I saw an old friend today who helped make JM2 Webdesigners & Marketing the growing agent of change in Northwest Indiana. While up at the local coffee shop writing blogs, working on social media accounts, making new websites live, adding new features, and adding some green padlock (SSL) security to the new websites I saw was Eric of Zoseco Co-working and seeing him made me think of where our company has come from the idea stage in the fall of 2012 when the idea of starting a business was still a pipe dream. Each and every Sunday is a day of reflection on where we've come, what happened in the past week, and what we have coming in the upcoming week. It's a time to look at three ways small business can start out.
Note: I want to say that this is not endorsed, paid for, etc. by Eric or Zoseco. Articles like this is what anyone that has used co-working, taken advantage of its services, and grown because of it.
Buy or rent a building
Truly the most expensive option of the three. This option is definitely for those that have some financial backing or are ready to have people lined up their door to pay the bills. This is a great option if you need a physical storefront to get your small business moving. The key with this approach is you are instantly seen as a "true business". When you have a physical address that is in a business district people will give you, right or not, more credibility for having an established brick and mortar store.
Work out of your home
This is actually where my company, JM2 Webdesigners & Marketing, started and so I have strong feelings to get started here. There are a lot of pros (and cons) to this approach. This is the lowest cost option as you are already paying for the place that you live and allows for the business to foot some of the expense (seek your accountant's advice on this). This is also where many small businesses start as you can do this easily while working at your primary job as when you get home from work you can immediately start on your new small business.
I would only suggest this option if you have the ability to have one, or more, rooms dedicated to your business venture and are able to stay laser focused and avoid interruptions (laundry, dishes, television, etc.). You should keep no personal stuff beyond what you would keep in any standard office. You need to be focused and this is a great way of starting and developing your business plan. This is a great option if your business can be done completely online or are open to people coming into your house (if your community allows this). You can always meet at the local coffee shop (this is what we did) to meet with clients. We still go back to the Starbucks in Michigan City Indiana to work to keep in contact with our clients out there.
This was phase two of our company and there were some very solid reasons for this. The first was I was getting married and moving out of my house that had extra room for an office and the new family home needed to be dedicated to just family. We did think about keeping the house in Michigan City as our first business location but commercial businesses were not allowed and an ordinance to change it was not going to happen which meant that option was out. We couldn't afford to buy or rent a building either so that option was out. In a way we prayed for an answer and at a Chamber event there was an announcement that there was a co-working space where you could "rent a desk or space" for a little amount of money. You "shared space" with others to keep costs low. This seemed to foot our bill.
We were the second business to join and we stayed there for two years (to the day) as we said if our business model was viable we would need to be out within two years and if we couldn't do that then we probably should close up shop. Thankfully our model of saving small businesses money resonated well and we grow by one to three new clients per week. This also allowed space for others to startup, grow, and use the space. During our two years with Zoseco we went from one desktop, to a small office (80 square feet), to a large office, and then to our own building we bought.
My final thoughts
For us we had a need, commitment, and desire to do something different. We believed in our dream and that was what ignited our fire. If you need a physical brick and mortar space you are out of options to start and need to just go straight to buy/rent. For everyone else we suggest you start out at home until you start seeing your productivity drop, need space to meet clients, or your life changes that require moving to a more business environment. This would be a co-working space like Zoseco. Prove out your business, grow your business, and move on so that others can grow their dream. When you sit in your comfy chair you never want to get out of it. Push yourself beyond your limits daily and your dream will be achieved.
On a side note, stay in contact with those in the co-working space. They are all innovators and the upcoming stars. They have great ideas, typically don't follow the norms, and believe the world can be a better place (which it can).