Over the past year and a half, I’ve been experimenting with different types of office space.
I run a solo, online business. My office needs aren’t much.
Still, I think it matters where you work. Don’t you?
I’ve worked in my home (the bedroom, the loft, the kitchen table), the local coffee houses, my local library, and even at a friend’s place while he was gone for a few weeks.
I still haven’t found the right fit for me yet. Here are a few options for the upstart business person:
Our friends at Optimal Startup Daily recently shared this article on their excellent podcast. If you’d rather listen to this article, here you go:
1. Home Office
Many homes come equipped with a study or spare room. Turn the room into an office and start working from home. Find a desk and nice chair that will be comfortable for long periods and get to work.
Of course, if your business requires that you meet with customers, this may not be a perfect solution. Our home has a loft area that I have been using as a home office lately. But our house has become less work friendly with the two little ones taking over.
When we purchase our next home, we’ll be sure to include a place with an office space that I can close off from the rest of the house. But for now, I’m looking for different space.
2. Free Hotspot Office Space
Do a search for “free wifi, your city” and you’ll be given a ton of options to camp out for a few hours a day to get some work done. My local library is my best option in this category (I’m actually writing this post from the library).
Nice, quiet environment, and no pressure to buy a coffee. The only downside to this place is that I can’t take phone calls or set up my big monitor (which makes me twice as productive).
Cost: ~ a cup of coffee a day.
3. Virtual Office Space
If you have a home office, but you just need a place to make you look “official”, then consider a virtual office. For as little as $25 a month, you are given a physical address, fax number (does anyone still need that?), answering service, and rights to rent a conference/office space for a daily rate.
This is a good option for those who only need to meet with a client a few times a month. Not a good option for me, though.
Cost: $25-$100 a month.
4. Co-Working Office Space
With so many people working from home these days, either with their own business or because they are telecommuting with their employer, the demand for shared working space has risen.
Sensing this trend, some smart investors are setting up “coworking” spaces, where people can rent a cube/desk/room per day, multiple days, or per month.
Being a member also gives you rights to the kitchen, copier room, mail room, etc. This is where I would really like to work. It would give me the personal space I need without the expensive rent. Plus, I’d get to be around other like-minded entrepreneurs on a daily basis.
But there are no co-working spaces close to where I live. 🙁 The downside of this type of space is of course that you are paying rent but don’t get to completely control the space.
Cost: $50-$500 a month depending on your level of membership.
5. Leased Office Space
I’m on the verge of leasing some office space. I feel like it’s come to that point for me and my business. I just need a stable place that I can count on. A place to setup my monitor and printer. A place where I could make phone calls, record a podcast, etc.
As I started looking around for places, I’ve come to realize that there aren’t many good options (in my area at least) for the solo-practitioner who doesn’t have the need for something client-facing. I’ve tried loopnet.com, and I’m also working with a local Realtor. We’ll see how it goes.
Cost: $10 – $100 a square foot per year. Rents in my area for a < 300 sq ft place are around $500/mo.
6. Free (or Bartered) Office Space
I’m a frugal guy. I’m going to tell you to look for the deal when you can. So here goes. Who says you need to pay for your office space? Get it for free, or barter services.
My friend Joshua Becker recently shared with me how he simply put a call out on Facebook for anyone locally who might have a spare office space. Turns out, one of his friends that worked for a law firm was sitting on several empty offices for the next six months. Joshua is going to use one to write his next book.
You should do the same. Ask your network for free space, even if temporary. Alternatively, you could offer up your regular monthly services in exchange for the space.
Cost: $0 or equal exchange of value.
7. Purchased Office Space
This is another option I’ve considering. Why pay rent when I could be paying a mortgage and owning the property? What’s stopping me from buying my own piece of commercial property and renting a portion of the space to cover the mortgage?
The right property is really all that’s stopping me I guess. Along with a complete lack of knowledge of the commercial leasing business. Ha!
Costs: the cost of the piece of property, less any rental income, plus the time to learn about this business.
If you’re an upstart entrepreneur, at what point would you (or did you) make the leap to having your own leased or owned space? If you prefer to work from home, why?