Sure, Subleasing Office Space sounds like a great idea…
“Don't go and spend money on office space, I've got a spare room at my office you can just work out of. It’ll be great.”
You've heard it from friends, clients and even vendors. It may sound great at first, but in reality, the opportunity cost and risks involved can be more than you think. Before you jump in on what looks like the best deal on earth, here's 5 things to be mindful of to protect your business today, and tomorrow.
1. It's their office space, with their branding. Not yours.
No matter what you think you'll be able to explain away when clients come to visit, you're always going to look as though you're in "borrowed" office space. It's their logo on the door, their receptionist greeting your clients and their choices you'll be living with. If they decide to re-decorate, it's their decision. If they suddenly start getting lousy reviews online, your business address is their address and so you'll feel the pain also.
2. Do you really know how they conduct business?
No matter how well you know your friend / client / vendor, you're going to get to know them a whole lot more if you 'bunk up' with them at the office. And they're going to learn a whole lot more about how you run yours. Do you want anyone that close to your business? Seeing every client that comes in? Hearing every phone call? Can you trust their staff not to look at your sensitive information? Or their cleaners to handle your room the way you want it to be handled?
3. The first impression is the last impression.
Will your current and future customers really understand the situation? Will they have the confidence that you're business is real and not a hobby? Will they be willing to commit their resources, and place their business' future in your hands if they're nervous you don't believe in yourself enough to commit to your own, dedicated space? Or worse, will they think your business can't afford to?
4. What if there's a conflict of interest or disagreement?
If it's a client or a partner, what happens when inevitably something goes wrong or you disagree? Will it jeopardize the bigger, business relationship? Will it cause you to lose more revenue than you'd be saving by working there? What do you do if you have another client in the same business they're in, and they need to come see you in the office? Will they be happy with a competitor walking in? Will they be happy having their team and customers seeing that competitor walk in? Will they be expecting the 'friend' pricing from you because they did you a favor?
5. How are you protected if something goes wrong?
Usually, these types of 'deals' are done informally, on a handshake and so your business have almost no protection or guarantee, of anything. If they forget to pay the light bill, you're left dealing with no power. If they forget to pay the rent, will the Landlord still recognize you and your business if he locks the doors? Will you receive any notice that that's about to happen if you're not on the lease?
Don't forget Google Maps! You need to be able to register your business at your own, unique suite number that won't be affected by anything or anyone else.
There's so many other considerations to think about that we couldn't cover them all, but whatever you decide to do, choosing to project a professional, stable image for your business should be the highest priority to help you win business, and keep it.
Coming in a close second, is choosing somewhere that gives you stability and predictability. Know your costs today and make sure you have visibility for tomorrow. Don't be caught blindsided in someone else's relationship, with no ability to protect your business and your brand.
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