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Developing your Business: Expanding into Regional Offices

Sneak preview of the image from my new bookWelcome to another expert post in my series on growing your business. Today we’re going to take a look at why it makes sense to have a physical presence around the country (or beyond), written for us by Juliet Martin, representing Regus. Linked to this post, you can read about small business owners’ own experience moving out of the home office here, and Sam Barnes’ post about what to consider when planning to move outside the home here. Juliet’s going to share with us the value of renting offices in different places.

Advantages of Renting Corporate Settings around the Country

Today’s ever-growing business world is taking with it the ability for any one enterprise to be localised in a particular place. This means you should at least consider setting up new branches or virtual offices in multiple locations across the nation. Even though you will have to then manage a number of settings, you will gain plenty of benefits in the long run. Adapting to these modern, global times will provide you with the following five corporate advantages.

A commercial building

It pays to have more than one branch for your business Image

1. Access to Local Resources

If you produce any kind of goods, you may find that the various materials and components required are sourced from multiple areas around the country. For example, you may find the following are located in different regions:

• Mines
• Factories
• Ports
• Plantations
• Refineries

By opening up small branches near each of these facilities, you will then give your company greater access to a range of materials and services directly from the source. This means you won’t have to rely on a third party to bring these essentials to you.

2. Lowering Your Monthly Rent

Believe it or not, it may actually be more cost-effective to run a number of bare-bones offices around the country than a fully functional corporate setting in a single location. After you have negotiated to reduce the rent of your many branches, you can then look forward to even more savings thanks to the smaller and more compact premises that your company is now working from. If you can simplify how your work settings are planned out, eliminating excess features and only renting what is necessary, you can streamline your outgoing cash flow and still benefit from a number of corporate environments located around the country.

3. Honing Your Corporate Marketing

One difficulty that any localised business has is that its target audience is fairly limited, being restricted to a single geographical area. You can get around this by working from several different locations across the country. In general, people will wish to work with a business that has a presence in their neighbourhood because:

• It provides a local face to the company
• Contacting the enterprise is much easier
• Delivery times won’t be needlessly long
• Employees will be much more relatable

By branching out across the nation, you can tap into a wider consumer base than ever before, enabling you to find additional customers and boosting your sales to help cover the rental costs of your various corporate locations.

4. Added Convenience for Clients

Another advantage to the consumer is that it is far easier for them to come and visit your workplace if you are found scattered across the country. To cater to all your client’s needs, rent some office space at business centres around the nation. This will give them additional convenience as they can deal with your company in a number of ways thanks to your now local business setting. For example, they should be able to:

• Visit your office without driving for hours
• Post parcels and letters to you cheaply
• Phone without expensive long distance rates

There are times when your clients want some personal attention. In these cases, email won’t suffice. Video conferencing can be difficult to set up properly too. A better solution is just to have a local branch available so they can arrange for an appointment with you or a company representative without having to go through a lot of hassle to get there.

5. Broadening the Talent Pool

Lastly, by making the effort to rent corporate premises around the country, you will then have access to a greater range of skilled workers for your business. The truth is that having the right resources is crucial to helping you identify new talent. In this case, the resources in question are your local offices which can then tap into the growing number of potential candidates found in those local regions. People may not want to relocate to another city to work with your company so having multiple branches will give them a reason to sign on with you even though your main office is found halfway across the nation! In this way, you can increase the sheer talent within your organisation and grow your products and services accordingly.

As a brief recap, we can see that renting workplaces across the country can indeed provide many benefits to any enterprise. These advantages include the following:

1. Ease of access to national resources
2. More cost-effective rental payments
3. Effective locally targeted advertising
4. Increased consumer convenience
5. Wider talent pool for new employees

We would recommend that you get out there and expand your business operations as soon as possible to reap all of the above rewards. By occupying some of the best corporate spaces around the country, your company can grow and your customers will get even better service as a result! To make the process easier, get in touch with a provider such as Regus for assistance on renting suitable spaces at cities or regions you have interests in.

