We couldn’t say it better than Dag Nybo of the Austin Business Journal when he wrote “Not every startup needs to lease office space“.

A trend among businesses, especially new startups, is the need for flexibility, low risk and low overhead. One of the key considerations when we open or expand a business is whether we actually need space or just need an address or phone number. Leasing office space may be too much of a commitment and expense — and even unnecessary.

Working from home is the primary option for many new entrepreneurs. It’s the least costly and most convenient, and it does not involve a commercial lease. But working from home also has drawbacks, including an abundance of home-related distractions, social isolation and a lack of professional appearance.

The growing movement known as co-working meets multiple needs of fledgling entrepreneurs by providing a shared work environment. Co-workers have access to information technology and telecommunication services, workspace, a conference room, shared printers and a community of fellow co-workers. According to a recent survey on deskmag.com, 54 percent of all co-workers are freelancers. Almost 20 percent are entrepreneurs who employ others. As a hub for entrepreneurs and startups, Austin has seen a healthy growth of co-working facilities. The most visible are GoLab Austin, Soma Vida, CoSpace, Conjunctured and Link Coworking.

Executive suites, another option for entrepreneurs seeking a lean work space, provide a corporate address, office space, access to a conference room, built-in telecommunication and IT services, mail services, receptionist services and a professional support staff. Most executive suite providers in Austin also provide virtual offices. A virtual office is an executive suite without the dedicated office space. Virtual office users rent office space as needed.

Over the last three years, I have worked from home and at CoSpace in North Austin. Most recently, I moved my coaching workshops to the conference room space at The Corporate Office Center in downtown Austin, a provider of executive suites and virtual offices.

Just like every business owner, the key questions I have to answer before picking a business location are can I afford it, does it serve my clients and does it support my future professional growth?

A monthly co-working membership for a single person runs from $150 to $250, while a virtual office starts at $100 a month and runs up to $500 a month with all the bells and whistles. This is a fraction of the $2,500 per month a business owner may pay for a prime 1,200-square-foot office space without a receptionist, according to Greg Coy in his article “Virtual Offices Helping Small Businesses.”

I don’t normally need an office space to meet clients. I do need quality conference room access for my quarterly client workshops. I was surprised to discover that downtown office space in a beautiful location facing Lady Bird Lake could be so affordable.

A location that can support business growth is important for many business owners. Co-working options are designed to support our growth. I will continue to host workshops at the Corporate Office Centers, but I will also consider adding a virtual office in 2012.

Leasing a space the same day we create or expand our businesses isn’t always prudent. There are plenty of temporary and permanent options to consider. Whether we need an office space for a new sales team in another city or a virtual office space for our team of one, it makes sense to consider co-working, corporate suites, virtual offices as well as a traditional lease.

Dag Nybo is owner of The Growth Coach in Austin.

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