Regardless of what service or product you’re offering, one commonality across all CEOs near and far is that they must be cognizant of costs. For a time, as they build their businesses, they can get by without certain key employees or access to expensive industry software. Opportunities to invest in these areas come with time, and success. But for what can often be many years, they’ll have to bootstrap and lead their companies with an emphasis on both growth and on keeping costs down.
However, one area that can feel like a non-negotiable for a founder is to carve out a dedicated space for the team to gather. Even in this era of remote-friendly work, nothing can replicate the collaboration and communication that takes place when a small team gathers together and hammers out some solutions on behalf of clients. The comfort and familiarity that (the right) office setting provides has long been an asset.
In the early days, the prospect of pursuing and identifying office space in their area can feel daunting and also time-consuming for a small business owner. After all, their first and last conversations every day are solely focused on building products and user experiences that will delight their customers. That’s why we’ve seen a sharp increase in interest and popularity of coworking spaces over recent years. With so much else to think about, and list of responsibilities that can mount quickly, company founders can feel strapped for time. As a result, many wind up paying a premium for these types of coworking spaces. They know that it’s a temporary solution but that it’ll also save them from signing a long-term lease. That’s a price they’re willing to pay in those early years.
The benefits and drawbacks of coworking spaces have long been documented. However, one of the additional merits of having a direct office space of your own is that it can actually save your company some money, especially if you’re coming out of a coworking space. That turnkey experience you’re used to — IT services, furniture, snacks and more — comes with additional costs in the monthly rate. If you can sketch out and lead those expenses on your own, not only will you have more control over what perks and amenities you provide for your employees, you’ll cut office costs and wind up saving money each month.
That tradeoff does come with signing a lease, something that early-stage founders might be reluctant to do for various reasons. As a company grows, this could turn into a more viable option than it might have seemed an a different stage of the business. No two companies are identical, and not all founders seek the same things. They must make the right decisions for their teams and to reassess how those decisions are going on a regular basis.
When it comes to office spaces appealing to people at this stage, there needs to be a middle-of-the-road solution. That’s why earlier this year SquareFoot, the company I founded, acquired another company called PivotDesk, where is like Airbnb for office space. Some companies, aka hosts, have extra desks in their offices they’re looking to sublease, and other companies, aka guests, are looking to drop in and to share an existing office with others. This type of relationship, which can be negotiated on a monthly or annual basis, has offered more company founders to get back to work more quickly on what they love to do – grow their businesses.
Office spaces are important to get right at each and every stage of a company’s growth. But the selection of one shouldn’t be a distraction or inconvenient consideration. You don’t need to spend crazy amounts on coworking, or to commit yourself to a long-term lease you don’t necessarily want to take on. As with most decisions that small business owners make, the emphasis should be less on what’s the most inexpensive option available and more a discussion of where the best value lies at that particular juncture to enable the organization to thrive.