Are you conducting customer meetings in your living room or the local coffee shop? Does your car serve as your home office? Some startup businesses may thrive within an informal atmosphere, but the general rule is a professional image can go a long way toward attracting more clients.
If you can’t afford to buy or rent professional office space and hire the support staff that you need, then maybe a co-working facility (also known as a shared workspace) would be a good fit while your young company matures.
How Co-Working Facilities Work
You may already be familiar with some of the major names in the business, which offer a variety of location types across the U.S. and around the world. Just search for co-working facilities on the Internet, and you’ll find a selection.
Regardless of your needs, these places offer flexible plans. As a general rule, you can generally find a place that offers services such as the following:
- Full office accommodations: Most facilities offer office space, complete with IT capabilities to network your computers together, phones and, of course, secure Internet access. On-site administrative staff is available to answer and screen phone calls, sort the mail and handle other tasks. Since the facilities provide everything from just an impressive address to full amenities, some small businesses move in on a full-time basis to provide professional surroundings until they can afford to buy or rent permanent space.
- Professional surroundings on the fly: Small business owners often travel a great deal to meet with customers and prospects. When you can’t meet at the client site, a rented space provides a business-like atmosphere, along with administrative support.
- Meeting space: When you need to meet with more people than will fit comfortably in your present facility, most co-working facilities offer comfortable formal and informal meeting facilities, complete with tables, seating, WiFi, projectors and necessary staffing. Coffee, tea or maybe even light snacks are often available, as well.
- Luxurious amenities: Don’t be surprised if a cafeteria, coffee bar or even health club is right in the building. Of course, amenities vary; bicycle storage, solariums for informal conversations and even childcare facilities might be available.
Of course, you won’t look very professional if you reside full-time in a facility without appearing like you belong there. The good news is that companies typically permit signage for your company. This includes a listing on the board in the lobby, as well.
Networking Opportunities Abound
Keep in mind that you’re not alone in a co-working facility. While you certainly can maintain all the privacy that you want, you have many opportunities to get out and become familiar with resources that can help your business in many ways.
Take a walk through the hallways, and you might find other businesses that are compatible with yours. While it might be bad form to start cold-calling your neighbors to find new customers, those neighbors would certainly welcome your business. So whether you need anything from copying services to a new business attorney or accountant, you may never have to leave the building to establish valuable new relationships.
Building common areas also offer great networking opportunities. Strike up a casual conversation in the cafeteria line or while taking a relaxation break in the beautiful atrium. That conversation may morph into suggestions that help you troubleshoot a business concern or provide the seeds for a future partnership.
Finally, if you’re not comfortable with casual networking some co-working companies hold networking events to help you meet your neighbors while munching on free refreshments. Party!
A Co-Operative Spirit is the Norm
Co-working facilities are typically much more than rental units or shared office space. Studies have shown that members typically thrive in these environments and often see themselves as part of a community, complete with its Manifesto, which discourages competition between members while encouraging collaboration, friendship, participation and friendship.
If you run a small business, you may work alone or as part of a very small team. No matter how creative you are, you probably feel as if you are working in a vacuum, at least part of the time. Co-working facilities can offer many opportunities to broaden your horizons. Whether you just need to see a friendly face, or if you need a different perspective, you’ll probably find a willing neighbor to help.
Look Like the Business That You Aspire To Be
Co-working facilities are certainly not all-or-nothing propositions. You may be seeking a longer-term commitment, but you might just need virtual office, which provides a professional mailing address combined with occasional office space for a day, week or month while you travel.
Another option is to stay where you are, and use a Virtual Mailbox service to maintain a more professional address. There are a number of good options, such as Traveling Mailbox and Earth Class Mail, where a click on this link and the CHOOSEWHAT password gets you a one-month free trial.
No matter what services you choose, you can receive the type of professional image that you need to thrive. Since you only pay for the services that you need, you don’t have to break the bank to look like the business that you’ll become in the very near future.