How do you work out whether you need an office or studio space? It’s a significant part of your cost base if you do so it’s worth looking at the pros & cons. If you don’t what are the reasonable substitutes? If you do how do you choose?
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do I mostly go to visit my clients or do they come to me?
- Would this change if I had suitable space to invite them to?
- Would it make me more efficient if clients came to me? (and would they be happy to come over?)
- What would it add to the client to meet at my site (seeing other work, use of tools that I can only have in one location etc)
- Might it lead to more/new work if they could see more of what I do or the way I work?
- Could I ask staff or freelancers to work on my site and would the team work better if we did this?
- If I’m growing will I be employing (more) staff and therefore need a place for them to work?
- Where would it make most sense to locate myself – near my suppliers, my staff base or my clients?
- What type of space do I need, where does this space exist and what does it cost?
- What is the minimum lease period (managed office space can be as little as a month, vast warehouses might be 20 years)
- How long might I stay there (ie how fast are you growing)
- Will I want to put all the parts of the business in one place or do I want to separate production from sales? ie shop frontage is expensive but warehouses are cheap
If you need a bit of help weighing up the pros & cons here are a few additional thoughts…
- wherever you are it needs to be a place that looks professional to your clients (whatever that means for your sector)
- the space you choose to show clients does say things about the scale of your operations, your professionalism etc so do gie it some thought
- that said very few people are only based in one place these days so meetings in smart hotel lobbies, members clubs, cultural institutions etc are perfectly professional … just make sure you know that the place will be quiet enough (and private enough) for the work you need to do
- if you don’t have space now or if you reckon you’ll be expanding into more/more expensive space soon then plan the additional costs into your budgets & pricing ASAP … if you’re making more profit for a while then great and lets face it no move comes without cost so it will no doubt be fed back into the business to cover move & fit out
Pros of having an office/studio etc:
- it’s your space and you can decorate it to reflect your business
- it’s a place for a team to work and does operate differently to getting a bunch of freelancers together intermittently
- it makes for a steady working environment and this often improves productivity of you and your team
- your clients will learn all sorts of unexpected things about you when they visit and this can lead to new business and/or a change in their perceptions of what you do
- it gives you one place to store previous work, files, all your computers, back ups etc … making it easier to access than if you have to pack it all away out of reach
- it’s a committed expense
- you may be committing yourself for a period longer than your pipeline of new work which may feel uncomfortable (you’ll feel more comfortable if you have a proper budget and sales plan to bring in new work!)
- the minimum amount of space you can lease may be bigger than your requirements initially (actually it’s often true that you move into places that are bigger than you need because you’re planning on expanding the business and need not to move more than every 3-5 years)
- there may be a bunch of costs you’ve not thought of until they happen to you (rates as well as rent, business versions of phones, gas etc which are sometimes more expensive than the domestic versions, more insurance) … if you’d like a run down of what these are drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll tell you what we know
So, in summary … if you’re growing a business you need to think about the space that you need not just now but in the coming 12-24 months. If that business needs more people you definitely need to think about this not just because they need a desk or studio to work at/in but because you want to think about the working environment you create for the business. There are plenty of solutions that don’t require you to take on leases. In London MyCake is a fan of The Hub and BASH Studios not least ‘cos we like the people … important to like the people who are around you we reckon.
If you are essentially a one person business and your growth will come through working with other associates then you may not need a permanent office/studio space but you might want to consider how & where the team meets and where you meet clients (ie which members clubs you need to join). When MyCake’s in town we use the Institute of Directors quite a bit because although it’s a fairly dry business space and not as cool as plenty of members clubs it has premises all over the UK, good additional services to members and you can hire meeting rooms as and when needed. MyCake also uses the ICA bar, RORC, Royal Festival Hall and the bar & restaurants of places like the Great Eastern Hotel (top tip – the Knights Bar at Simpsons on the Strand is almost always quiet).