When launching a new business, one of the many questions entrepreneurs ask is where they will house their operations. For some, their home or garage is a convenient, affordable place to start -- just ask tech giants like Microsoft, Apple and Google -- but when it comes time to finding a more permanent and professional home for their company, many small business owners are overwhelmed by the number of options available to them.
Starting a business at home, whether it's in the garage, basement or home office, is often a short-term solution to a long-term need. As a company brings on clients and employees, it's important for them to have a long-term real estate plan in place that allows them to scale operations and relocate quickly and efficiently should they ever outgrow their space.
One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by working with a real estate company that offers a full spectrum of services capable of taking a business from a home office to a standalone space. These include:
- Virtual offices that supply home-based entrepreneurs with a professional mailing address and business line, complete with a live receptionist who can answer calls while they're in a meeting or away from the office
- Shared offices, which take the virtual concept a step further by also giving entrepreneurs their own office or workstation in a center that houses multiple businesses under one roof
- Brokerage services that can help business owners transition from a home or shared office as their company grows
While a business may not end up using all of these services -- for example, a startup could go directly from a home office to a traditional lease, or decide they never want to leave the shared office environment -- having this service platform in place helps them prepare for the sometimes-unpredictable growth of a new business.
Three specific benefits of creating a long-term real estate plan are:
- No inconvenience to customers: Businesses that take advantage of virtual and shared office services are able to keep the same phone number and mailing address throughout all stages of growth, eliminating headaches for both the company and its clients. This allows businesses to maintain a constant line of communication with clients, regardless of how many times they move. Companies that are regularly changing their contact information risk losing clients who may take their business elsewhere if they get a 'this number is no longer in service' message.
- Saved time: With a seemingly endless to-do list, most entrepreneurs would agree that there simply aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything they would like to get done. Yet mapping out different growth scenarios in the beginning can end up saving business owners time when it matters most. By working with a real estate company that specializes in office solutions for smaller users, entrepreneurs can more easily formulate a real estate plan that generates better results for their business.
- Saved money: If rapid growth forces a company to pump the brakes while they figure out their next move, it can slow momentum, cutting into company revenue. Similarly, a hasty real estate search can result in businesses leasing too much space, overpaying for space, or both. Bottom line: It's much easier to avoid the situation entirely than try to correct it later.
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Frank Chalupa is president and co-founder of Amata Office Solutions, a Chicago-based real estate provider specializing in office solutions for companies requiring up to 10,000 square feet of office space.