Author Bio: Juliet Martin is from Regus, a global office space solutions provider. Founded in 1989, Regus is a global organisation that aims to provide only the best office spaces and meeting venues to all kinds of businesses.

This post is part of my series on growing your business. Read more here and read about my own business journey in my books.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Business, Guest posts, Organisation

 

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Developing your Business: Moving Into Office Space – How, When and Why?

Sneak preview of the image from my new bookAs part of my series on growing your business., we’re taking a look today at the expert’s view on moving into office space. You can read about other people’s personal experience of moving out of the home office here, and today I’m delighted to welcome Sam Barnes from Easy Offices, who is going to run through things to think about when upgrading from your home office from an expert’s perspective.

Many people choose to start their businesses from home. It’s cheap, convenient and comfortable. For some businesses, that’s all that’s required and they never feel the need to break out of the home office. For the majority of businesses though, office space becomes an essential as revenues grow. We’ve helped all manner of businesses find office space, from single person start-ups to massive corporations. However, there’s no doubt that with the advice you’re about to read, the process of selecting and moving into your brand new office, will be made substantially easier.

Why does my business need office space?

Your office space is the centre of your business.

Without offices, you’re running the risk of not being taken seriously by other businesses or consumers. Imagine if the next time you wanted to go the bank you ended up at a home, not an office. Commercial premises are a necessity of business.

The practical side of getting your own office space is extremely important too. You’ll have your own phone systems, postal address and meeting space. All of these things will be vital as you grow your business, providing the infrastructure that will drive you forward.

When should my small business move into offices?

This is a slightly more difficult question to answer. There are lots of reasons that you might need to look into choosing office space:

•    You’re outgrowing your existing office space.
•    You’re taking on more staff.
•    You need a meeting room for clients.
•    There are too many distractions at home.
•    You’re unsatisfied with your current office space.
•    You need better facilities, i.e. better internet, private rooms, reception area etc.

There could be hundreds more reasons on this list, but the vast majority of office moves are instigated by a lack of physical space, specifically when taking on more staff.

If you find yourself thinking, on more than one occasion a day, that a bigger office would make your work more effective or allow your business to grow more easily, then I would say it’s time to take the plunge!

As your revenue grows, you’ll find that justifying the cost of an office becomes easier and easier. Having the cash to be able to fund an office move is an absolute necessity.

How do I go about choosing office space?

There are three main kinds of office space available to small businesses in the current market:

1.    Co-Working Office Space

Co-working spaces can be a great fit for some businesses. They’re the cheapest of the three main options available. Essentially you’ll rent a couple of desks in a room or part of a larger office. This gives you the ability to separate your work and home lives while keeping costs low while your businesses is in the early stage of development.

You’ll never know who you might be sharing with and you can make some amazing new businesses contacts while sharing office space. We’ve heard lots of fantastic success stories about relationships formed in shared environments. Equally you’ll want to know before you choose a certain office, what kinds of businesses you’ll be working alongside. If you need a really quiet environment, make sure those around you feel the same.

You’ll also have access to shared mail, printing and catering facilities.

If you’ve only got a couple of staff and you work as one well-oiled machine, a co-working space would be ideal.

2.    Serviced Office Space

Serviced office space is more expensive than co-working office space, but not quite as expensive as a full-blown office lease.

It’s the perfect choice for companies with a few staff who need room to grow. You’ll have a dedicated space for your business (no co-working here). You’ll have all the kitchen, printing and mail facilities that I mentioned before, plus some added features. These normally include security, some kind of reception area, cleaning services and usually the ability to rent extra infrastructure such as improved internet connections.

You’ll get to put your own stamp on things too! The simple branding of your office through posters, mugs and pens can turn the feeling in your office from start-up to established business.

A fantastic choice for businesses growing quickly who know they’re going to need space to meet clients and further expand their operations.

