Is your start-up business at that awkward stage when there are times you could really use the accouterments of an office, such as a conference room? But then you have other days where you could just as easily work out of your home office. If so, you should consider operating a shared office space business. In recent years, shared-office spaces or day offices have been growing in popularity. According to CBS News, there are at least 800 of these businesses operating nationwide.
Who Needs a Shared Office Space?
Small start-up companies, like yours, are often in need of professional space, especially for meetings with potential investors or clients. While you could meet at a local coffee shop or in your home, the less-than-professional atmosphere could reflect poorly on your start-up. Other reasons why shared office spaces are becoming popular:
- Some entrepreneurs enjoy being around other like-minded individuals. For some start-up business owners, especially ones that are extroverts, working in a home office can get lonely. These entrepreneurs also enjoy bouncing ideas off of others in the shared-office space.
- Networking. Being part of a shared office is an excellent way for you and your "tenants" to network with others in the workspace.
Once you decide to open your own shared-office space, the first thing you will need to do is find the right location. As with many things in life, your location could make or break your business. Some of the things you need to consider when searching for a location:
- Your market. What type of individuals will you be trying to attract to your co-working space? For example, are you hoping to attract young start-up entrepreneurs or older workers looking for a satellite space from which they can telecommute a few days a week? It's important to have a target market in mind so that you can choose an appropriate location and furnishings.
- Commuting options. Is there access to mass transit? What is the parking situation for the building you're considering? Will there be enough spaces for all of your tenants and their clients?
- Convenience. Are there restaurants and other conveniences within easy walking distance of the building?
- The feel. Does the neighborhood have a vibrant, energetic atmosphere that would appeal to other young start-ups and their customers and clients or a highly sought-after professional corridor?
What You Will Need
Once you've found the perfect spot, you will need to figure out how you want your space to be divided up and how you will furnish your shared office. At the very least, you will need:
- A number of private office rooms. While some entrepreneurs enjoy shared-office spaces because they are searching for a community, others are in need of a quiet space to work and to think.
- Workstations. Some tenants will prefer to rent a small cubicle rather than a full-size office.
- Furnishings. For the most part, your tenants are looking for a professional environment in which to meet with clients and investors, so it's important that you furnish your space with the appropriate office furniture from places like D&R Office Works Inc. Don't, for instance, just pick up a mishmash of cheap cast-off furniture that you find secondhand. Your office furniture needs to have a cohesive feel. It is especially important to furnish your meeting rooms with pieces that will impress tenants and visitors, alike.
- Common area. Many shared-office spaces offer a comfortably furnished communal area where tenants can gather and exchange ideas and to relax. While you may be tempted to throw a few second-hand couches into this area, don't do it. This area will likely be a popular spot with many of your young entrepreneurs, so it's important that it be furnished with the same care as the rest of your office space.
- Office equipment. Your shared office will need a few copiers, high-speed Internet service, a fax machine, computers as well as a lockable mailbox for each tenant. Most shared-office spaces also offer a kitchen area and coffee machines.
By operating a shared-office space, you will not only solve your own office needs, but you will also be providing space for others with similar needs while also earning extra cash.