What to Consider When Shopping for Office Headquarters
15 June

What to Consider When Shopping for Office Headquarters

If you’re shopping for a new office space, there are many things to consider beyond what is simply available. Since your office space is where you’ll do the bulk of your business dealings, it’s imperative that you find the right space for not just your business, but your budget and your future.

“An office environment reflects and reinforces a business’s core values, through the placement of different teams and functions and design elements that reflect culture, brand, and values,” explains Harvard Business Review (HBR.org).

While availability is certainly something to consider, it’s not as critical as you may believe. What is far more important to keep in mind is something HBR.org identifies as the “7 Attributes of Workspaces:”

1 – Location of Your Office Headquarters

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s crucial to choose a space that is central to your business needs and clients. Be sure to keep in mind how easy the space is to access by visiting customers and colleagues.

2 – Office Elements

You’ll need to take stock of any potential office headquarters’ spacial elements. What we mean is, how open is the location? Does it offer privacy where needed for meetings, and spaces that encourage comfort and productivity?

3 – Privacy Matters

Similar to the elements listed above, privacy is a key attribute to keep in mind. You’ll need to make sure the space offers elements such as private conference rooms, individual land lines for closed telephone meetings, and any other privacy options.

4 – Tech Tools

Since the bulk of business dealings today are handled digitally in one form or another, it’s crucial that your new office space is equipped with the necessary technology. Look for locations that can offer high-speed internet, Wi-Fi, and other integrated technology tools. There are many locations, such as coworking spaces, that offer all-inclusive bundles for office spaces that are ready-to-go and equipped with all the digital tools you’ll need.

5 – Networking Appeal

One simple element that many entrepreneurs overlook is the degree to which your space invites clients and colleagues to network together. In other words, does the space offer ample and inviting areas where you can comfortably carry on business with others in both a social and functional way?

6 – Focal Points

This may seem trivial, but focal points are a critical piece of any office environment. They are the elements within the space which draw you to them (and by extension, your clients). You’ll want to choose a space that has appealing aspects and a well-thought-out area for inviting and comfortable work areas.

7 – Available Space

Lastly, a space is only as valuable as its available work areas, so take stock of how much (and what kind of) space you need and compare that with potential headquarters. The area needs to have enough room for your daily functions (quiet space, communal areas, conference rooms), yet also allow for any future growth.

Overall Considerations

Once you have taken all of these elements into consideration, you can then compare your options with other aspects. Obviously, you’ll want to carefully consider your budget and individual business needs among other things. Overall, your office space will say a lot about your business in general, so consider all factors carefully before moving into your new space.

The Benefits of Coworking Office Spaces
1 June

The Benefits of Coworking Office Spaces

Coworking office spaces have grown exponentially in popularity among entrepreneurs in recent years. In fact, communal work environments are predicted to average membership growth rate increases of nearly 25% over the next few years alone, according to the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC).

So why the sudden influx of memberships? Perhaps it’s the unique and diverse environments associated with coworking offices spaces. Or, perhaps, it’s one of the dozens of other benefits members list as appealing that is drawing new members in droves.

According to sources such as the Harvard Business Review and the Chicago Tribune, coworking office spaces have become wildly popular for numerous reasons. Members who participate in them state the coworking spaces allow them benefits that are unparalleled by any other means. Of the many benefits given, here are some of the most widely reported advantages coworking members reported:

The Coworking Savings

For starters, let’s be honest – when it comes to business, the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. An office space option that allows you to cut costs while keeping a beautiful and functional work space is going to be high on the list for sure.

“If you lease your own office space, you’re responsible for paying for utilities, supplies and amenities. With shared offices, utilities such as water and Internet are included, as are other amenities including coffee and kitchen supplies. This reduces costs and some of the details you have to tackle day to day,” explains ChicagoTribune.com.

No More Office Politics

Another benefit, as researchers with Harvard Business discovered during a 2015 survey, is that coworking spaces have a noticeable lack of “office politics.” Since everyone who is involved in a shared office environment has a different area of expertise, there is no sense of competition among coworkers.

“Because there is little direct competition or internal politics, they don’t feel they have to put on a work persona to fit in,” Harvard Business Review reports. As a result, coworking space members tend to feel much more comfortable and focused on their own projects than they did in traditional office spaces.

