Anyone who has founded or worked for a startup will tell you it’s a learning curve. Sure, the money-maker is your first concern, but shaping the internal infrastructure can be just as challenging as building your product or service. So many different components come together to make an effective company. Your team, your communication systems, your technology, and your overall culture can make or break you. There’s an even more basic component that can have surprising effects on a startup in the early stages: the office itself.
According to this article from Entrepreneur.com, 50% of all US startups fail within five years. There are myriad ways to fail, and the big ones almost all come down to leadership and general business acumen. In the face of that, where and how you rent office space might seem like a petty detail. However, it’s a common pain point for many startups. Coworking spaces provide a great solution to help you avoid making these common mistakes. With such a tough uphill battle to startup success, even seemingly inconsequential choices can carry weight.
Below are three common mistakes that many new businesses make when searching for office rentals, and how coworking spaces can help you steer clear.
Mistake #1: Locking up your cash in a lease or mortgage
Traditional office rentals often require leases of a year or more, with no recourse if your situation changes. You’ll face fees or even legal action for trying to break a lease early. Mortgages, of course, are even more of a ball and chain. Early stage startups need flexibility in spades.
One of the most interesting things about startup life is that you often cannot tell what’s around the next curve. You can do all your market research and create an impeccable product, and it’s still a leap of faith. Your needs can change in unexpected ways: maybe you need more or fewer team members than you originally planned for. You might find yourself traveling more, no longer in the office from 9-5.
Coworking spaces offer an agile alternative to the traditional ball-and-chain lease. In general, dedicated desk and hot desk memberships will operate on a month to month basis. You can painlessly add or retract memberships as your team grows and changes. You won’t find yourself cramped in a too-small office, or, alternatively, paying for more space than you need. Even private-office coworking tends to be more flexible than traditional office rentals.
Mistake #2: Choosing the wrong location
Location matters. Again, with an old-school office rental you might find yourself in a conundrum. Pay way more per square foot for a popular neighborhood, which may not even include any parking space (looking at you, Uptown Charlotte). Or stick to a budget and set up shop in a sleepy or inconvenient area.
When choosing the location of your office space, there are multiple factors to consider. An ideal location provides for your particular needs as a business: close to your clients, as easy as possible for your employees (some commutes are unavoidable) and, most importantly, close to good food. Kidding- kind of. In terms of employee happiness, it definitely won’t hurt to have some great lunch spots and local coffee shops. Amenities such as grocery stores, gyms, banks and laundromats add extra convenience for your employees.
Joining a Charlotte coworking space in lieu of a traditional office rental makes finding a great location much easier. Space owners usually aim for locations with market-boosting qualities: popular, growing neighborhoods, hip eateries and access to major roads and highways. The difference is that with a coworking membership, you aren’t paying per square foot. You’ll pay a flat rate each month that is more dependent on the offerings of the space itself, rather than on the real estate market.
Mistake #3: Skimping on design
Furnishing an office rental as a bootstrapped startup puts you between a rock and a hard place. Do you shell out what little cash you have to make it a comfortable, productive, on-brand environment? Or do you scrimp on design and work out of a barebones, amenity-less office?
Your office design is a commentary on how you see yourself as a company, and what you want to present to clients. On a practical level, creating a comfortable environment with thoughtful amenities will enhance your employees’ productivity. Coworking spaces are explicitly designed to provide these benefits to members. Most coworking spaces feature multiple work areas for optimal comfort and productivity- your team can choose where they work based on the task at hand. Meeting rooms outfitted with whiteboards and Smart TVs mean you’ll be presentation-ready when a big investor comes calling. Working out of a sleek, professional space says you take yourselves seriously as a company, and others will too.