Glitter Guide contributor and business owner, Erin Sousa, shares the personal story behind finding the right office for her. Plus, get tips to help you along your own professional path!
I started my marketing and public relations company, Sparkle Media, almost four years ago, and I just got an office space. Yes, you read that right. I know that may seem strange in the world of the Instagram/Pinterest office, but I wanted to be smart about overhead, and a monthly office rent or lease is a major commitment! Are you ready for an office space? What should you consider before you take the plunge and what are the pitfalls? Follow along for a tour of my office space, while I chat about some things to consider before you decide to rent your own!
Do you really need your own office space?
Stick with me here! I know you think you’re ready, and you’re excited to deck it all out. I worked from home for four years and I loved it. For me, it was time to have some separation between work and home life, to have a place for my “stuff,” a studio to shoot images in as needed and a change of scenery. As a solopreneur (defined as a person who started the business, owns the business and runs the business), I still work from home often, but having a space has helped me achieve more balance in my life. Is an office space something that will benefit and help grow your business? Before I signed a lease, I was clear about what my business goals were, and found a space to suit those needs. Also, don’t forget that with an office space comes the need for furnishing, décor and, of course, parking fees that can add up.
What kind of space do you need?
Depending on your business, do you need creative space for shooting with a dedicated desk space like me, or do you need some place to simply hold client meetings? Is storage a huge need for you? It can be easy to take on too much, or to get blinded by a beautiful space. Be honest with your needs and then align those needs with your search for the perfect opportunity. Asking around to your peer group or others in your business sector is a great place to start looking for a potential office space that meets your needs. Spearheading a group to take on a lease together is also a great option to get the ideal situation on lock!
Have you considered an office share or co-working space?
Office shares are becoming increasingly popular for multiple reasons. Sharing the rent of a more ideal space that’s bigger, or in a desirable area, can become a reality when you’re sharing the expenses with other businesses. My business shares a large studio in Vancouver’s trendy Gastown neighborhood with another public relations company and a videographer. My personal office space has a nice desk nook that meets my needs, and has a space for photography along with a shared meeting space. Because we are all in a creative industry, we often refer business and share ideas. Co-working spaces are usually large open concept spaces that house many desks and meeting areas. This is a great option for those looking to simply surround themselves with other entrepreneurs—networking and being around a bit of a buzz can give you a big business boost, and sometimes these spaces offer a flexible commitment as well.
Are you ready to commit?
Speaking of commitment, an office space normally means signing a lease or rental agreement for a minimum number of months or years. Dig into your accounting books (or check with your accountant! I got the go-ahead from mine before I pulled the trigger) to see if the commitment is sustainable—consider your business projections and if an office space is something you can see fitting into your long-term business plans or growth. The last thing you want to do is to break a lease that may cost you a lot of stress and credit issues down the road. Timing is everything, and just because you’re not ready now, it doesn’t mean that circumstances won’t be different in the near future.
Can you afford it?
Scaling a business can be tricky, and knowing your books is the most important part of taking on an office. I’ve seen many small businesses and start-ups spend big money on a fancy space and décor to only either fold due to funding issues or have to scale down much too soon because the monetary commitment stunted their growth. I like to stay on the conservative side with this spend because it is pure overhead, and while it is a write off, it will probably be your largest monthly business expense (outside of any staff). With this in mind, start smaller and evaluate your needs once you’ve tested the waters. This is never a perfect formula—sometimes you need an office space to scale a business (where will your new employees or expanded product lines hang out?), and you have to take a leap of faith. Just get your books in order before you do!