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Giving yourself room to grow: Deciding where to build a business

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The cost of running an office is one of the most prohibitive to launching a business, but these days remote working and shared office spaces offer nifty solutions.

Renting office space is one of the biggest expenses anyone building a business will face, and it’s why so many startups begin life at the founder’s kitchen table or spare room.

However, no aspiring startup plans to work from home forever – eventually, businesses simply outgrow it.

So, what are the commercial property options over a company’s lifecycle?

Build a business by launching from home

It’s impossible to know when you decide to build a business how big it will eventually become, and office space is not high up the agenda for many entrepreneurs.

If a business consists of one or two founding members, they may choose to simply work from a home office. As the business grows and more staff are hired, they may also choose to work remotely from their home offices.

Remote working can be an excellent way of saving money, as it reduces the cost of commuting and leasing a commercial property. However, it can become unfeasible to continue in this way.

Ten or so people working from home can stay in touch via email, phone, conference calls etc. But what happens when that becomes 30, 40, 50 employees? Large, disconnected numbers of people working on shared projects can lead to information slipping through the cracks, and a very disjointed way of working.

Eventually, you may need to consider shared work spaces for your employees, so that the can build a community and connect with each other. It’s important for them to be able to work as a cohesive team.

If this is the case you have two options – shared working spaces, or taking on your own office space. Both options will raise business costs, but there are some key things to consider.

Build a business in a private or shared office space

Leasing private own office space has some advantages – it means a team has its own space and the company’s culture can flourish. It’s important not to downplay the value of this – businesses can have more control, and more privacy than in a shared working space.

The downside of leasing private office space is that you’re essentially setting a limit on how fast you can grow – if your office only has the capacity for 50 employees, you can’t grow more than this until your lease ends and you look for some larger premises.

Alternatively, co-working spaces are becoming increasingly popular, especially in main cities where rent is at a premium.

Co-working spaces offer several advantages for the ambitious entrepreneur – they often offer networking events to encourage startups to speak to like-minded people, and although there is not as much privacy many will offer meeting rooms to facilitate this.

The main reason to consider a co-working space however is the flexibility – you can take up more or less space as required. This can be great for businesses that aren’t sure how fast they will grow.

There’s nothing to say a business can’t continue to grow in this way, and launch in several cities with shared working spaces. It is worth bearing in mind however that for some people, private office spaces still carry a certain professionalism – it can be a good way of projecting a stable brand image to have a firmly rooted home. For example, if a business works with confidential data or finance. a permanent, private home may put a client’s mind at rest.

Ultimately, it comes down to a business’ priorities – if growth is on the horizon, flexibility can be a huge benefit. However, if a business wants to project a trustworthy, professional image, a stable home may work best. Wherever you decide to set up shop, the best advice is to plan ahead – give yourself space to grow.

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.

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