Flexibility

Since shared office spaces usually offer monthly membership options, you have much more flexibility than you would with an office lease or mortgage. The monthly choices give members the ability to operate on an as-needed basis, as well as allowing them the flexibility of their own schedules as well. Coworker spaces are often open 24/7 for members to access whenever they want. This allows for a “come and go as you please” office environment, which is (understandably) highly appealing to members.

Community and Support

Finally, coworkers have noted that one of the biggest benefits to utilizing shared office spaces comes in the form of the community and support they gain while at work. Coworking spaces have members from all walks of business and experiences. This gives members a unique opportunity to socialize with others they may never have met before.

By extension, members are also entrenched in a pool of coworking specialties. This means that most will have a new set of coworkers that can offer on-demand help or advice with fresh perspectives every day. It also offers some fantastic networking opportunities.

The benefits of coworking seem to be never-ending if you have the opportunity to discuss experiences with someone who participates in a membership. One thing is for certain; the statistics clearly state that coworking offices are trending, and we’re beginning to see why!

SEO, B2B, SMM and More Digital Marketing Terms You Should Get to Know
15 May

SEO, B2B, SMM and More Digital Marketing Terms You Should Get to Know

With the digital world booming today, your understanding of online marketing strategies can essentially make or break your business ventures. Practically every form of commerce has a corresponding (if not central) online presence nowadays, but the reality is, not all business owners are also digital marketing gurus.

The good news is, you don’t have to be a marketing whiz to operate a successful online presence for your business. Understanding the basics of digital campaigns will help you navigate your way through the web; and it all begins with knowing the lingo.

Digital Marketing Terms

The first step to tackling digital marketing is to learn the terminology behind it. There are a lot of various anagrams and terms out there that can be quite confusing – but they don’t have to be. Once you familiarize yourself with the lingo, you’re well on your way to improving your business’s online presence.

“The better you familiarize yourself, the easier it is to understand and speak discerningly, whether it’s within internal departments or the agency building your website.” – Forbes.com.

Acronyms

There seem to be no shortage of acronyms when it comes to digital marketing terminology. Consider it the shorthand of the day, or the texting lingo of the business world. However, you look at it, acronyms are here to stay, so it’s best to get familiar with them – at least, the most widely used phrases.

Some of the acronyms should be fairly understandable once you learn what they represent. In fact, many of them are just abbreviations of common business terms you likely are already familiar with.

Most Common Acronyms

Here is a look at some of the most common acronyms used in digital marketing today, along with a brief description of their meaning:

  • B2B: Business to Business, or commercial operations
  • B2C: Business to Consumer, or traditional operations
  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization, or knowing how to drive customers to your site
  • SMM: Social Media Marketing, or utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms
  • WOM: Word of Mouth, or advertising via client praise

The Details

Essentially, the bulk of the terms are fairly self-explanatory. If you’re a business owner, chances are you are already familiar with terms like “word of mouth” and know whether your business is focused on B2B or B2C transactions.

However, it goes without saying that the more you know, the better off you are. Especially when it comes to familiarizing yourself with current trends and successful digital marketing tactics.

SEO knowledge, for example, is a highly sought-after commodity in terms of creating a booming virtual business. Why? Well, since the bulk of all internet traffic flows through search engines (such as Google) first, the businesses who rank in the top findings for each search are the ones with the greatest visitors. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that greater website traffic equates to a wider client base.

“Having your online business searched, found and ranked is not only about how you are marketing and messaging to online audiences but also how it is in observance of the latest rules and algorithms.” – Forbes.com.

The More You Know

There are multitudes of acronyms out there when it comes to digital marketing, but don’t let that dissuade you from getting your business out there digitally. These terms are critical parts of running a successful business venture of any kind today. The more you learn, the easier it will be to navigate your online presence.

Determining Your Business Structure: LLC, Sole Proprietorship or Inc?
15 April

Determining Your Business Structure: LLC, Sole Proprietorship or Inc?

One of the most critical decisions to make when starting a new business, is choosing the right business structure. There’s a lot of jargon out there that can be quite confusing when it comes to choosing a business structure.

“The business structure you choose influences everything from day-to-day operations, to taxes, to how much of your personal assets are at risk. You should choose a business structure that gives you the right balance of legal protections and benefits.” – sba.gov

With so much riding on which structure you choose, it’s easy to understand the importance of making the right choice. To ensure you make the best decision for your business, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Understand the Differences

First and foremost, you will need to understand the differences between each business structure. You can’t very well decide one or the other is better if you don’t know what each offers or requires.