3.    Office Lease

The only option for larger businesses, an office lease lets you rent an entire office. This is necessary when your business has outgrown your existing solutions or needs to centralise.
As this post relates to small businesses, I won’t go into too much detail here. What I will say is that you’ll need to be making substantial revenues before choosing a fully leased office. The costs involved are substantially higher than serviced or shared offices.

Some Top Tips for Choosing Office Space

Here are a few questions that you’ll need to ask yourself before making your choice to move offices:

•    Price – Can you afford it?
•    Space – Does the office you’re looking at give you enough room for meeting clients and working as a team?
•    Infrastructure – Do you need a dedicated phone line and Internet? Does the office you’re interested in office this as a service or do you have to organise it yourself?
•    Facilities – Can you and your staff park here if they drive? Are the kitchens clean?

They might sound like simple, fairly obvious questions, but if you fail to take one of these things into account you’ll be paying for it for months to come.

The best advice I can give you when attempting to choose an office space, is do your research.

Start out with a list of criteria that you need from your office. If any one of the office spaces you go to look at doesn’t meet even one of them, keep looking. There’s a space out there for everyone!

sam barnesSam Barnes is from Easy Offices.

The company works tirelessly to help businesses of all shapes and sizes find the perfect office space for their needs. He is interested in everything small business related with a particular interest in marketing. He works in the digital marketing sphere.

Outside work, he’s an avid football fan, with Arsenal being his lifelong obsession. He also has a passion for music and film. He’s currently rattling through the IMDB top 100 as a personal challenge.

You can also find Easy Offices on Twitter.

This post is part of my series on growing your business. Read more here and read about my own business journey in my books.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Business, Guest posts, Organisation

 

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(Co)Working our way around town Part 3 – Costa Coffee, Kings Heath

Welcome to our third cafe-with-wifi review – hopefully building up into a little guide for other people who work from home as to where they can go to get out of the house but work in comfort.

I was talking about this with Laura the other day, and we reckon there’s a graph or Venn diagram to be produced with our requirements, which are: plenty of plug sockets; comfortable and utilitarian seating; decent food at a decent price (Laura) / skimmed milk (me); decent, non-flaky wifi.  Not a huge list – but we haven’t found anything with all that yet (apart from My House, which doesn’t seem right). Anyway:

I’ve spoken to someone who lives in Kings Heath and claimed he worked in the new Costa and it was nice and comfy and a good place to work.  So, even though we’re more Independent Café type people, we thought we’d do an extra trip and take up a table at a corporate.

So, Laura and I arrived at the same time – all well and good.  A comfy sofa came free and I popped to get the tea. Immediate brownie points – they have skimmed milk.  There’s a range of food and biscuits but nothing I can have (so I’d still choose Starbucks if I wanted a chain and a bun) and all seemed good. Then I asked for information on the wireless.

There isn’t any.

So, we’re in a big new shiny café in the heart of Kings Heath, which surely must have a high proportion of freelancers and home-workers. There are power points all over the place – by far the most we’ve found.  And there’s no wireless network.

So while we came in here not exactly wanting to promote this café above the fantastic independent cafes and quirky chains but open to seeing what it was like and having another option when the lack of plug sockets and noisy stuff in other cafes got too much … but we can’t really recommend somewhere where we can only work offline, or with one of those fancy little boxes that, you know, cost money to run.

Other minuses – the seating arrangements were a little odd. You could sit on a squashy sofa, but then you had to rest your laptop on your knee, as the tables are very high. If you try to put the laptop on the table, well, organgrinders and monkeys come to mind …

“What if I found a rat in my tea?” shouted Laura suddenly. She was doing her PR thing and trying to get hold of Costa’s PR office to try and find out what their policy was on wifi in the cafes (it seems is is available in some). And she ran into all sorts of obstacles – which I’ll leave her to describe in her post  …

My verdict: Skimmed milk does not a co-working space make!

Read Laura’s post here and see what she thought of our co-working experience!

