by Jessica Thiefels, owner of Honest Body Fitness
Wow, your first office — that’s exciting! Now comes the work of buying what you need, setting up the space, and deciding what you need and what you can get away with adding later on.
As you navigate the world of being a business owner with an office space, keep these tips in mind – they’ll help you save money, boost security, prepare for your first few employees and more:
Assess the Cost.
While you’ve likely already done some budget work to determine what you can afford for your monthly rent, you should also consider the price of heating, air and utilities, a cleaning service and your Internet Service Provider.
According to a survey from Priceonomics, the median price of office space among startups is $6,100. Remember, however, that the location can influence the price. While you may have always dreamed of having an office overlooking the water, this type of office space will be much more expensive than one without the ocean or lake view. “You may have to make some compromises here, taking into consideration that you will probably be competing with other employers in the area” according to Lucy Wayment of startups.co. “An ideal situation is to find a central location that’s easy to commute to.”
Determine the Essentials.
Setting up your own space is exciting, you get to call the shots and decide what goes where. As a result, it’s easy to overspend on furniture and office supplies. To avoid spending too much, make a list of the essential items you need. This should include space for employees (desk and chairs), computers, software, printers, a phone system, mailing materials, and basic office supplies like stationery, staplers, etc.
You may want to hang artwork or outfit your office with colorful furniture, but are these really must-have items, right now? You can always add more to boost your office aesthetic, but be smart and start with the essentials.
Check for Deals on Tech.
Technology items like computers, printers and phone systems can be costly. While these are necessary items to run your business, they don’t need to be purchased at full price. If you plan ahead and do your research, you can shop around for deals instead of settling for the first price you see. Here are a few ways to find savings:
- Check online for promo codes and coupons: “Online discounts are most valuable in the technology sector, with larger discounts available the higher the price tag. The best coupon savings can be made on laptops and PC’s; with a small amount of research you can save around 10% on the original price,” advises Marco Piu, General Manager of Couponbox.com.
- Wholesale: When buying bulk, wholesale is always a good way to go. You can often get a much better per-unit price that leads to significant cost savings.
- Used: Many computer repair shops and tech store sell used products at a steep discount. There are many online retailers that sell used tech products as well as some major chains, like Amazon and Best Buy. Always double check that the products you want to buy are Certified Pre-Owned to ensure you’re getting a high-quality product.
Choose Your Floor Plan.
The size of your space will influence your floor plan, and the way you setup your office can have a significant impact on how your team performs. First, remember to determine your floor plan before you buy furniture so you will know exactly what you need. Fit Small Business suggests three different floor plan types:
- An Open Plan makes the most of space, but at the expense of privacy and personal storage.
- A Closed Plan offers more personal space, but is less collaborative and won’t fit as many seats.
- A Modular Workstation Plan (or Cluster Workstation) is a compromise between these two setups. With desks grouped in small clusters, employees get more privacy, yet can still collaborate amongst their group.
Don’t Pinch Pennies for IT.
While most of these tips have been about saving money, one place where you don’t want to cut corners is with your Internet and IT services. You need a safe, secure network to run your business and interact with clients and customers and you need to protect your customers’ information as well.
“Smaller companies are attractive because they tend to have weaker online security,” according to John Brandon from Inc. “They’re also doing more business than ever online via cloud services that don’t use strong encryption technology. To a hacker, that translates into reams of sensitive data behind a door with an easy lock to pick.”
Take the guesswork out and hire an IT company. They can make sure everything is up and running properly and you will be able to contact them if anything goes wrong.
Install a Security System.
Now that we’ve talked about online security, don’t forget about office security. You need to take appropriate measures to protect your office space and employees. Install a wireless security system, if there’s not already one included with your office space.
Wireless systems are inexpensive and you can customize them to your needs. “Providing the same security as a professional alarm setup for a fraction of the price, a wireless alarm system can be added to as you see fit,” according to experts from The Home Security Superstore. “Mix and match components allow you to secure the doors, windows, gates, and entryways you’re most concerned about and to change your system when you need.”
With a wireless system, you don’t need to pay for installation or monthly service fees. It’s a great way to increase security in your office and protect your investment.
Don’t Forget About the Extras.
Now that you’ve taken care of the essentials, don’t forget about the extra items you need to make sure your employees are comfortable. Does your office space have a kitchen? If so, you’ll need a fridge, microwave and water cooler. Do you need a coffee pot? You may also want to stock your cabinets with some snacks. Again, these items aren’t essential, but they may come in handy when you’re putting in long hours at the office. Make sure you factor these in when you calculate your costs and budget.
Setting up an office space is exciting but it can also be overwhelming. If you make a plan, focus on the essentials and stick to your budget, you can reduce stress and create a successful space. Remember, you can always update your layout and add items; set your priorities and focus on the most important things, first.
Jessica Thiefels, owner of Honest Body Fitness, has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last six years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s worked for businesses both big and small, including a 12-person education startup and well-known organizations like Business.com and Active.com.