It used to be, if you wanted to be taken seriously in your business, you needed to “hang out your shingle.” That meant getting an office of your own, with nice furniture, and a receptionist. But as businesses across the country have learned to do more with less, shared office space has become a popular way to cut overhead and increase profits. Find out why shared office space might be the right solution for your business, whether it’s 1 or 100 years old.
“What do you mean, you don’t have an office?”
I heard that a lot in the first 18 months of my company. When I opened my own business in 2011, I went entirely virtual. I used to joke that my business was just me, my laptop, and my cell phone. In fact, the first day I opened my doors my husband and I had just purchased our home. Our furniture hadn’t even arrived yet. My grand opening was literally me sitting on a camp chair in an empty living room with no curtains, working on a client’s documents.
At the time, coworking hadn’t really come to the Midwest. I met clients in libraries, coffee shops, and on rare occasions in their own homes to avoid the overhead of renting a space. And it worked, for a while. I was able to keep costs down and make my business profitable faster since I wasn’t paying for an office and a conference room that sat empty most of the time. But eventually, I needed to find a space.
Shared Office Space Cuts Overhead Without Losing Professionalism
Especially in professional industries like law, accounting, or design work, where you meet your clients says a lot about the work you will do for them. It was hard for some clients to swallow the idea that I was charging attorney rates but didn’t have an office to meet with them. They were looking for that extra degree of professionalism that comes with a polished office or conference room.
But when you are just starting out in your business, you don’t have a lot of capital to pick out nice furniture or hang art on the walls. Sometimes the spaces available to new entrepreneurs come with their own problems like dark hallways, narrow stairwells, and no elevators. You may even have limited access bathrooms or have to walk by a dumpster to get there. (Yes, I’m speaking from experience.) Even if you can find a small office that fits in your budget, it could end up making you look cheap, rather than polished.
Coworking spaces and other shared office arrangements can easily offer the best of both worlds. Because a variety of small businesses share the cost of bathrooms, reception, and other services, they can drastically reduce your overhead and make hanging your shingle a real possibility. Coworking spaces like the PatchWork Collective make it especially easy to project professionalism without breaking the budget. You can rent spaces by the hour, half-day, or full-day, just when you need them. As you business needs grow, so can your membership, up to and including a private office space of your own.
Joining a coworking facility as your shared office space also brings with it membership in a community of like-minded business professionals. You can connect and network with other members, build referral relationships, and help each other succeed. Whether you outsource work to them, or just brainstorm your next big idea, membership at a coworking space surrounds you with other professionals who want you to succeed.
Has your business outgrown your home office? Or have you found that you just aren’t productive on your couch? Maybe you’re like me and are tired of driving all over Metro Detroit to meet clients where they are. By joining the PatchWork Collective, you get access to shared office space that says you’re a professional without eating up your budget. Want to get started? Schedule a tour with a facility manager today to see how PatchWork can work for you.