Anyone following my start-up journey on social media has probably noticed I’ve been posting almost non-stop about my new office – that’s because I’m insanely excited about it! After freelancing from home part-time for the past few years one of my biggest hesitations working for myself full-time was the prospect of having to work from home.
Now, everyone’s different. But for me, a brief stint of working from home (when I was in between jobs) left me scarred for life – I literally went a few days without human interaction, my outfits had devolved into mismatched athletic wear and I was working completely irregular hours.
If you’re as extroverted as me, renting office space or looking into a local co-working space is going to be a major factor in your ability to be successful. If you’re just starting out, the low commitment option of co-working may be a better fit – your own office often means committing to a 12-month lease for both the space and the Internet.
I’ve tried co-working in the past and was ready to try out my own space, but after weeks of searching I was worried my own space would be completely out of my price range. While the sticker price looked completely doable at first, there are a few additional costs to take into consideration:
1- Business Internet: Pricing for Business Class Internet is considerably higher then residential service. For a creative business that typically deals with large files, we needed a slightly higher speed -- this started in the $140 range and was priced into the $200s for turbo speeds.
2- Commercial Renter’s Insurance: Expect commercial renter’s insurance to cost significantly more than the $10/month policy for your apartment. Before signing a lease, ask the leasing company for a copy of the minimum insurance requirements (these will be different everywhere) and be sure to price out a few different policies. Depending on the company, you may be able to get a lower rate if you use the same company you already have a policy with.
Be prepared to answer questions about your equipment, how many clients will be visiting and your day-to-day business operations so you can receive an accurate quote.
3- Furnishing your office: Thrifting and shopping for furniture at Goodwill can take a considerable amount of time and luck. Before committing to a space, be sure to take stock of what you have or can borrow. If you have to start from scratch, thrifting, Ikea or Walmart are probably your best bet! Take into account the cost for a few basic decorations, window coverings, rugs and consider if you need a lockable filing cabinet for confidential billing information.
4- Office supplies: Working in your own space means you’ll need to purchase everything from sticky notes and pens to a new printer. These costs can add up to hundreds of dollars for even the thriftiest, most selective shoppers.
5- Common Areas: Find out whether your office building will be offering a break room or shared kitchen. Eating out every day is a major expense when you’re just starting out – so you may be looking at making the investment in a mini fridge, microwave, bottled water, dishes, plastic silverware, or a coffeemaker.
After weeks of crunching the numbers, I was able to find a cozy, 230-square-foot office to split with another start-up business. Halving the costs of everything with an officemate left me with a much less intimidating monthly cost. For me, having my own office space was a necessary investment in my happiness and the long-term success of business, but like everything else, it’s necessary to weigh the cost and make the best decision for you.