Why should a fledgling recruitment business consider moving into an office?
When you envisage running your own business (be that in recruitment or in a different sector) I would hazard a guess that you don’t imagine sitting in a corner of your front room, surrounded by children’s toys, listening to the washing machine whirring and staring at your magnolia walls all day.
I know I imagine a beautiful office, perhaps in a Victorian town house, with a stylish glass plaque outside. Or a lovely open plan set up with a buzzy atmosphere.
But, the reality is, for most start-up businesses, an office is not a necessity.
Keeping costs as low as possible in the initial few months or years is more important than that swanky office in a desirable postcode and that inevitably means working from home. With office costs varying widely dependent on area, it’s hard to predict what you could be saving but we’ve seen everything from £50 per week to over £2,000 per month.
Unless you live in the world’s smallest studio flat (and even then….hello, Ikea space solutions) you should have the space at home to create a work environment, even if it’s a corner of your spare room behind that exercise bike that’s been languishing under an inch of dust since January 7th. Carving out your own space and creating a ‘work’ environment that isn’t costing you anything extra plus the convenience of being at home for those parcel deliveries – what’s not to love!
Enough said! No two hours on the train, no sitting in traffic, no waiting for the bus in the rain – simply a short stroll down the corridor and you’re at work.
Now, we’re not scared of commitment, but we know that, if a start-up business is going to fail, it’s usually in the first 6 months of trading. So why sign up to a 12-month lease immediately that ties you in to a set monthly payment? Why not get a few months successful trading under your belt, a pot of money in the bank and then take that step?
Work from anywhere
Without the commitment of an office, you really can work from anywhere and today’s technology makes that so much more possible. Want to go and sit in the park on a sunny afternoon? Want to jet off to the South of France for 3 weeks? Need to be at home during school holidays? It’s all possible, without the constant cost of an office or the constant nagging voice that says you should be there.
It’s not all bad though, is it?
We all talk about work/life blend and it’s true that the lines are blurred in today’s society, none more so than when you are running your own business. But there still needs to be a clear line between home and work life and, as many of the recruiters we support can attest to, this line is difficult to draw when your home becomes your office and your office becomes your home. Whether it’s that email you just have to send at 11.01pm or that Saturday morning database update that simply can’t wait until Monday morning, working from home does mean it can sometimes be difficult to switch off.
And similarly, the simple act of travelling to an office in one’s work attire can help switch from ‘home’ to ‘work’ mode.
Many of our recruitment ventures report an increase in productivity once they have moved into an office. In a similar vein to the above, my theory on this is that working in an office limits distractions (no Jeremy Kyle or friends popping round for coffee or toddlers having tantrums) and focusses the mind to make the most of office time.
Room to expand
It’s a no brainer really – when the time comes to expand your business and take on your first employee, an office space is a must. Not only do you not want to invite a stranger into your home but you will need the legitimacy and professional image of an office to attract the best talent. Office cost is always something that should be factored in when considering the cost to the business of employing someone.
It’s not often, but sometimes recruitment businesses simply need the footfall that comes with a High Street or City Centre location. For temp businesses working in sectors such as industrial or FMCG, where hooking in those all-important workers as they stroll by is a necessity, an office in a town centre location can be viewed as a must and a worth investment. Plus add in the credibility of your office address and hopefully your clients will be impressed too.
Meeting and networking
Got a hot meeting with a client? Want to sign up that superstar candidate? Of course, the local branch of Starbucks is not always the best place to conduct business and your perpetual insistence to meet at the client’s site so that you can understand the culture of the company is starting to sound slightly suspicious. Having a professional looking office space can give you somewhere you can meet clients and candidates with pride.
And, for those in a serviced office or shared office building, the networking could be invaluable. You never know where your next client might come from.
The bottom line
Taking on an office isn’t right for every start-up business – the key is to assess as objectively as possible your needs, don’t get swept away by the notion of having a swanky office and genuinely ask yourself whether you can afford the cost – not just now, but in 3 or 6 or 12 months’ time, depending on your business’ performance.
At SSG we provide sound advice based on extensive experience of providing financial backing, recruitment support, legal and compliance, back office services, branding, marketing communications and business mentoring. Since forming in 2003 we’ve supported the launch of over 300 recruitment agencies across 29 sectors.
Interested in setting up? Talk to us…
From pre-launch to launch and beyond, we’ll help you every step of the way to getting your business noticed and recommended. We provide quality training materials and events to our ventures, from our online Training Portal, to webinars and live training workshops, covering a variety of recruitment and business-related topics.