A Place to Call Your Own: Office Space and Startups

You’ve got an idea, you’ve got a plan – where do you set up your startup in the UK? Here’s a short guide to finding a suitable space to call your own.

Location

Location is either essential or irrelevant to a startup, but if your product or service needs a physical presence, the benefits of space to a startup are multiple – ensuring growth, projecting the right image to clients, tapping in to other business resources and advice.

The next step is vital – part of your business strategy must be to balance between the need to expand vs not over expanding. Inside Startups recently covered this in ‘4 UK Tech Startup Pitfalls‘.

The Options

Once you’ve found the right place, there’s a huge range of options to suit any size or stage of development meaning you can retain flexibility. Managed and unmanaged spaces should be entered in to once you are established.

Before this, it depends on your level of maturity as a business – entrepreneur dedicated spaces offer both desks to rent (with other businesses) or full offices with advice and help for startups. It’s often a great idea to share a space with fellow startups or established companies – not only does idea sharing help, but also you might benefit from the services they offer – take for example being in the same space as design agency, web or mobile dev company – you can instantly throw work their way and reduce your startup costs with a high-quality presence for your business. This also raises the question – do you know a larger company that has spare space?

Google’s Office In Zurich, they started in a garage.

With any of these options, there’s an added opportunity – does the company incubate startups? This could lead to a less heavy investment that going after VC – allowing you to retain large share of your business but also opening the incubating company to mentor you, you will see them day to day and the relationship will be stronger.

Finally, the key questions is – do you really need an office? Many of the top companies started out in a makeshift space – Google started out in 1996 in friend of Larry Page and Sergey Brin – Susan Wojcicki’s garage! Facebook in a Harvard University dorm. This raises the question – do you need an office? Working from home for example can offer tax deductions, vital saving for when you’re just starting out. If you need to meet, there are managed spaces that allow you to rent temporary meeting rooms. There’s also of course cafe’s – many of which are gearing up to help businesses.

Regardless of your choice, don’t go overboard and splash out – tieing yourself in to a costly space when you might not need it at all is a key killer of a startup.

Managed and Unmanaged Spaces

Whether it’s an office you need, a studio or a factory – a whole host of great sites offer estate agency style search.

Instant Offices:: has a great search engine with spaces across the UK.

Work Space: offers multiple types of space from offices to light industrial through to workshops and studios. Is London-centric but looks like it’s growing outside of the capital.
Entrepreneur Dedicated Spaces

Office Genie: is a great concept with an emphasis on sharing office space with currently ‘3185 spare desks in shared offices’, ‘174,631 desks to rent in serviced offices’, ‘space for 95,415 desks in rented offices’… the list goes on.

Regus: is a well known office space provider, in 2009 they launched ‘Get Started’ a campaign with free office space for startups. Today they are still providing packages and advice for new businesses.

Do You Need An Office?

The UK has a great range of cafe’s with different approaches and feels – chose the one that works for you and the feel of your business – often it’s a great way to meet clients as it projects a relaxed feel. I, for example have often worked out of Starbucks Brushfield St, London, they are even catering for businesses, with 3 floors, free WiFi and large work desks throughout.

Do you have great tips for office space – what to look for, what to avoid? How have you found the process of finding it? Let us know in the comments below!