CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes” recently had an interesting segment on the long-term unemployed. Some of the individuals interviewed had been out of work for over two years. Living on savings, 401Ks and the charity of family and friends, they tried to keep on the job hunt. In order to make ends meet, some took low-level, low-paying jobs or started their own businesses.
There are college graduates, some with MBAs, who are competing for those low-level jobs with high school kids and displaced Baby Boomers. Others, not willing to go through the angst of a disappointing job search are looking at their skills and opening up their own businesses. While some, like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame make it big, many others are struggling. The Internet and digital technology allows anyone to start a business with little or no money from a basement or spare bedroom. That’s fine, but at some point, if you are successful, you’ll need to meet with clients, give a workshop, collaborate with vendors or just get out of the basement to save your sanity.
Office space costs money. So does equipment, phones, and receptionists. Even self-serve coffee and a case of bottled water add up. Fortunately, there are options for entrepreneurs who want to project a professional image without breaking the bank.
1. The Virtual Office Team. Instead of renting space for an office team, create a virtual office. Use sites like Dropbox or Googledocs to share files. On-screen chats from your Smartphone, Skype and GotoMeeting can hook up your team or conference in clients as well. Technology and the options for connection and sharing information changes almost daily. You can do just about anything with a laptop, printer and scanner.
2. Share office space. Regus is the top provider of virtual and shared office space, offering a variety of services at different price levels. Regus locations offer access to office and conference room space, telephone answering services, support services and a prestigious address to give your business more credibility. ThincSavannah, located in downtown Savannah, GA, offers a variety of options from shared space in open areas to cubicles and traditional office space. Copy machines, coffee service, and conference rooms are also provided. With both options, you have the benefit of professional space without the burden of leasing, furnishing and stocking your own office.
3. Collaboration. Instead of going it alone, you can team up with other entrepreneurs and share space and expenses. Partnering also eliminates the isolation and loneliness associated with starting a new business. I had a client who rented space from a shop owner with a similar business, giving her needed space for her studio and helping the owner with the monthly rent.
4. Student interns. We are fortunate in Savannah to have the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) with thousands of bright, talented, artistic and tech-savvy students who are looking for projects for classes and their portfolios. Student interns charge little or nothing for their expertise, and are up on the latest technologies, which can save time and money. Check out colleges, universities or tech schools in your area.
Whatever your situation or business idea, there are resources to help you start your business. There are many free sites and unlimited free, reliable information on the Internet on just about any aspect of starting and running an online business. It’s a viable option while you’re on a traditional job hunt, and just may be the beginning of a whole new career.
Have you found other resources for starting a business? Share them in the Comments section below.