Darlene Menzies, CEO of SMEasy – SA’s most effective and affordable online accounting and business management solution – outlines the benefits and drawbacks of the various types of office spaces available to entrepreneurs and startups.
Working from home:
- There is no commuting– Not having a long commute to and from work will save you time, money and frustration.
- Limited overheads– Working from home reduces your overheads, there is no expensive office space, work desks and electricity to cover. Tax wise, you can also write off a portion of your home office expenses.
- More flexibility – Working from home will allow you to create a workflow and timing schedule that works for you. You can work during the hours you know you are most productive and you can attend to certain domestic responsibilities that you would otherwise not be available to do such as fetching children from school.
- You need self-discipline– Focusing on work every day when you are in your home environment takes a good amount of self-discipline and motivation.
- Family life and work life tend to overlap – Interruptions from home can distract you from tasks and take you off course.
On the run/coffee shops/virtual office space:
- No overhead expenses – when you run a physical office you have to fund upfront purchases to buying furniture and fittings which is usually a challenge for a start-up business, you also have to pay your monthly overheads. A virtual address saves you the overheads of rent and utility bills and you don’t have to buy furniture.
- Convenience – The convenience of a virtual office is truly beneficial. Being able to work from anywhere that suits you at any time gives you a sense of freedom and also means that you can choose your working locations based on your diary commitments i.e. you can work from a coffee shop near your customer’s office to avoid traffic before a scheduled customer meeting.
- Limited power and Wi-Fi – you may find yourself constantly on the hunt for a power outlet and reliable Wi-Fi.
- No fixed address may appear unprofessional – nowadays customers are less concerned about meeting in a physical office as they were 5 years ago. That said, many people still consider coffee shop meetings to be unprofessional and too informal, it gives them the impression your business is still in the incubation stage. A physical offices provides a sense of comfort and gives the impression that the business is well-established.
- Renting space for group meetings – The costs of renting space for group meetings and workshops can become costly.
Shared office space/business hubs:
- Low overheads – Shared office spaces usually frees you from having to provide furniture and fittings for your work space and most packages include essential services like access to Wi-Fi, printing facilities and phone services at reduced costs.
- Shared infrastructure – With shared office space you have access to high end services and well-equipped meeting rooms you wouldn’t be able to afford as a startup.
- Automatic networking – Sharing an office space means you belong to a community of entrepreneurs who are going through similar challenges. This network of like-minded coworkers provides you with strategic partners who understand the unique challenges you face as a startup founder.
- Unsuitable for all sectors – Sharing an office space is highly effective if you are a service orientated business but product driven businesses will not have the space for keeping stock and for manufacturing.
- Costs – Even though the cost to rent at a co-working space is substantially lower than renting your own business space, it can still be expensive. Make sure you take into account all the expenses and that you understand all your responsibilities before signing a contract.
Renting your own premises:
- If you have a business that requires having clients come to you, rather than you going to them, then having office space is a necessity. Depending on your business, having client meetings at coffee shops and restaurants may make it difficult to maintain the credibility and professionalism that an established office provides.
- Branding – Renting your own office space allows you to brand your space the way that is most effective for your business.
- Expenses – large expenses for rent, phone lines, office furniture and Wi-Fi.
- Lease commitment – Having an office space usually means having to commit to a fixed lease period. Small business often go through lean times financially which may make it difficult to honour your commitments to a long lease.
- The commute –You have to drive to your office which is time consuming and expensive.
Only you can decide which work space is right for you and your business. Along with considering the pros and cons of each option outlined here, you also need to consider the type of business you run, the type of clients you have as well as your personal preferences and character traits. By analyzing all these criteria, you can make a decision that will work for your business.
For more information on small business advice visit www.smeasy.co.za
Follow SMEasy on Twitter (@SMEasy) or like them on Facebook (SMEasy).
The SMEasy team adds: “As we are a team of entrepreneurs ourselves at SMEasy, we want to give you all the tools and support you need for your start-up business to be successful. For more business and finance tips, advice and maybe just a bit of encouragement to fill up your think tank, go ahead and read some of our blog posts.”
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