Starting a business is an exercise in managing risk. But the riskiest time for a new venture is often in the initial weeks and months as you work to establish your service or product with potential customers. Keeping expenses low is important during this critical period. One unavoidable cost, though, is: space.
Whatever your business, finding the right office or work space can be one of your most important decisions. This is especially true if location is key to your customer base, particularly if you plan to have clients visiting your site.
Even a virtual company will need some type of space to conduct its business. So what space alternatives are available for fledgling companies besides the traditional lease? Here are a few hip new concepts that can help you save money – and maybe even help expand your business.
1. Business incubators
One excellent option for startups is a business incubator, which typically offers office or manufacturing space at below-market rates, as well as administration services, management coaching and networking.
Because it is sponsored by private companies, universities or municipalities, however, the process for inclusion is not as simple as signing a lease and plunking down a deposit.
Business incubators are more selective than business assistance programs such as the Small Business Administration. For example, the admission process might require business plans or feasibility studies. But with some 900 business incubation programs throughout the country, it’s an opportunity for first-time small business owners to secure an affordable space while gaining experience.
2. Co-working spaces
For office space without the commitment to a program, small business owners can also look to co-working arrangements, which are especially beneficial to sole proprietors or partnerships. So, what is a co-working space? Co-working sites can vary quite a bit, from a room with a large table to a highly professional setting including cubicles, conference rooms and private offices. Many offer a great deal of flexibility, whether you need a space 24/7 or plan to drop in just a few hours a week.
The recent proliferation of co-working spaces throughout the U.S. makes it easier to find the right style and location for your needs. You can also find co-working spaces with a full complement of amenities, such as Wi-Fi, copy machines, phone lines and receptionists. While cost and convenience are the two biggest reasons to co-work, many are great places to network and share ideas with fellow entrepreneurs.
3. Desk / meeting space rental
Another space option for a startup is to rent a desk from a larger company. Similar to co-working, a new company can rent a desk, office or conference room from an established business that has extra office space. Whether you take up permanent residence or rent by the hour, week or month, the arrangement offers a great deal of flexibility. It’s also a nice option for a startup whose principals need to travel to other cities for short stints. With desk rental platforms going global, you can easily find spaces from Boston to Barcelona.
4. Community workshop
For new ventures with products that require development, a proprietor can join a makerspace – a community workshop that caters to a variety of interests, depending on their members. Some offer machining and 3-D printing for creating product prototypes, while others function as computer or science labs with related research equipment. Sometimes, a small business can also take advantage of a makerspace to network, finding experts on site to help with their product’s development and scaling. As budding entrepreneurs seek to perfect their products and grow their companies, makerspaces offer an excellent and affordable resource.
Re-thinking your start-up’s office space arrangement can not only be affordable, but can also help take your business to the next level. No matter where you set up shop, make sure to protect your business with a smart business insurance policy. Learn more about Nationwide’s flexible, affordable policies today.