How to Score an Ace When Choosing Office Space?

Business Location

So you have to get a new office space? The decision isn’t easy. The space you choose can impact your business in many ways. It can affect your day-to-day business, employee morale and, importantly, your brand image.

Here are some considerations you should keep in mind before signing on the dotted line on your lease or sale deed.

The right location

The law of supply and demand might dictate the location. Striking the right balance between what is available and affordable and what you need is a challenge. Take time to find a location that is at least close to what you are looking for. Remember, your business will have to live with the location you choose for a long time.

What kind of a neighbourhood will you be located in? It’s not too difficult to find out if it is a good neighbourhood in which your employees can feel safe. Check out the amenities nearby. What about transport links – easy access to trains, buses and taxis? What about parking space? Are there places for lunch and to entertain clients nearby? Is there easy access to banks, pharmacies, shops? Another point to note is if the neighbourhood is considered trendy. Is it a favourite spot for start-ups and new businesses? This might well have a positive effect on how clients view your company.

Checking out the building

The building in which you plan to set up your office needs careful examination. Find out if the security is adequate or if you would need to hire additional security.  Most office buildings have a common reception area. Does the staff give good service? Don’t forget they are the ones who will create the first impression a client or visitor will have of your company.

Is the building well-maintained? A little research will pay dividends. Look around. Talk to existing tenants.  It’s also helpful to know the businesses other occupants are in. If the businesses are similar to yours, are there any competitors in the building? It makes sense to secure information. Inadvertent leaks are inevitable in such close surroundings. It’s also important to know how safe the building is after office hours, specially if your employees have to work late.

Making the most of available space

How does the space measure up to your current needs and those of the future?  Is there enough room? Don’t just make a visual assessment. Why not do a mock-up of a potential layout with newspaper taped together to represent desks, chairs, other furniture and equipment. An empty space can look deceptively large. Once you have this mock-up you’ll have a better sense of how much space you have and how to make best use of it for your needs.

While there may not be much of a choice in the matter, you should still determine if the layout will work for your business. Can the areas be easily divided? Is it conducive to an open office plan? Are there any irregularly shaped spaces that need to be factored into the design?

You should also find out how much flexibility you have to decorate and put your own stamp on the place. Will you have the freedom to make major changes? This is a good time to estimate the cost of re-doing the office space. In most cases, this can turn out to be quite substantial so budget for it remembering it always ends up costing more than you thought.

One thing many people miss out on is checking the acoustics. You may well discover that the office is noisier than you thought. Why not check this out at different times of the day? Also, do make a note of any building work in progress. You may find you’re signing up to live with noise and mess for a long time.

Choosing the right office space will have so many repercussions on your business. It’s well worth the time and expense to get it right.

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It’s  ‘Virtually’ Easy For Start-ups To Get Started

Starting a new business can be exciting but it’s also fraught with challenges. You have plans and ideas. But you may well find that putting them into operation in the real world isn’t easy. Getting an office space is one of the biggest hurdles you will face. Just this one element can soak up your budget like a sponge. But how can you conduct a business without a place to do it from?

There’s an affordable and brilliant answer to the problem. Go virtual. In other words, opt for a virtual office. This means having an office without actually having one. You don’t have to lease or buy actual office space to get that professional corporate image. You may be working from home or a garage that’s been made over but who’s to know? For all intents and purposes, you have a ‘real’ office.

Look at the many benefits that a virtual office affords. You have a corporate mailing address and all at once your image goes up several notches. You can put that address on your calling card and stationery – it speaks volumes for you.

You can create a professional aura with a host of facilities. A virtual office can give you a dedicated business line with a real-life assistant answering calls on your behalf. You get all your messages so there’s no chance of an important lead slipping by because there was no one to answer the phone. Equally unprofessional is to hear a voice calling out, “Dad, it’s for you.”

Business centers that offer the ‘virtual office’ option give members lounge facilities. They can meet clients and business associates in an elegant lounge. They have access to meeting rooms for formal discussions. Everything happens on a professional footing. If you use any of the business center’s services – such as secretarial or catering services – you just pay for the services you use. An important advantage is that the team running the business center has a good deal of experience and can guide start-ups avoid many pitfalls.

With a virtual office, you’ll also find that your productivity increases. When you don’t have the hassles of running an office, you can get a lot more done. You have the flexibility to choose your own working hours and follow your unique working style.

In keeping with the times, a virtual office also enables you to be more eco-friendly. No long commutes to the office saves on carbon emissions. Besides, those commutes every day sap your energy – and gas bills are no mean consideration specially when you are starting your business.

