The stories of many successful businesses begin somewhere small. No matter how big the vision, the space you start out with is likely to be smaller. Perhaps in a garage like the founders of Google, a dorm room like the founders of Facebook, or simply in your home office.
Often at the start it's just you (or you and a co-founder), working, collaborating and creating the foundations of your vision before you take it further. With it all going to plan, soon enough you will need an office to give you the space you need to grow and develop your company.
An office gives you greater resources, helps strengthen your image and provides opportunities to network with likeminded people – especially in co-working spaces. But what exactly should startups look for in office space? What do they need, and what is simply a 'nice to have'? We hope the following may provide you with valuable insight:
At the beginning of a start-up journey, being part of a business community can make the huge step you've just taken not seem as daunting.
Office space in a shared environment such as a co-working space is a very good option for many start-ups. When you're surrounded by other passionate and likeminded individuals, you never know who you can meet and gain inspiration from. Your workspace should be a place to connect and collaborate with others, helping to build a name for yourself in your local community. Making connections and networking with people in your area and sector is one of the most natural and effective ways of growing your business.
Being part of a community also means that if you host an event you already have a wealth of contacts in your vicinity to reach. Additionally, you'll have a wealth of events to attend and make connections at. Getting your voice out there and having simple conversations is hugely effective - consider it free marketing through the office space grapevine! Also, if you join a co-working space they will want to help promote your events through their respective channels, creating a greater reach that stretches beyond other start-ups or SMEs in the building.
As a start-up the aim is to grow, so make sure that there are flexible terms in your contract.
One thing you can be sure of when starting up is that you don't know what the future holds - whenever you decide to take the plunge, opening your own office is always a risk. Flexible office space is designed to accommodate this. By searching for office spaces which give you the capacity to either grow or stay put, you are protecting yourself from future obstacles. When money is tight, you might need a smaller office with all the necessary resources. If you're booming and your team is rapidly growing then you need space to accommodate this and a contract which allows you to move swiftly.
You also need flexibility in décor. When you get a new office space, it's an opportunity to make a statement, create publicity and build staff morale. Branding your office is a great way to present the development of your company and to bring your vision to life. Therefore, you need to make sure that your contract allows you to have liberty to design your space how you would like.
Does your work require more than just four walls and a roof?
When looking at office space, it is important to match office space with the needs of your business as much as possible. The most basic level of this is through establishing what resources you need, and if the space provides desks and chairs. Beyond that, maybe your line of work depends on high-speed internet access, data storage, round-the-clock access or mail handling. If you're a manufacturing business, you'll need space to accomodate machinery. If you're in biotech, you might need a laboratory.
This is an equally important part of picking a co-working space - it is always worth evaluating what services are provided. If you’re planning on hosting meetings with high-value clients rather than travelling, then you need a space with a reception area. Many offices also have conference rooms which you can use for meetings with your team and clients. Make a list of everything your business needs to do every day, and then decide which of those requirements are your priorities when evaluating a space.
Location, location, location might be a cliche, but that doesn't stop it from being true.
Location is potentially the most important factor when deciding on office space. The ideal location, though, might vary greatly depending upon the industry you're operating in. For example, if you're launching an events business, you need to make sure you’re in an accessible area with great travel connections and close to external resources such as caterers. It is also a great idea to cluster with other, similar businesses. If media start-ups are all based in one area of the city, and digital start-ups in another, there might be a very good reason why. Situating yourself around likeminded individuals helps develop a voice for your start-up within your own community, you can also find resources and collaborative opportunities more readily.
What are the hidden costs and risks?
As you would when buying a house, you need to evaluate all your options to see if you’re getting the most value for your money and the most secure investment. Start by weighing up the upfront costs - non deposit offices are a great find and can really save you from unpredictable events. You also need to ensure the office space has Commercial Liability Insurance, covering your business to operate in office space. Finally, ensure that the office space has trustworthy security. Here is a great guide to what questions start-ups need to ask before renting an office space.
Here at Sussex Innovation we have a wide range of office space designed to flexibly accomodate start-ups of all sizes and situations. Our terms are highly competitive and as well as an office you become a valued member of our community of innovative businesses. If you’re interested in learning more about what we offer at our sites in Sussex and Croydon, please click here.