The mark of a business owner and entrepreneur is hours spent every day obsessing over the growth of your business.
There are plenty of ways to do that. More sales, obviously. Reduce costs, for sure. You might change your marketing message to attract new customers, move into a new vertical to capture a certain type of business, or develop a strategic partnership with another company. Hey, you might even pivot to a completely new industry! Those are all great, measurable tactics.
But it’s important to consider the unmeasurables: the little improvements to your business that can’t be quantified, but have an undeniable effect on your productivity and success.
Many businesses categorize office space as an expense. Well, as far as your accountant is concerned, an office is an expense, but you shouldn’t look at it that way from a strategic point of view.
Consider office space an investment. It’s not just a sign of growth. It can also be a cause.
Interaction and Collaboration are Easier in Person
We live in a world where communication is easy. You probably rely on tools like email, Slack, Skype or Trello to work with your team. There’s no doubt they give businesses plenty of flexibility. You can hire talent in another country and stay productive during travel or inclement weather.
But online tools aren’t perfect. There’s always something missing: The human element.
Collaborating with your team is far easier when everyone is in the same room. A majority of information is lost when we are forced to communicate through text or voice-only.
In 1971, psychologist Albert Mehrabian concluded that a significant component of all communication is nonverbal – especially pertaining to emotions. Mehrabian estimated that verbal communication only accounts for 7% of the information we’re trying to share when we communicate our feelings. Trying to pass emotion through your Slack channel is virtually impossible, no matter how adept you are with emojis. 🙂
“The beauty of communication is found in the nuance that’s only felt in face-to-face conversations,” says Mina Chang, CEO of humanitarian group Linking the World International. A lack of in-person communication can be damaging, she says, as team members “miss out on the reasoning behind decisions, making them less likely to engage. What’s more, it’s easier for them to feel less accountable. When making any kind of request, the probability of getting your desired answer is greater when you have a face-to-face meeting.”
According to a Cisco report, business leaders believe that in-person collaboration resolves conflicts (work and personal) and generates relationships for long-term success. Executives say that face-to-face meetings are important for project kick-offs, strategy sessions, coaching, crisis management, and contract agreements. (Check out this information for more on the study: The Power of In-Person.)
There’s no argument that the most effective teams are made of people who know each other well; people who spend a lot of time with one another. You and your team need to be emotionally invested in your company’s mission. That type of dedication requires solid relationships that just won’t form on Skype or Google Hangouts.
Plus, in-person communication is faster. Email and chat isn’t truly instant, and they’re both easy to ignore. A question across the table or check-in at the watercooler will keep your business moving.
Office Space Makes You Seem “Bigger”
Perception is everything, right? Your clients and customers want to partner with a business, not one guy working out of his spare bedroom or a remote team that only meets monthly at a Starbucks.
Every business tells a few white lies to make the company seem bigger than it really is. You probably referred to your company as “we” and “the team” when you were still a solo founder. Or maybe you excused yourself for “a big meeting” when there was no such item on your schedule. A lot of small companies even pay for a post office box just so mail isn’t sent to someone’s home address.
There is a percentage of customers who are comforted by the perception of size. Their anxiety is alleviated by the success of their partners. They want somewhere to visit. They want to see your name on something – a sign, a door, anything!
B2B strategy and marketing consultant Lisa Shepherd says, “Risk-averse buyers regard size and an established market presence as bywords for credibility and reliability.”
An office makes your clients feel stable, like they have put their trust in the right place. A business who has gone through the trouble of setting up their own place in the world is less likely to run away with their money. You could have millions of dollars in the bank and a library of intellectual property, but some people just won’t do business with you unless you have an office.
Furthermore, office space improves your employees’ perception of the company. An office is grounded. It makes the business tangible. They can say “Here is where I work.” When they step into their new office space for the first time, they’ll have a real understanding of how well the business is growing and a desire to keep themselves a part of it.
If you’re looking for more ways to make your small business seem bigger, check out Secret Entourage’s list: 50 Tips To Make Your Small Business Look Bigger.
Networking is No Joke
Have you ever wondered why similar businesses group together? Why is Silicon Valley a tech haven? Why do financial firms clamor for space on Wall Street?
It’s because we prefer to do business with people we know. We’ll even pay a premium to give business to our friends or someone proven.
John Swanciger, CEO of Manta (a small business advocate organization), says “New and aspiring business owners need to network to gather as much information about prospects, competitors and the industries they are targeting in order to make the strategic decisions that will set them up for success.”
Conferences and trade shows only take you so far. If you want to really meet the right people, you need to plant yourself in the midst of complementary businesses.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying you should move to the hotspot in your industry. That might be many states away and unfeasible. However, many parts of the country have business districts where you’ll find like-minded entrepreneurs who also want to grow their business.
You may not be within driving distance of your industry’s titans, but maybe the accountant down the hall will trade advice for lunch. Maybe you’ll hire the marketing agency upstairs, or merge with the development firm across the street. Introduce yourself in the area, make friends, and always steer the conversation towards what you do.
The possibilities are endless, you just need to meet people. You can’t do that from your home office.
Oh, but make sure you investigate the area well when you view potential office environments. Find out who works nearby and how they might help you in the future.
Over to You
Like I said before, office space boosts the unmeasurables. You can’t drop them into an equation, but an office makes your business credible, reliable and successful. Those feelings will resonate with other people (even subconsciously) to empower your business.
So what’s holding you back? Start your office space search today.