WHY RENTING BIG AND FANCIFUL OFFICE IS A BAD IDEA FOR STARTUPS- GO FOR CO-WORKING SPACE
On renting big and fanciful offices instead of going for coworking space for startups
Dear Startup Entrepreneur,
When you want to start a business don’t be in a haste to go and rent one big and fanciful office even if you can afford it.
It is a trap and it can catch you in a very sensitive part you may not be able to escape.
It is not just about having the money to pay for the rent.
If you are in a place like Owerri, an average one room office space in a good location goes for between 400 to 500k.
If you pay for the office, you will need to buy at least a table and chair to put in it.
You will need to get at least a front desk officer because you won’t want people to come and your office is locked anytime you are not around.
EEDC will bring bill for you every month
You will buy generator because power supply is not guaranteed.
You will buy fuel everyday.
And many other things you never bargained for.
Grow lean by working from home for as long as possible.
If you feel a strong need to get an office, start by exploring a co-working space – it has so many advantages.
Work from there for as long as possible.
Before you finally move to your own personal and big office, ensure that your revenue is consistent and near guaranteed.
I share this with you from experience.
It is a mistake I have made in the past and I have seen some who made it and it ruined their business.
I won’t want you to make a similar mistake.
The question you will be asking me now is, what is coworking space for startups? And why is it the best for you? I will share in details to help you make the best decision for your business.
WHAT IS COWORKING SPACE?
Coworking is an arrangement in which different businesses or workers of different companies come together to share an office space principally for the purpose of saving cost. The need for coworking space grows further by the day. Especially in this technological driven business age where an individual can build a million dollar business just with his or her laptop. Online business has come to stay and can only grow stronger and many are taking advantage.
Also Read: DISCOVER AWESOME COWORKING SPACES NEAR YOUR AREA
It will be an under utilisation of resources for a web developer for example to rent a 14ft by 12ft office and pay 60,000 naira per month where all he needs to work is just his laptop and no inventories of any sort. But imagine 6 different web developers coming together to share that same office and each work comfortably. In that case each person will pay one-sixth of what he should have paid using the office alone.
COWORKING SPACE REQUIREMENTS FOR STARTUPS
At a minimum a coworking space should provide the following resources for users:
- A table
- A chair
- Uninterrupted power supply
- A convenience
- A relaxation spot or lounge
- A meeting room
- A front desk officer
- An office assistant
- A quiet environment
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN SELECTING A COWORKING SPACE
The first reason people choose coworking space is to save cost. But if saving cost is the only reason for coworking space then an individual could have as well decided to work from home. Working from home, from the comfort of your room a startup will pay zero bill on rent. But beyond saving cost, startups also need a place that offers utmost concentration and increased productivity. And that is another major reason many startups opt for coworking space.
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So what are the things you need to look out for in other to achieve your objective for going for a coworking space in the first place?
Of course this is the first reason most startups opt for coworking space. So it is only natural that you take time to consider the cost before making a decision on which coworking space to go for as a startup or freelance entrepreneur. In considering the cost you should also consider payment terms. And most importantly find out if you need to pay hourly, daily, weekly or annual rental. Compare whatever is on offer with your budget.
The location of the coworking space you are considering is very important for a number of reasons. First, it need to be a place that is close to your house. If it is a working distance from your house it will be perfect. You won’t want to spend so much on transportation that it eventually becomes cheaper to rent your own office.
But you are not only considering proximity. You also consider if the location is accessible to your clients especially if you are in the service industry. You won’t want to pay for a coworking space in a waterlogged area where your clients will have to remove their shoes to come in. Or where their cars can’t drive in. Check the quality and class of clients you serve and see if the location gives a good impression of you and your business.
In getting a coworking space for yourself as a startup it is important to understand how flexible the place is in terms of payment, timing future expansion, work hours etc.
Flexibility in terms of payment
As a freelancer or startup entrepreneur your schedule may not be quite regular just as your supply may not be. For this reason you can’t guarantee that you will have to resume in that space everyday. Depending on the nature of your job, there might be days you will need to work in the field. On such days you may not have any need of the office. Remember you are trying to save cost. So in such scenario you might be better off with a coworking space that charges per day or hour as opposed to monthly. You won’t want to be paying for an office on days you won’t use it.
Flexibility in terms of dedicated desk
Some coworking space has a rule that the particular desk you choose when you resume is the one you maintain throughout. Others allow the flexibility of changing desk or moving around other desks with time. Depending on your personality you might want to be sure what is obtainable before you commit.
Flexibility in terms of future expansion
It is always better to start with a dedicated desk and move into a more private office within the coworking space as you grow. Find out if the coworking space support that arrangement.
Flexibility in terms of time of access
You might not be a 9 to 5 person. You might prefer working during off hours or off days. Find out if the coworking space is strict with arrangement of time of access. Some coworking space allow 24 hours access but may turn off some services during off hours.
4. Office Amenities
We already listed the minimum requirements any coworking space should be able to provide. But it is important you find out if there are some extras. Do the coworking space offer free internet service to startups using their space? Is there free coffee? Will you be required to pay for using the office printers and projectors? If you have need of organising training, seminar or workshop do they have a hall for that? Inquire if there is kitchen phone rooms and any other service you consider important to you. You must however keep an eye on the balance between amenities provided and the cost. Usually the more perks offered might mean more money to be paid.
