Choosing a Serviced Office Provider (SOP)

June 21, 2010

So you’re thinking you need to move into your own office. Tired of working from home? The husband always expecting you to be at his beck and call or the kids driving you up the wall? Or perhaps you live alone and the solitude is starting to get to you? Or perhaps you just lack the discipline needed to separate work from home time?

Luckily there is a better way. A serviced office can be an easy and cost effective way of establishing a more professional working environment and presenting a more respectable image to the wider business community. The real question is how do you select the right one. There seem to be many choices these days.

Here are a few things to consider.

a. Take the time to figure out exactly what you are looking for. Don’t be told what it is you need by the service providers themselves, they will only confuse you. You know best. The physical services they offer are pretty much stock-standard these days, so look a little deeper and try to understand what it is they stand for. What are they all about? As an intelligent business creator, you should instinctively know what’s going to work for you and what isn’t. You will get a feeling about this within the first 3 seconds of walking into a place, so follow your instincts.

b. Does the serviced office have the same values as you. Do you feel that the companies within it are similar to yours. One of the greatest benefits of a coworking space or serviced office is working with other similar companies and leveraging off the flow of ideas and opportunities this generates. You need a serviced office that has the right culture, a culture that you are both comfortable within, and can contribute towards. There are even serviced office operators around these days that will qualify you to see if you meet their criteria, that’s how important the office culture can be!

c. Are you a little insecure about your companies image. Many smaller companies are quite insecure and believe they need very expensive looking swish offices to make them look more successful. This can backfire however. The Collins St. serviced office location might sound impressive to you, but you’re not fooling anyone unless the type of business you have makes sense to be on Collins St. Have you ever notice how the smaller the company the larger the company name. Maga-International companies have names like Sony and Apple. Small home-based business have names like “The Web Institute of Research and Development”. The more secure you are and the more confidence you have in yourself the more successful your business will be, so trust your instincts and select an office that will work for you, not one you think will make you look good. In doing so, you will actually look a whole lot more impressive. When you select a serviced office because it has the relaxed progressive environment that helps your business thrive, your customers will not only understand why, they will wish they were there with you. They will admire you for your brains and sound judgement and that’s much more valuable when you are a small startup or rapidly expanding business. A smart company working in the right environment, in the right location looks more impressive than the same company dressed up with a gimmicky address holding meetings in marble filled boardrooms. Make sure you don’t end up looking like a used-car-salesman, the suit might be expensive, but it doesn’t fool anyone.

d. Lastly cost should be examined. Some serviced office providers draw you in with small up-front fees then charge for each sheet of bog-roll you use. They’re making a lot of money, so where do you think that money is coming from ? Be careful about low introductory rates and special introductory promotions. Try to find a serviced office provider that gives you a package with as much as possible included in it. Look for a provider that is genuine, offers a simple packaged solution and has your interests at heart. Be willing to pay more upfront for a package deal as this will save you big bucks over the weeks and months that you are there and it allows you to predict your costs each month with confidence. Knowing how much things are going to cost you each month is very very important when you are working hand-to-mouth and every cent counts. There is nothing worse than receiving an unexpected bill from a serviced office provider full of nasty surprises.

Chris Mosely is CEO of The Cluster which provides  Virtual Office, Serviced Offices, Office Space and Coworking

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