How do decide about co-working in a managed office

It’s a decision every small business that grows needs to make. Can I keep working from home? Or is it time to rent office space? Is there an alternative? A managed office can be the middle ground that is cost effective and helps you put on a more professional, “big end of time’ face for your clients.

I recently spent a week working at The Cluster – a serviced office in Melbourne’s CBD. I wrote a detailed review of working at The Cluster for BIT. My conclusion was

There are many sole traders and small businesses that outgrow working from home. However, they aren’t quite big enough to justify renting an office space and then fitting it out with all the extras that an operating office needs. These are the businesses that The Cluster fits perfectly.

What I didn’t really cover in that review was about how to decide if it’s right for you. When a small business starts to grow it goes through a few distinct stages. Note – these aren’t from a book but it’s what I’ve seen in 20 years of working in large and small companies.

Stage 1: The Early Days

When you start out, it’s probably just you. You work from home – if you’re lucky you can set up a great workspace – and work like that for a while. But there comes a point when you need an offsider to help out.
Initially, this might be another freelancer that you send extra work to, as part of a quid pro quo, but eventually you need a more regular offsider and the home office isn’t big enough.

Stage 2: Early Growth

Business is booming and one staff member becomes two, then three and then more. But the work isn’t regular so you actually end up with some part time or casual support.
The home office is too small and renting permanent space is too big a commitment at the moment.

Stage 3: Managed Growth

By the time you get to this stage, you have clients on retainers so the business’ income is less volatile. You need some fixed space where you can have office furniture, printers, servers and all the other bits and pieces you need.
This is when you start looking at renting and fitting out your own space.

When is a Managed Office Right?

If you’re at either Stage 1 or 2 and don’t have the space at home for a well organised workspace it’s well worth looking at managed office spaces. They’re a cheap entry into getting dedicated office space, come with helpful facilities such as reception desks, meeting rooms and tech support, and provide you with a more professional environment for meeting clients.
There’s also the benefit of putting you in close contact with lots of other entrepreneurs so you can share ideas and potentially increase your client base.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.