It is important you consider how safe the place is for your safety and that of your clients. If you are the type that work at night or on weekends when the environment is likely to be lonely you need to find out if there security personnel attached to the facility. Also important to find out is if you need to leave your laptop in the office over night will you find it by the time you resume the next day. As trivia as this might sound, but also find out if it is safe to leave your laptop and your phone on your desk while going for launch break.
6. Type of Space
Broadly speaking coworking space offers three types of spaces for startups to work from in their facilities.
This is oftentimes build in form of a cubicle or partitioned table. Each person pays for an available workspace or partition. It is usually offered on first come first serve basis. In most cases the charge for this kind of space is on a daily basis. Except on a special arrangement with the management there is no case of reserving a particular space for anyone. There is minimal privacy in this as shown in the usual sitting arrangement.
this is an upgrade from the shared desk. This can be reserved for an individual. This means only you will use it and you can use that same desk for consecutive days depending on the arrangement. However it still does not offer absolute privacy as it is still located in the same open hall. Payment for this can be daily, weekly or monthly.
This would be your typical personal office which is accessible by only you and your team. With this you are not charged as an individual, you are charged as an establishment and you have the liberty of resuming with your team. This is almost as renting an office of your own. The advantage it offers over renting an office of your own is that you don’t need to provide the infrastructures available in the office and the cost of maintaining the office is not on you.
You have to be clear on the type of space you are looking for and your budget before making a decision.
7. The Atmosphere
One of the reason you choose not to work from home is the atmosphere. What is it that working from home does not provide for you?
Concentration: Is the environment such that you can maintain maximum concentration to work? Or is it a place full of distraction? You need to check this carefully.
Creativity: The lighting, seat arrangement and general ambience of the coworking space has a way of sparking creativity and innovation in the individuals working there.
Collaboration: Does the environment and management encourage collaboration, productivity and networking? It is one of the reasons you left your house.
Some coworking spaces go out of their ways to provide extra support for startups in their space. Some provide one hour free consulting session in a week. Others provide IT related support. Some even organise short training session that will add extra value to the entrepreneurs and their businesses.
9. Community Events
Some coworking spaces organise community events for startups using their space. They often invite successful entrepreneurs to present some talks as a way of motivating the startups. They equally organise pitching competitions with investors coming around to listen.
10. Hidden Charges
I won’t pretend as if this does not exist because I know it does in some coworking spaces. Ensure that there are no extra and unsaid costs attached to using certain services or facilities like the kitchen, the boardroom, the training hall etc.
WHO NEEDS A COWORKING SPACE?
The first benefit you get as a student working in a coworking space is obviously the cost. But not only is it a cost saving means of working for students they also get the opportunity to network and collaborate with professionals from different industries who also patronise the coworking space. Aside the direct mentorship they get they can connect with people that will be of great assistance when they graduate.
Freelancers are the greatest beneficiaries of coworking space for startups. Usually freelancers work for different clients or companies at the same time. And for that reason the greatest mitigating factor for their job is an unstructured work process. But a coworking space provides them a near perfect structure. With a coworking space they have a professional address to give to their clients. They have access to meeting rooms sometimes at no cost. And most importantly they work in an environment that brings discipline and focus.
As a traveller you can find yourself in a city where you don’t have your own office yet there is need to work. You can simply locate the nearest coworking space and move in and work all day for a minimal charge. In addition to the opportunity of concentrating and working they will from there get access to other services they need in a city they are not familiar with.
Some of these guys code for very long hours. And most of them have bought into this ideology that developers must work in isolation and mostly at night. But research shows that some of them easily slip into depression from such lifestyles. This is even more common when you have to debug a stubborn line and you don’t seem to make progress. For this reason such persons can benefit from working in a coworking space where the atmosphere can create hope and where they can interact with others when the need arises.
Most companies are beginning to favour the option of hiring remote workers. In fact the lock down occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic has opened the eyes of many that it is not just possible but can actually be a better option. Most organisations allow some of their workers to work remotely with firm believe that their productivity will increase. Even though remote workers can work comfortably from their home office but some opt for coworking space. The reason some of them give is that they sometimes fall into isolation at home and others can be distracted by family members. But coworking space provides the perfect balance between freedom and structure.
With constant power supply, fast and reliable internet and a collaborative environment researchers will enjoy working from a coworking space.
Content creators like bloggers also need all the concentration they can get. But more importantly they are creatives and will almost always need an environment that sparks creativity. And there is no better place to offer that than a coworking space specifically designed for startups.
ADVANTAGES OF COWORKING SPACE FOR STARTUPS
1. It offers you a professional address you can give to clients and where you can receive mails.
2. It offers the same structure you could have gotten working from a regular office.
3. It helps you to save cost on rent, utility bills and other operating costs
4. It provides a great opportunity for networking and collaboration
5. In increases your productivity compared to working from home.
6. It gives you the flexibility of working at different times of the day
7. Coworking space offers a great learning environment for strartups
8. It offers emotional support and reduces loneliness
9. Access to both shared and private places
10. It helps you to break out of your comfort zone
If you are looking for a coworking space near where you live then read this post.
DISADVANTAGES OF COWORKING SPACE
1. You may not enjoy all the privacy you desire, though that also depends on your budget.
2. The flexibility of your working hours might be limited compared to when you have your personal office
3. You might not be allowed to customise the office to suit your brand
4. You are not in control of the quality of customer service experience your clients will receive when they come looking for you.
5. There may be noise and distractions.
6. There may be personality conflict in a shared workspace.