The financial benefits really add up.  A virtual office means you have seriously low overheads, can keep business operating costs low while developing a professional corporate image. You don’t have to invest in furniture and equipment. Just the infrastructure of running an office, staffing it and paying for continuous updates is expensive and there are a lot of hidden costs that can be avoided. Besides, running the office takes up valuable time which you should be spending on growing the business.

With a virtual office, you can project the image you want from Day One, without having to wait until you’ve saved up enough money to refurbish your ‘make-do’ office. You can be seen as professional and corporate, command higher prices for your work and also attract a more impressive roster of clients. All this adds to your self-confidence.

Start-ups have their passion and determination working from them. A virtual office provides the support they need specially at this crucial juncture, for their business to take off.

Posted in DBS, Entrepreneurship, Instant Office, Office tips, Start Up, Virtual Office | Leave a comment

How to be a successful freelancer?

How to be a successful freelancer

As a freelancer, you can view the world as a series of opportunities. On the plus side is a lot of freedom to plan your day but it also requires discipline. You are your own boss and you need to be good at making the right rules to succeed.

The first thing you need to do is make a marketing/business plan. Put everything on paper: what you want to achieve and the important issues and challenges you face. Once you see it all on paper, you will be able to think clearly and make decisions before you’ve taken the plunge. It will also help you get the help and support you need to meet your goals.

Freelancers are usually challenged economically. You may want to wait till the money comes rolling in to invest in your business. However, there are some things that need an infusion of capital for you to get going. Do the math carefully. You can use free software. If it’s really good and relevant to your business, go ahead and install it but don’t do it just because it’s free. You may also need to buy some premium tool that will make you more productive.

You need to brand yourself and that means creating an eye-catching logo. This should set you apart in your business and will also make you look more professional. Think about creating a blog or website. This is an excellent gateway to new business contacts. Use social media to communicate what you do and try and create a differentiator – what makes you different from your peers.

Get allies to spread the word about you formally or informally. Build relationships. By the way, it will reflect well on you if you can recommend others for a service that you don’t provide but which the client needs. You will find it pays in the long run.

Save. This is perhaps the most important advice to a freelancer. Most freelancers are not adept at handling finances and are vulnerable to changes in the marketplace. You could have one good month and another bad. You will need your savings to tide you over difficult times because bills still need to be paid.  Keep your finances tidy. If this is not your forte, get someone to handle your finances for you. It’s a wise decision and well worth the expense.

Keep working hours even when you are freelancing. Work when you are supposed to work and don’t let other things distract you. It’s equally important to know when to stop. You need free time to recover and replenish yourself.  Take good care of yourself. Remember, that you are your most important tool. Your business would come to a standstill if something happened to you. Exercise, see your doctor regularly and take time off for vacations.

Freelancers, specially when working from home seldom get out of the house. Make a conscious effort to get out of your home surroundings. Book meetings somewhere else, meet for lunch or work from a café.

An advantage freelancers have is their one-on-one relationship with the clients. You don’t have to go through a layer of others to reach your client. Make him or her feel they are your only client. Provide an extra service when you can. Ask for a feedback. If possible, reward them for their loyalty. Give a discount the second time around, for instance. Be humble, friendly and service-minded and you can be sure they will stay with you.

Businesses, big or small, appreciate a resource like a reliable, professional freelancer who delivers. Sometimes the deadline is tight and that’s when a freelancer can help by stepping in. It’s a service that will be appreciated and not easily forgotten. So be flexible, be available and, above all, be reliable.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Meetings, Office tips, Virtual Office, Younger Boss | Leave a comment

Creating Inspiring Workplaces

Creating Inspiring Workplaces

Imagine if work didn’t feel like work. Imagine if everyone wanted to work and no one really wanted to leave the office. Imagine a place where creativity thrives and everyone wants to do their best. This may not be a real-life scenario but it could well be. What every workplace needs is a generous infusion of inspiration. ‘Inspire’, as the dictionary says, is “to exert a stimulating or beneficial effect upon; to put thought or life in; to breathe life into…” And a workplace is, of course, the environment in which one works at one’s job. For too many people it is, alas, a source of stress, anxiety and even despair. So it’s important to create an inspiring workplace wherever it is located and whatever your business.