For all our cafe reviews so far, click here.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Reviews

 

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(Co)Working our way around town Part 2 – Kitchen Garden Cafe

Here’s the second in an irregular series of wifi cafe and co-working spaces, written by me and my friend Laura.  This time we visited the Kitchen Garden Cafe on York Road in Kings Heath, Birmingham.

I want to say first of all that the KGC is a great place.  The staff are friendly, the food is good, wholesome, mainly organic and pretty good value for money.  It’s comfortable and relaxed.  But, is it a good space for co-working?

We arrived at 11 am and ran into a friend of mine who was already working in there.  We sat in the back room because there happened to be more accessible power points in there.  Here, the cafe scores well, with lots of double plug sockets near to tables; no trailing leads to worry about and the tables are of different sizes, so you don’t have to worry about taking up a big one just because there’s electricity there.   It can get a little bit crowded but, to be fair, it was fine today, from 11am till about 1.30 pm.

The wifi access is simple – choose the one network that comes up and put in a password: no need to register or sign up for anything.  I had some laptop issues which were my own fault, but my two companions accessed the internet fine and didn’t seem to have any problems with the signal dropping or fading.

Food is of decent value and range at lunchtime.  They sometimes have skimmed milk available; if they don’t, there’s always soya milk on offer (and they popped out to get some more this time, rather than just saying they’d run out), and, more importantly, there’s a friendly understanding that that is what I need, it’s not odd, and semi-skimmed won’t do. This is slightly unusual, and to be praised!  We both had home-made fishfinger sandwiches (the fishfingers are pieces of battered fish, not the breadcrumbed variety that I’d been expecting, but to be fair, I didn’t ask, they did do me a lovely sandwich without butter or tartare sauce, and there was enough filling that I could extract the fish from the batter and construct a decent sandwich).

So, a good experience so far.  But unfortunately, lovely cafe as it is, with the excellent assets of plenty of power points, simple wifi access and no one hassling you to buy another cuppa, I’m not sure it’s always the best place for co-working, or indeed working.  The music was quite loud when we were in there, and also – another plus in general – it’s a very family friendly place … so it was full of small children and the inevitable accompanying wails and cries.  I want to stress that we are not anti-child, and it is fine that this is such a place for young families to visit and feel comfortable in.  It just didn’t go, on this visit, with trying to take phone calls or concentrate all that much.  I got some writing done on some draft blog posts, but don’t feel I could have concentrated on anything that immediately needed to represent me perfectly, like publishing blog posts or posting on forums.

But: I do see people in there on laptops a lot, and presumably they’re not all playing Farmville and Tetris! And I do like going there, and I’m sure it  depends hugely on who else is in.  And I would never want to deny the other users their space and enjoyment of this lovely part of the local community! I wonder if a solution would be to open up the room upstairs that’s used for music events, pop a table and some chairs in there and call it a co-working space.  I’d certainly use it!

I will be back, to draft some blog posts or go on some online forums, but mainly in my usual incarnation as a straightforward customer (or BookCrossing lady), there to have a nice, relaxed time and a nice cuppa in a good atmosphere.

Read Laura’s post here and see what she thought of our co-working experience!

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in Reviews

 

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Virtual Assistant or Website Designer? I can help!

If you’re a busy Virtual Assistant (VA) you know that there are some jobs you need to give that personal touch … but others that are more routine and can be outsourced.  If you’re designing websites, often the design and functionality is your forté and you could outsource the copy writing, either because it frees up some of your time, or because it’s not your speciality.

I provide all sorts of services, from copy writing through to copyediting, proofreading, transcription and copy typing.  Here are some ideas for projects I could help you with.