Should you file as a Limited Liability Company (LLC)? A Non-Profit? A Corporation? What about C-Corp, S-Corp, or B-Corp? How do you know which structure is right?

Start by educating yourself on the details of the most widely-used legal business structures. Sites such as the U.S. Small Business Administration (sba.gov) or the IRS (irs.gov) can offer helpful definitions of each structure.

Identify Your Options

Once you have a basic understanding of the typical structures available to you, you can begin comparing them. Some of the choices will automatically be eliminated (for example – if you’re not forming a business with a partner, you can obviously rule out filing as a Partnership), but others will need a closer look.

Create a small list of the structures which are not ruled out by basic criteria. Even if you may not initially consider one, if your business qualifies, add it to the list for now.

Create a Short List

From here, you can begin to compare and eliminate options. Do this by adding criteria, pros and cons, regulations, and whatever else you discover in your research under each structure on your list. By short-listing the highlights, you will be able to do a side-by-side comparison later on which will help you make the best possible decision for your business.

Be sure to include details in your comparison list such as tax liabilities, company control levels, legal liabilities, and any other form of protection you may need down the road. This will help you to weigh the risk-factors of each structure in terms of protecting your business (and your personal assets) in any future unforeseen issues.

Speak with Established Owners

Another thing to consider when deciding the right structure for your company is the invaluable insight from others who have already gone through it. Speaking with other local business owners, colleagues from a coworking space, or friends and family who have entrepreneurial experience can give you an inside look at things you may not think of by simply doing online searches.

In short, such an important decision is best made with all of the facts and details in mind. The only way to do that is to be thorough in your research and seek the advice of others who have been through the process.

Business Plan Basics: 5 Steps to Your Best Business Plan
1 April

Business Plan Basics: 5 Steps to Your Best Business Plan

When starting your own business, there’s one detail all successful business owners can attest to: create a solid business plan. While this may not be groundbreaking news, your business plan is a crucial step and needs to be taken seriously.

A solid business plan will help you with more than investment pitches (though that is a critical point for most). It will also help you outline everything you’ll need to be successful and will illuminate any potential problem areas.

Creating the detailed plan can be a tedious task but avoid being tempted to rush through it. This piece will be the backbone of all your future business’s endeavors; approach it with commitment.

With your future success riding on a solid business plan, prep work is imperative. To help make this happen, here are 5 steps to your best business plan:

1 – Create a Space

You might be ready to dive into writing, but the very first step should be to create a space. Before you begin your plan, you must make sure you’re prepared to work!

Whether it be a home office, a co-working office space, or an on-site building, you need to have a location that is specifically for working on your future business. Why? Not only does an office space give you a chance to work undistracted, it reaffirms your commitment to future endeavors. By designating a work space for yourself, you’ll be able to cut down on distractions, focus on your commitment to your future success, and get down to business.

2 – Do Your Research

Once you’ve created your working space, it’s time to begin researching. Since a bulk of your business plan will revolve around outlining your intentions, you need to be able to back up your words with action. Research similar businesses, speak with local business owners for tips, and use your research to formulate your intended actions.

3 – Do More Research

When it comes to a business plan, knowledge is key. The more you research, the higher your chances of success. It’s not enough to simply have a dream – you need to be able to make it a reality. You do this by fleshing out an outline of your path. You’ll need to know your market, competitive pricing, thoroughly define what you’re offering and how you’ll stand out from competition.

4 – Business Plan Outline

After you’ve begun your research, create a basic outline of your business plan. You shouldn’t begin writing it entirely, but create a skeleton outline of what to expect. For some, this can come in the form of a generic business plan template. An online search will help you locate one if you’re having trouble and want a basic template for reference. This outline will help you to organize your research and understand what’s needed before beginning your polished plan.

5 – Keep Focused

Lastly, while you want to make sure you have a fantastic business plan to present to potential investors or partners, do not let your determination be swayed by perfection. In other words, no matter how many times you review your plan, know that you’ll likely always find something to tweak, but don’t let that cause you to lose sight of your goals and miss your opportunities. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be detailed and concise. Stay focused.

“Don’t wait until you think your business plan is perfectly polished and cannot possibly go any further in depth. Otherwise, chances are you will have missed your window of opportunity…” Forbes.com.

Overall, the most important rule to remember when creating a successful business plan is to do thorough research and keep plugging away at it until it’s finished. It all begins with your preparation, so get yourself prepared for success!