Creating an inspiring workplace is the sum of many things. One should start with an inspiring vision. It’s not the words in the vision statement that matter as much  as the idea behind the words that moves people forward with passion. In an inspiring workplace, the link between people’s jobs and a great inspiring vision are constantly reinforced.  This happens when everyone feels valued and connected, when people see and understand how their particular roles contribute to the greater purpose. This means keeping the vision alive in a meaningful way, communicating the vision and translating it into not just what you do but how you do things in the workplace.

An important part of creating an inspiring workplace is having inspiring values. Actions speak louder than words here. You can see if an organisation values its values by the way people behave – how they are valued. People coming first is a real indicator of an organisation with inspiring values.

Inspiring service is an important element. The organisation must foster a culture where everyone knows they count (everyone, including the peon and canteen staff).  Because everything everyone does ultimately impacts the customer. One aspect seldom considered is how leaders provide greater service not just to their customers but to their employees and how teams work together – the realisation that great teamwork is about providing great service to the rest of the team. This re-defines what service is all about because it permeates every level from customers down to every member of the organisation.

Inspiring creativity is the bedrock of an inspiring workplace. Creativity is the currency of success. And every business is in the ideas business. You need big ideas and small ideas. You need to foster more outlets for creativity. Allowing people to be creative and asking people for ideas is one of the top workplace motivators. In an inspiring workplace, the message employees should receive is, “We really value the way you think.”

An inspiring workplace should also be a place where work and fun go together. This lowers stress levels, boosts productivity and sparks creativity. The sounds of fun and laughter are an indicator that people are working well together. It’s not about work or fun but about work and fun.

Is creating an inspiring workplace worth the cost, time and energy? Imagine the cost of working in a less than inspiring workplace. Imagine the problems related to employee stress and absenteeism. Imagine the cost of losing unhappy customers. Imagine the cost of valuable employees quitting. Let’s not forget that an uninspiring workplace is usually filled with uninspired employees. So the answer is, “Yes, creating an inspiring workplace is worth all the time, money and energy you invest in it.”

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Good relationships at work

Good relationships at workYou spend a third of your life at work. What is your relationship with the people you spend so much time with? People who work well together achieve greater success together. When you enjoy working with your colleagues and look forward to interacting with them, everyone benefits.

Working with people with whom you have a great relationship, makes work more fun. Morale is high which leads to better productivity, which leads to better results. When people care about the people they work with, things get done faster.

Human beings are naturally social creatures. We crave friendship and positive interactions. So it makes sense that the better our relationships are at work, the happier and more productive we are going to be. Also, people are more likely to go along with changes that we want to implement and working together makes us more innovative and creative.

Good relationships give us freedom. Instead of spending time and energy overcoming the problems associated with negative relationships, we can instead focus on opportunities.

So, how can we build these good relationships? Here are some ideas:

Develop people skills Soft skills such as being able to collaborate, communicate and resolve conflicts can be developed if they don’t come naturally. They are extremely valuable in work situations. Have you noticed how some people just ‘click’ with others, whether at a party or at the office? Observe them and try to form ‘clicking’ relationships. They can be mutually beneficial.

Identify relationship needs What do we need from others and, importantly, what do they need from us?

Schedule time to build relationships We can pop into someone’s office during lunch, ask colleagues out for a quick cup of coffee. Little interactions help lay the foundation for a good relationship. We should try not to be sequestered in a corner and if we have a private office, make it a point not to keep the door shut.

Appreciate others Showing our appreciation and genuinely complimenting people around us, works wonders in building a close relationship at work.

Be positive Positivity is attractive and contagious. Avoid sending out those negative vibes.

Avoid gossip Stay away from gossip and office politics. They are major relationship killers.

Develop mutual respect When you respect people, you value their inputs and ideas and they value yours. Working together you can develop solutions based on collective insight, wisdom and creativity.

Be a ‘social chameleon Try to adapt your personality, behavior and attitude to fit the people around you. This will enable you to pick up subtle clues. Think about what the situation wants you to be and how you can tailor your responses to the situation.

Listen actively Most people don’t really listen to what others are saying. They hear them but pay little or no heed to what is being communicated. By not listening actively, we are likely to miss some important information.

Make the first move When we encounter negativity or even some hostility, we should make the first move and try to get to know the person better. Under the tough exterior is often a person who would like to reach out, too.

Manage boundaries A friendship can impact the relationship unless we are careful to manage boundaries, specially between people who are in different layers of the organisation. We should never allow the friendship to affect the work ethic.

Building and maintaining good working relationships will not only make us more engaged and committed to the organisation, it will also open doors to key projects and career advancements.

Those hours spent at work will be fun. We will be happy to get to work the next day.

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