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Shared Offices – The “Save Money, Make Money” Solution for Small Businesses

shared offices

June 26, 2015

No matter what industry you’re in, reducing your overhead and acquiring new business are the lynchpins of success, and that’s why the shared offices approach really makes sense. Every business goes through slowdowns, and occasional layoffs. It’s all part of the game. And every business struggles at times with how to get more clients, customers or leads. How well an owner addresses these challenges can be a key turning point in a company’s ability to weather the proverbial storm.
If you’re like many small business owners, the need for new business has led you to join a local networking group. The basic concept behind these groups is, “although we don’t work out of the same shared offices, we will all get together once a week, and share our story.” You dutifully attend the meetings, give your :60 elevator speech, and anxiously await the fruits of your labor to materialize. The problem is, most of the people at these networking groups are there for the same reason you’re there – to solicit business. So you quickly realize that the real target market is not the members of the group, but the contacts they may have who they’ll refer you to. And truth be told, the more referring you do, the more likely it is that you’ll get referrals too.
But the old, “one hand washes the other” approach to networking is great if you find someone in the group who serves a similar customer base, as do you. Not always easy to find that great matchup, if you will. The A/C repair company will likely get some very good referrals from the whole group come summertime, but the insurance salesperson, not so much.
Networking Group “Exclusivity”
And here’s another challenge in the whole “exclusivity” aspect of a lot of these networking groups. The lines of differentiation have been blurred in many industries today. Time was, a printer simply printed pieces. And a public relations company just handled clients’ public relations. The changing business climate coupled with technology advancements have created what can be described as, “chameleon companies.” They operate under the umbrella of their “primary” specialty, but depending on what a client needs, they get it done through a strategic alliance with another vendor. So you’ve got printers doing websites and PR firms doing creative work. This phenomenon has particularly gained traction within the creative, marketing and public relations fields. The battle cry is to be a provider of solutions, not specifics. So while you, as the owner of a graphic design firm, think you’re the only graphic design company in the networking group, it should come as no surprise that members who call themselves printers, web designers, direct mailers, public relations, marketers, advertisers, oversized graphics shops, and more, will also be soliciting for the same business as you. It can be frustrating.
Bottom line is, local networking groups are great for certain types of businesses, but not for everyone.
Plan B
Now let’s consider another approach to the networking game – shared offices.
In a shared offices situation, instead of sharing the “stage” with dozens of other networking members, you’re sharing space with one other company. If it’s done right, you’ll be sharing space with another firm who serves a similar customer base, but doesn’t do exactly what you do. In other words, compatible, but non-competitive. This not only solves the office space dilemma, but also puts your company in an environment where it can grow – and you can help the other firm grow, too. It’s called, “business synergy” and it can result in referrals, networking and collaboration. And along the way, you’ll save money while you make money, as sharing office services are much more efficient than paying for them yourself.
Save Money, Get More Value
When you rent space in another company’s office, you’re getting much better value for your rent dollar than leasing dedicated space. Shared offices usually results in the smaller company benefitting from having a more prestigious address than they normally could afford on their own. Plus, they’ll have access to a more robust list of building and office amenities, and be able to utilize existing services, such as a receptionist and conference rooms. A lot of small businesses rent in an executive center for this reason. But typically, these executive centers do not offer the same level of interaction between two companies that a shared offices environment does.

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