Setting up an Office-Based Business
Top 3 factors to consider
Your first office space could make or break your business. "Poor infrastructure is a major frustration for small business owners trying to get on and do their job," explains Mike Cherry, national chairman of the UK's Federation of Small Businesses. "Whether it's poor quality broadband stopping a small business doing more online, or ... businesses finding it harder to get around because of poor local roads and public transport, ... infrastructure can have a serious effect on business growth and viability."
Here are three vital factors every business should consider when looking for an office space.
Pick an office space that understands the nature of your business. For example, if you're in the manufacturing sector, a space in the industrial estates would have the right features and infrastructure your business needs. Similarly if you're in the tech industry, consider spaces like the Haw Par Technocentre or JTC LaunchPad@One-North, that are equipped for digital innovation and business growth.
Platforms like CommercialGuru can help you find the best location at the best prices. When looking for the right location, it's important to keep these factors in mind:
Is it easily accessible for your staff and clients?
Are there nearby amenities like F&B outlets, banks and post offices?
Does the building or area contribute to a positive brand image?
Are your competitors located near you and if so, is that an advantage or disadvantage?
Co-working spaces are also a cost-effective alternative to a fixed office space. Local co-working spaces provider the perfect innovative environment for like-minded entrepreneurs to connect and collaborate. Most setups also come with facilities like meeting rooms and printing equipment, to serve all your business needs. In addition, they add value to the office experience with events like The Hive's Thursday Social, where members from different businesses can come together to network, share ideas or simply unwind.
Your office environment determines your business' level of efficiency and productivity. Apart from the basics like furniture and lighting, consider installing an alarm system for extra security.
E27 recommends creating a workspace that reflects your brand: "[P]ut your own spin on the surroundings so your employees can connect with you and understand what you expect from them."[i]
If you have the budget to spare, hire an interior designer that can help to plan the most conducive environment for collaboration, innovation and productivity. Their years of expertise can also ensure help you ensure that you are maximising your rental space. Consider RenoTalk when looking for a suitable renovation designer.
Apart from the physical factors, consider the type of working environment you want to create for your team. Flexible work arrangements (FWA) are on the rise, with increasing evidence that they boost productivity[ii]. If you're looking to implement FWA like part-time and work from home options, the Singapore National Employers Federation's WorkPro Work-Life grant could help with funding. The grant offers up to $160,000 to businesses offering FWAs to help them implement these practices.
From online connectivity to seamless communication, a solid IT ecosystem is crucial to managing and growing your busines. Look into getting these solutions form one provider. This way, you can reduce costs with bundle promotions and simplify your bill management.
The first step in building an IT infrastructure is to determine the type of broadband connection your business will need, whether it's dynamic or static. In general, static broadband is advisable for businesses that require or deliver dedicated services like compter server hosting, FTP, VPN and mail servers or for hosting their own domain.
Communication tools are just as vital. When deciding on your office telephony solution, opt for a unified communications system that's versatile, allows you to work on the move, and comes bundled with key features like soft-phone support, instant messaging and presence, call forwarding and transfer.
Equipment and software make up the final pillar of every office's IT infrastructure. However, a robust infrastructure doesn't have to set your finances back by a sizeable amount. Instead of purchasing your hardware and software upfront, consider leasing your device with a subscription service. A subscription model lets you refresh your technology every contract cycle, get the latest updates in software and even comes with technical support, all for just a small monthly fee.
When it comes to productivity software like email, presentation and spreadsheet applications, a high-end solution that grows with your business is definitely a good investment. Keep an eye out for a cloud-based solution that lets you take your work mobile, and offers flexibility that scales up with your business.
Setting up an office can be daunting yet exciting all at the same time. With the right team, infrastructure and location in place, your business is all set to take off.