Many small business owners feel as though having a physical office space or storefront is critical to the success of their organizations. In some instances, they’re right. A restaurant owner, for example, can’t expect business to take off if customers don’t have a place to sit down and eat. However, the fact of the matter is that a vast majority of new small businesses—and internet-based companies in particular—probably don’t need to rent office space.
Building a successful business requires access to capital. If the cash river runs dry, small business owners are unable to pay their bills, develop new products, or expand into new markets. Without cash, it’s only a matter of time before small businesses are forced to wind down their operations. As a result, small business owners should constantly look for ways to reduce their expenses so that their bank accounts don’t take huge hits when bills are due at the end of each month. This enables them to absorb unforeseen expenses more easily and make sound investments to grow operations.
While businesses have traditionally needed physical locations, this is no longer the case thanks to the internet and the evolution of technology. Rather than writing an average rent check of $6,100 a month to secure dedicated office space, many forward-thinking business owners are deciding to take a more modern approach.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at three alternatives to traditional office space that may very well make sense for your company:
1. Build a remote team
It’s hard to say exactly how many U.S. professionals work from home, but according to a 2013 Forbes article, about 20% of the workforce telecommutes. This figure, which may be understated to begin with, is expected to increase in the coming years.
It’s not just throwaway companies that are embracing distributed workforces. Zapier, Github, and Mozilla, for example, all employ a host of remote workers.
Instead of spending money on office space, you can build a remote team. In addition to reducing your office expenses, you are also able to draw from a wider pool of talent: You can hire workers from all over the globe. If that isn’t compelling enough, studies show that remote workers are both happier and more productive.
2. Use a virtual office service
Instead of having your own office space, you can use a virtual office service that essentially gives you an address and communication services. The downside is that you don’t have any actual, dedicated office space to use, so if you need to meet a client, you’ll have to get creative.
Virtual offices eliminate commutes, which means your employees will likely be more productive since they won’t have to waste hours traveling to a brick and mortar office.
3. Take advantage of coworking facilities
If you don’t want to lease office space full-time and are wary of your team becoming a completely distributed one, there’s another option: coworking. Quite simply, coworking facilities are places where a variety of self-employed creatives and small businesses share office space. You can use a coworking facility as frequently or infrequently as you like, paying for the time you use.
Small businesses stand to benefit tremendously from coworking. It is almost certain that you will run into someone who can help your business grow: someone to be a sounding board for ideas while you talk over coffee or even a part-time contractor working with you on a new project.
Working at home full-time can be isolating and even depressing. Making use of a coworking facility on even on a semi-regular basis will help you and your employees stay healthy and engaged with your work and each other.
Is it time for your company to move out of its office?
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