How to Find a Free Office (Or One That is Extremely Cheap)
It’s a general business rule that rent should account for less than 5 percent of your sales income (the exact number varies by industry). Yet, in many markets, office space is extremely expensive, making rent a barrier to entry for many entrepreneurs hoping to start their own company. If the price of office space is deterring you from starting your business, don’t give up! If you’re creative and determined, you can find office space for little to no cost. Wondering how to find a free office (or at least a cheap one?) Following are a few ideas to consider.
Work from Home
Operating a business out of your home has its pros and cons. To start, it’s free, and it allows you to be easily available for home and family-related responsibilities, such as the morning school run, checking in on aging relatives, managing the laundry piles, and accepting deliveries. On the flip side, all of these things can be immensely distracting when you’re trying to concentrate on work. It can be difficult to arrange meetings with potential clients and partners when you’re working out of your home and don’t have access to a professional-looking conference room. Even conference calls can be interrupted by the neighbor’s incessantly barking dog or your kids fighting in the other room. If you don’t have a lot of extra space, storing equipment and inventory can also be difficult at home. Even if it’s not ideal, many entrepreneurs start out from their home with the hope of moving to an office once the business starts growing and bringing in more cash.
There are lots of existing businesses that have an excess of space in their buildings. Many would be glad to rent (or sublet) this space to you for free in exchange for useful services. For example, if you run an IT consulting business, perhaps a local ad agency with a spare desk needs help troubleshooting computer issues. Or maybe a small software company would be willing to give a basement office not in use to a freelance graphic designer in exchange for logo work.
Rent a Co-work Space
Companies like WeWork and NextSpace offer office space to solopreneurs and small businesses on an as-needed basis. Co-work spaces like these can be rented for a term or a special event. If you just need somewhere hold a meeting with a potential new client, you can rent a conference room for a few hours. If you work alone and need somewhere quiet to get work done, you can rent a small office monthly. Many entrepreneurs enjoy this type of space because it helps save money and also introduces them to other small business owners, which is useful for networking. Additionally, most co-work space providers handle all cleaning, maintenance, and administrative duties, taking a few items off your already full plate.
Seek Community-sponsored Space
Some cities provide free workspaces to companies and solopreneurs that qualify in order to promote economic growth. Certain universities also offer no-cost workspaces to encourage student entrepreneurs. Landing a space like this usually involves a lengthy application process or a contest of some sort. If your city or school doesn’t offer a program like this, inquire to see if it’s something they would consider. It never hurts to ask!
Until your sales grow and your cash flow is healthy, it can be difficult for a new business to afford office space. How to find a free office is challenging, but not impossible. If the suggestions above aren’t viable in your situation, think about seeking financing, like a small business loan or line of credit, to help ease the burden of rent until your business can stand more firmly on its own.