property with a spacious cupboard that can be used to hide most the clutter that would otherwise be on display. A clean desk policy can also be very helpful to leading to a feeling of a space being uncluttered.
When a space feels hot and stuffy people get agitated; they will also tend to lose concentration as a result of feeling tired and drained due to the heat. It’s therefore pretty essential you ensure an adequate supply of fresh air to help people keep their cool.
Just because an office space is small doesn’t mean it can’t be trendy. Indeed, some of the most desirable start-up spaces today are bohemian in style with fairy lights, paint peeling from the industrial walls, and large tables made from reclaimed wood rather than fancy desks.