FINDING the right environment to set up your business in is down to more than just having the correct facilities and infrastructure, it’s also about culture.
Just as we as entrepreneurs will define the culture of our own business internally by writing a company ethos, we should also consider the culture that surrounds our business – what will support you and cultivate growth?
The new office market landscape means flexible working terms and spaces are much more readily available. Entrepreneurs are often attracted to working in buildings that are full of other same-sector businesses, however in my opinion is this isn’t this most valuable environment to surround yourself in.
All too often I have seen some fantastic newly-designed and built business centres that have been filled with sector-specific companies. This can cut you off from opportunities outside your industry, not to mention give your competitors an insight into your business activity and who your clients are.
Certain markets can also be unpredictable – the UK has only just officially made it out of the recession so sector-specific economic downturns aren’t unheard of. Therefore, from a landlord’s point of view, to rely solely on one industry in their building is a very risky strategy.
If you spot a business centre you like, you need to consider what the companies that are already in the building do to support one another. Do they ever have a get-together? Do they even know one another?
My advice for start-ups looking to join a business centre has always been to stay open-minded. Somewhere you may not at first consider to be in line with your culture could actually work in your favour, and one that on the surface seems to be a perfect match may mean having to work very protectively. Look a little closer, and speak to the people who are already working there.
As a start-up or SME you will want to be amongst a vibrant mix of companies from completely different sectors and of different sizes all under one roof.
Even better are the business centres that actively promote networking within the building by holding regular meet-and-greets. As a landlord myself, I am forever introducing my tenants to one another – this often happens unofficially in communal areas of the building – an opportunity you wouldn’t have at all if you had a private office or worked from home.
Once you have made the move, make time to stop by neighbours for a cup of tea, you never know who their contacts might be and what opportunities may lie just outside your door.
Lynn Gate is managing director of The Office Company in Gateshead