Alternative office space can offer flexibility

 

Published in The Tennessean June 15, 2015

By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville

“I’m starting a new business. I can do a lot of work from home, but I need a professional space to meet with clients; Starbucks won’t cut it. What are my alternatives?”

Whether for client meetings or just to get out of the house, it’s good to have a place to go that is all about business. Nashville is booming and office space is becoming scarce and costly. But hope is not lost. Nashville’s entrepreneur culture has created many alternatives to traditional office leases.

Business incubators and accelerators . These are short-term solutions to office needs. Some include private offices and others shared space. You generally are limited in the time you can stay in these spaces as they are designed strictly for start-ups. Many offer on-site education programs. Costs and programs vary greatly. The Nashville Business Incubation Center and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center are among the many alternatives.

Co-working spaces . These tend to be open spaces where you bring a laptop and find a comfortable space to work. Most offer private spaces for meetings and presentations. Co-working spaces often host events and speakers to foster networking and new ideas. You can pay for a certain number of hours per month or unlimited access. E|SPACES and the Skillery are but two of the options.

Private offices with support staff . Here you rent a small private office and you also have access to shared conference facilities and support staff. You can have your phone answered, mail delivered, and receive some secretarial support. One of the largest in the category is Regus, which has two locations in the Nashville area and 3,000 locations in 120 countries. There are others locally owned and operated.

Lease or borrow unused space . I have a client that works (and lives) in the upstairs of a house owned by a law firm that has offices on the lower level. Or look for a partner or client with unused space. They might allow you to use an office occasionally at no cost or rent it to you if you need it often.

Share dedicated office space with another business . Some doctors share offices, diagnostic equipment, and support staff even though they don’t share patients or profits. Can you find another business with similar needs with which you could share office space? If so, make sure you begin with a written agreement about what is shared, what is private, and how costs are divided.

Do an Internet search and consider the plethora of available options, many more than I could list. You will find a wide range of privacy, support and pricing. Some choices will not fit a specific category but provide a mix of services. You should find a solution that works for you.

Ed Rappuhn is a mentor, workshop facilitator, and the past-chair of SCORE Nashville. SCORE mentors guide entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses. Sign up for a free SCORE mentor, find out about our reasonably priced workshops and other services, or volunteer to become a SCORE member at www.scorenashville.org .