Why getting a physical office could be bad for your small business
A physical location might be good for more established businesses with lots of employees but for most small businesses, a permanent location is an expensive option. In the modern age of technology, having a physical office space is entirely unnecessary for most startup businesses. In fact, agreeing to let a physical office could be a very expensive mistake.
There are certainly some advantages to having a physical office space. If you are creating products then you will likely need a space for that! Other advantages include being able to work together face to face every day and have a fixed location for your clients to visit.
But think about this for a moment. How vital for your business are these things? Given the speed at which technology is progressing and the cultural changes this is sparking, clients and employees alike have different expectations for businesses. We are much more likely to judge a business by its website than we are by a featureless office in a bland building.
Not convinced you don’t need an office? Let’s run through a few reasons that you can let it go - at least for a while.
A Physical Address is Expensive
Whether you choose to buy an office space or let one, it is going to be a very expensive decision. The more you spend on an office space, usually the higher the quality you get. This is important to remember because your office is going to be the first impression most of your clients will get of your business. No one wants to meet a prospective client in a damp cupboard in a dodgy area of town so getting the right light, space and postcode is vital.
There are further expenses to consider from the decoration you choose to the furniture and equipment you require. Add in upkeep, cleaning and bills and suddenly your monthly outgoings have increased enormously. But is spending all this money really worth it?
Take a look at your business plan - are there any places where you could spend the money you would spend on a physical address more wisely? Startups have a lot of expenses, especially at the beginning of the business journey. Getting a really good website is probably going to help you bring in more business than a physical address. Think carefully about your expenses before committing to a physical address.
Many Businesses are Now Online Only
Most businesses don’t actually need a physical location to be successful. Many services and even retail stores can now work just as well using a website only strategy. In fact, most businesses will have an online site to complement a physical setting so it makes sense to build it up right from the start.
Consumers are also quite happy to deal with businesses that don’t have physical spaces. In fact, given the number of people who are now setting up solo freelance businesses, it isn’t strange at all to run a business solely online. Unless you are producing something which requires a physical space, you should definitely think carefully about whether a physical office is really worth the expense in this day and age.
You Can Hire Temporary Spaces For Meetings
If you are worried about meeting clients then you should be reassured to discover that you can rent single spaces for the time you need. This might sound odd but actually, it can work really well as it means that you can meet clients in a space that you will be comfortable in without spending a fortune in monthly costs.
Hiring a meeting space is also a good way to get together with clients who may not have their own space either. You can choose a location that is easy for both of you to reach but you can also take this opportunity to impress your client a little bit. Just as a regular office should be designed to impress, the location you choose should be suited to your needs and give your client the sense that they are being well looked after.
Coffee shops are also great for more casual meetings. Getting together for lunch is a nice way to get to know new clients and everyone enjoys a free meal! Most places have wifi codes for their customers now so you won’t struggle to work well here either. This is especially good to know if you work from home and get stir crazy!
Remote Working is Ideal for Employees
Another concern many business owners have is ensuring that their employees can work together but a physical location isn’t necessary for this either. There are lots of websites and programs that now allow you to communicate and collaborate on projects remotely. This is great for multiple reasons.
The first reason is that remote working means that your employees can be more flexible about when they work. This is ideal for people searching for a better work/life balance and is likely to encourage the best applicants to apply as they tend to have higher standards when applying for jobs.
The second reason is that when you take physical location out of the picture, you can create a truly diverse team from around the world. When your talent pool stretches this far, you can find the perfect person for every job.
As the environment is a major concern for many businesses and consumers are now demanding that businesses make a bigger effort to reduce their carbon footprints, remote working is a surprisingly good way to go green. If your employees don’t have to travel, they are reducing their carbon footprints. Plus, if you don’t have a physical office, you don’t need to use extra power.
Co-working Spaces are Perfect for Days “In the Office”
If you do need face time with your employees, then you can hire a co-working space on a short term let. This is great for getting everyone together at a reduced cost without having to sign up for a long lease. You will also have the space and facilities you need to make progress over the time here, which you might not in a meeting space, coffee shop or restaurant.
Plus, in a co-working space, you are likely to bump into other people and do some casual networking. The downside of coworking though, is that the environment is likely to be very busy with other business people working. This can be a little distracting for some people, though others find the sociability enthusing.
A co-working space is a good compromise if your business is growing and you are starting to think about adding a physical space to your assets. Working in a space like this is the perfect way to figure out what you actually need in an office. Could open plan be worth considering or is the noise too much?
When you are starting up a new business, there are a lot of things to think about. Getting an office might feel like great progress but actually when you sit down and crunch the numbers, there are lots of other things that should be taking a higher priority.
Prioritising your needs is difficult when start-ups don’t really have a fixed map to success any more. Once upon a time you might have set up an office and started making calls but these days, the business landscape is looking very different. The fixed office filled with employees working 9-5 is rapidly becoming an outdated idea that doesn't generate the same successes or creativity that people need. In short, restricting your business to a physical office could be the thing that holds you back.