For VAs:

  • I can take routine copy typing or audio typing off your hands
  • I can pick up overflow work when you’re really busy
  • Maybe you prefer not to work weekends but have a valued customer who needs a rush job completing – I work weekends and can let you know availability very quickly
  • I can help you offer services like copy writing or copyediting/proofreading which are outside your usual skillset, allowing you to offer an all-round service to your clients

For website designers:

  • I can write new copy for your clients, based on existing websites and marketing materials or from going through a questionnaire with them
  • I can polish ideas your clients already have into coherent and useful web content
  • I can proofread the final website (including checking links)
  • I can insert keywords into the web content in a natural way to help with the SEO

I don’t need to contact your clients direct; I’m happy to work through you.  And my standard agreement means there’s no worry about me “poaching” your customers – I’m more than happy to work with you long term to satisfy your clients’ needs.  You won’t be employing me, simply outsourcing some of your work; I’ll invoice you an agreed amount per hour and you can invoice your clients whatever you want to!

Talk to me today about outsourcing some of that routine work and getting on with the things that you do best, and that differentiate you from other VAs and web designers.

Have a look at what a copyeditor and proofreader does; see references from my satisfied clients.

Contact me via email or via my contact form.

 

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(Co)Working our way around town Part 1

Now I’ve got more flexibility in my timetable, I suggested to my friend Laura, who also works from home (and cafes, and her office … ) that we add in some “co-working” time to our regular lunches. The definition of co-working has extended from its original “working with colleagues” idea to include working in parallel with other people, who are probably not your direct colleagues, in a space which is probably not either of your offices. That sounds a bit muddled – it’s basically those sets of people with laptops sitting around a big table in your local cafe.

So, we decided to try doing this at a local cafe, and then we decided to start writing an irregular series of reviews of local venues with free wifi in which it’s possible (or impossible) to work. We’re going to work our way around Kings Heath and then possibly venture further afield.

Our reviews will appear on both of our blogs and appear at the same time – I wonder if we’ll have the same opinion of all of them!

Loco Lounge, High Street, Kings Heath

This large, relaxed cafe bar hasn’t been open long but seems popular with the locals, with the outside section being full on these sunny Easter days. It was pretty empty when I arrived at around 10.30 am – but this was a good thing, as I was a bit nervous about taking the laptop out and about.

First things first – a decent pot of tea can be had for £3, and they have soya milk if not skimmed (I am on a special diet for health reasons – you’ll see a lot about milk from me!) although the server didn’t seem sure about how to access the free wifi that was advertised at the front of the cafe. But she asked a manager and we were told that, instead of being given a generic username and password, we needed to set up our own logins. Fair enough, although not something I’ve come across before. The wifi was through something called U2com and I think it’s probably used across a number of locations, perhaps all of the “lounge” cafes. Fair enough, again, but it was *really* complicated to log on and use it – first of all we had to wait ages for the relevant page to come up, and then you put in a username and password, which did actually give access to the wifi connection, had we but known it, but it then redirected me to another login page, which proceeded to tell me the username was already in use (by me!) and sent Laura off to a validation page which never quite worked. I got a validation email too, which I didn’t seem to need to use.

So that was annoying, and the connection was quite slow and did drop from time to time. The other slight annoyance was the lack of electricity sockets – the only ones we could see were occupied by the plugs for standard lamps, which weren’t on. My other experiences of using the laptop in cafes suggests that there are usually more points available. Luckily I was fully charged up and it wasn’t a problem this time, but it might have been.

Points in Loco Lounge’s favour: it was nice and quiet; the tables were big and well-spaced, so it felt safe to have the laptops out and open, with less risk of spillage and other accidents than some other places I’ve visited. The staff were discreet and subtle and we weren’t hassled to buy more drinks, although we did end up having another drink (me) and lunch (Laura). No comment on the food from me, as I didn’t have any, but the prices seemed a little high for snacks, although there were a good few options for my diet, which was refreshing. The lighting is comfortable, there are free newspapers available to browse, and I certainly felt secure enough to sit and work there for a morning or afternoon.

In summary: tweak the internet connection and login and this is a great and recommended place for co-working as well as other kinds of visit.

For Laura’s review, go here!

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Business, Organisation, Reviews

 

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