We often use the word “entrepreneur” to name a single group of driven, independent, self-disciplined people, who are looking to make their own place in the business world. But the truth is, entrepreneurs are not so easily categorized. They come in as many different flavors as Ben and Jerry's. I constantly remind myself that not every entrepreneur wants or is suitable for the same type of office space.
Take Jake for example. He is a theatre producer in New York and needed a low cost space, with a short lease that would help him manage the cyclical nature of New York theatre. He didn't want to get stuck with a pricey office if his shows started losing money and he needed to downsize, but he also knew that if he was producing several shows at once, the number of his staff could increase substantially. He needed flexibility…but he also needed something else.
Jake was a creative guy in a creative business. His shows were cutting edge and so he needed to be seen that way, too. He was young, wore his hair long, biked to work and preferred t-shirts and designer jeans to suits. Jake hated the executive suites. “…too stuffy, too investment banker…” he said to me,“ we aren't cubicle people on Madison Avenue.” This is where Shared Office Space comes in.
Sharing space is an excellent alternative for people who are looking for more off-beat locations or a more casual aesthetic. Shared Office Space is nothing more than subleasing a part of someone else's office - A very simple concept. And there are even more shared spaces than executive suites available throughout the United States. While there are some 3000 individual executive suite locations throughout the U.S, there are hundreds of thousands of shared office space opportunities.
Many companies are looking to rent their excess space to budding entrepreneurs. Maybe they downsized, or maybe they rented extra space for future growth and don't need it yet. For whatever reason, they need tenants and are willing to share their resources. This is great news for entrepreneurs like Jake.
What you get with Shared Office Space is the opportunity to create the office that bests fits you, your style and your business. It will allow you to create the office culture that speaks accurately about who you are and what you believe in. Want to give your employees a break with a little fooze ball over lunch? Shared Space. Want to bring your Chihuahua to work? Shared Space. Maybe you want to open an animation studio in an old restored canning factory? You get the idea - You can choose the perfect environment to grow your business. You have an infinite supply of choices in front of you.
Sharing space also allows you to network and share resources - an added bonus. Many companies are excited to rent to a complementary business. Jake, for instance, moved his theatre producing business into a shared space with a rock promoter and an entertainment lawyer. Not only did they have the same desire to create a casual business environment in their funky downtown loft, but Jake hired the entertainment lawyer and is producing a show at Carnegie Hall next year with the rock promoter. The arrangement has worked gangbusters for all of them.
Not every example of space sharing will end the way it did for Jake, in pure bliss. But most can do well, if you keep in mind that Shared Office Spaces are not managed by professionals. Where executive suites are run by a company solely devoted to meeting your small office needs, Shared Spaces are run by the people who inhabit them - accountants, artists, designers, just like you. They are regular folks and as such, they may or may not be great landlords. The copier might always be on the fritz and the receptionist might smack her gum too loudly. You also might be dealing with an office mate who plays Metallica at full blast or likes to give himself a pedicure in the middle of the afternoon. This is all part of the unpredictability of moving in with strangers, but if you are up for the ride, you could find a match made in office heaven!
In the next column, I am going to give you some things to look for to help you find the perfect Shared Office Space opportunity for your business. So stay tuned.
Jeff Landers is a serial entrepreneur who has worked in commercial real estate since 1974. His company, Offices2share.com, helps small businesses nationwide make the leap from home office to “real” office with simple and cost-efficient alternatives. His advice has helped thousands of small businesses reach the next level of their development. You can reach him at Landers@offices2share.com.
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