When should I skip the coffee shops as my office?
Congratulations on starting your own business! It’s both intimidating and invigorating to take the plunge away from a steady paycheck and into an endeavor that you can shape as you choose. Your results are limited only by your imagination and your willingness to work towards your vision of success. And you’re watching every penny, leveraging your home and free public spaces to keep expenses down, because, unlike with that paycheck, you just don’t know how much money you’ll make in a given period.
So when should you get out of the coffee shop and into a more professional setting?
When you make a presentation, either in-person or remotely.
The coffee shop may work when you need to go head down into work, but when you’re sharing something for an extended period of time, your setting needs to be more private, both for you and your fellow coffee-shop patrons. The guy at the next table didn’t get his mocha latte hoping to hear you pitch your latest prospective client, and you don’t know that the woman on the other side of you is keenly listening in because, while she’s taken a day off, she works for your competitor and is pitching that same client tomorrow. And coffee-shop wifi can be finicky – what kind of impression do you think a frozen screen makes? Do everyone a favor and rent a conference room with the technology to make it work flawlessly.
When you need to interview a job candidate or vendor.
The coffee shop is great for a casual networking conversation, but when you need to dig into competencies and skills and past performance you need a more private space. Asking someone to share their successes, their failures and their lessons learned while sitting in broad view of total strangers is not just insensitive, it is likely to undermine the conversation – the odds of getting completely candid answers goes down precipitously as the number of people who can eavesdrop goes up. So when you have a complex meeting with potentially sensitive questions, find a conference room or day office to rent for an hour to two.
When you’re working with confidential data.
But you already knew that. Even with a VPN (virtual private network), a coffee shop environment is just not safe. You need a secure, reliable high-speed connection for data work, along with a work space where you don’t need to worry about someone snapping shots of your screen over your shoulder. Instead of risking your clients’ information – and your next gig – find a co-working space where you can work comfortably with the knowledge you’re handling data responsibly.
So even if you’re not ready to move into a private office just yet, there will be times when you’ll need something more private than the coffee shop and more professional than your sitting room.
But where can you go?
The public library often has conference rooms for use, sometimes for free, sometimes not. Sometimes there is a time limit for use, particularly if it’s free. You will almost certainly need to reserve any room ahead of time, so plan appropriately.
Aggregators of space like Liquidspace or Davinci are one-stop shops to find conference room space or a day office in cities across the world. Their offers are standardized though, so if you need something specific or if it’s critical to ensure your technology is supported, then you’ll want to consider going directly to providers.
Nearly every city has local co-working locations where you can find quiet co-working lounges, conference rooms and day offices, along with helpful staff to show you around, introduce you to other members and show you how to operate the coffee machine and the meeting room tech. They are set up specifically for small business people and entrepreneurs, and most will be flexible to give you just what you need. Being your own boss is exciting, and while the coffee shop can be a valuable resource for you, it’s not suitable for every work situation.
Come by and talk to Office Evolution Overland Park, and let us help you do what you do best!