Tips for Bootstrapping a Business

Virtual Office Space

Written by Steve Adams for Gaebler Ventures

Virtual office space can be a great way to save money when starting a business. Other ways include sublets, shared office space and driving a hard-bargain when renting office space.

Most small businesses fail within the first year because their spending outpaces their income.

Virtual Office Space

So, the key is to keep your expenses to an absolute minimum.

Before you invest in a fancy office, consider whether you might be able to bootstrap your business up without renting office space.

In this article, we offer some tips on how to save money on startup expenses by keeping money that you might otherwise give to a landlord.

Sure, there is something thrilling about having an actual office to go to.

Nothing says "legitimate" like a separate office. But if you're trying to conserve cash in a tight economy, consider passing on leasing one office space for your organization in favor of some thrifty alternatives.

Let's get started looking at ways to avoid leasing office space or at least minimize the costs for renting office space.

Having Employees Work From Home

An obvious one is to have everyone work from home. There's no cost for the space, and you can use an online service to store and share documents, creating a de facto network for the organization.

You'll also save on many of the things you don't think of at first, such as office furniture, decorating expenses, coffee for the office (along with a coffee maker), a common copier and more.

Sublet Office Space

If you feel you personally need an office that's separate from your home, see if you can sublet space from another company in your area.

With all the downsizing that's occurred recently, especially in service-oriented businesses, many companies are probably paying for empty space. If you can sublet one of those empty offices you'll both win. By using a virtual phone service you can give the appearance of having a well-established business.

Shared Office Space

You can also look into common office space -- the type where several organizations share certain resources, such as a common lobby, conference rooms and admin support -- while occupying different offices.

Often they come equipped with furniture and other office equipment, helping you keep your costs lower. Shop around a little and you may find a great bargain.

Look for Office Rental Deals

Shopping around also applies to traditional office space. If you decide that you do need to rent an office, at least make sure that you get a great deal.

After all, it's a buyer's market for office space.

The down economy has created a lot of empty spaces that are costing commercial real estate companies money. Lots of it. Nationally, a little more than 13 percent of office space is unoccupied now. In some regions, though, the figure is almost double that.

Ask around to see where space has been empty for a long time and put on your negotiating hat. Right now commercial real estate companies may figure some income is better than none, and you can move in to space you normally couldn't afford as a startup.

Steve Adams is Vice President of Marketing for Protus, provider of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) communication tools for small-to-medium businesses (SMB) and enterprise organizations.

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