Choosing Your Office
Where should your office be? At home? In the business district? Near your competitors' offices? The answer isn't up to you — it's up to your clients.
Home business experts recommend that if you do choose to establish a home office, set aside a dedicated area and treat it as if it were ten miles away. Close the door during nonbusiness hours and turn off your computer. Otherwise, you may allow your business to manage your time instead of the other way around.
One of the business advantages that technology offers is the ability to work virtually from anywhere in the world. You can simultaneously talk on the phone to suppliers in Indonesia, e-mail clients in Toronto, and text your assistant in Denver — and you can do it all dressed in your pajamas. Many consultants get into this field and even select their specialty based on whether they can work from a home office.
The downside of working from a home office is learning to separate home and office. It requires that you not only set aside a specific area for an office, but also that you separate your life into work and no-work times. Otherwise, you'll be responding to business e-mail when you should be relaxing or enjoying family relationships.
Many consultants compromise by renting a small office that is near their home and/or their primary client's business office. This helps separate home and business while reducing potential commute time. Where could you rent a business office?
Near your clients' offices
Near a restaurant where you can easily lunch with prospects
Near an airport (if you fly frequently)
In a professional building that shares support staff
Another option is an SBA incubator. The Small Business Administration (
Remember that your consulting business's location should be selected for the convenience of your clients and prospects, not simply your commute. If your business is just starting up, the most convenient place for your clients may be near their current consulting service's location. Move in next door.
A small office in the same building as that of a major competitor may catch the eye of prospects. It also adds credentials to your business. “Yes, we're next door to J.P. Smart Consulting in the Yoko Building.” Additionally, use signs to attract attention to your office.
Some successful consulting services don't actually have an office. Personal consultants, especially, have the option of working at their client's location or a neutral location. They can manage communications with a portable laptop computer that they use wherever they are.
If your specialty allows you to not have a physical office, you still will want a mailing address. You can use a mailing service or your home address. A professional mailing address is preferred, especially if there's a chance that prospects or clients may show up unannounced. Many professional office buildings offer mail drop services at a low fee.