You finally have the revenue to move from your basement or home office to a more formal workspace. You’ve hired your first employees, and now need a conference room to meet with clients and have face-to-face meetings with staff. You have had your heart set on traditional dedicated office space, but now you are not so sure leasing is the right move. Even though your start-up is experiencing success, the business is still in its infancy, and this decision could impact your company finances for the long-term. So, it’s decision time: dedicated office space or a shared coworking space? Which is better for your start-up? Read on for some determining factors to decide which works for you and your company.
This entry is an obvious one, so let’s get it out of the way now. Depending on the location, rental costs for traditional office space can rise to astronomical amounts. In Atlanta, the average monthly rent for a square foot of office space in Atlanta is $1.74. This means that if you are renting a space that is at least 1,000 square feet you should be prepared to pay at least $1,740. This price also depends on location, as prime areas will naturally cost more. On the other spectrum, many co-working stations offer spaces for rent as low as $45 a month that includes a desk, conference room access, and internet. Even grabbing a full office area for co-workers is still more of a bargain at approximately $300 to $450 a month.
This is so extensive that it deserves its own entry. In 2006, Skye Jaundoo had raised enough money to transition from a home office to a dedicated office in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a 300-square foot space for $600 a month. Not only was the space too small to accommodate the employees Jaundoo had hired, but she had not accounted for the hidden costs. Desk, chairs, filing cabinets, a refrigerator, and even internet were not automatically included. These one-time and reoccurring costs were in addition to the rent. A coworking space will likely include all these amenities in their rental fees. Granted, you are sharing these items with others, but owners do not have to purchase them with their own money.
Reputation and Branding
Even though innovation has come to how people work, there are still many customers who feel a sense of security when they see a business with a physical office. They know that if something were to go wrong with a product or service, there is an address to refer to. This is something start-ups that go the coworking space route will have to deal with. This preference will likely depend on the industry of the start-up. Someone who offers digital services will probably not need a physical office, while a business that sells a product would have more of a need for a dedicated space. Also, there may be some clients who are uncomfortable meeting in a place as public as a coworking space.
What are your plans for start-up growth? Are you expecting to hire more employees in the next one to three years? Will you need more space for equipment or staff? If you purchased a traditional office space, you would either need to renovate —and hope you have space and money for it— or buy a larger facility that is likely more expensive. Coworking spaces do offer flexibility in that you could increase your monthly rent and buy a larger area in the space.
Shared workspaces offer numerous opportunities for networking. You may find your next freelance writer, digital marketing consultant, or administrative assistant at a coworking space. You can find out what other people in the city are working on, and be the first to know about local start-up trends that could help you move forward in your business. A dedicated office space takes away that opportunity, and as a growing start-up, it is more than beneficial to have as many avenues to network as possible.
It would make sense for you to locate in a centralized location that is close to your clients, and not too far for employees to commute. Accomplishing this with a traditional office is difficult as rents are high in urban areas, and competition for these spaces is fierce. Many coworking locations can be found in various parts of the city —urban and suburban— and start-up owners can benefit from being able to locate in these areas.
Again, selecting the best place to house your business is one of the most important decisions you can make in the infancy of a start-up. Therefore, it takes a careful examination of long-term goals, available capital, staffing needs, and a real understanding of the pros and cons of both options. This will help you to make the best decision about which choice to move forward with.