There are a number of very good reasons why so many businesses start their journey in a managed workspace. Other names they go by include ‘growth hub’, ‘business support centre’, or ‘incubation/enterprise centre’ – but we like ‘The Business Village’. Here, we’re going to tell you why joining a community like ours can make establishing, growing and developing your business easier and a little less daunting.
Business centres, or managed workspaces are usually created with the aim of helping entrepreneurs to take those first steps in building a successful business. Starting a business is a big decision, there’s a lot to consider and even more to do. The budget is very important and getting your business onto a sustainable footing, as quickly as possible, is the key. Business premises can be very expensive, but when you join a business start-up centre, you get a professional presence at an affordable rate. You also get things like a manned reception area, telephone system and business-standard broadband, which can make a big difference. Here at The Business Village we already offer ultrafast connectivity with 100 – 300 Mbps down and matching upload speeds. It’s simple to upgrade to one of our specialist options.
Additional services can vary, but you will often find on-site business support, advice services and training opportunities, along with facilities such as meeting rooms and catering. Communal areas, such as cafés and break-out areas are fantastic places for getting to know other tenants and their businesses. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of taking space at The Business Village is that our out of town location enables us to have more than 300 free car parking spaces for our tenants and visitors, a huge advantage over city and town centre based locations.
You will also be signposted to services such as funding advice and help with things like business planning and any issues you may encounter, such as how to deal with bad debts or taking on your first employees.
Building your network as a new business owner is crucial. You get much better opportunities to do this within a managed workspace. There are often links with local business organisations, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Small Business. At the Business Village, we encourage our tenants to network, collaborate and do business with one another. We hold monthly events such as breakfast networking, marketing support and speakers who are experts in their field. It’s in our interest too, for tenants to thrive and grow.
Some centres stipulate that once a business has grown to a certain size, it must move out and make way for the next generation of entrepreneurs. We don’t have that view, because we think it’s important to also have the voice of experience; business owners who’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. Our longest-serving tenant has been with us for over thirty years, building and developing their business and moving into larger units and office space as they did so.
This is another advantage of managed workspaces. They offer the stability and security of established premises, with an element of flexibility that’s just not possible with long-term private leases. The Business Village has office space that varies from small start-up offices, to larger multiple unit spaces. There are business incubators that offer a flexible, communal workspace, where you can pay to rent a desk, use a computer and enjoy the facilities of an office, without being tied in to premises or regular rent payments.
If you feel that you’re ready to take the next step and move into The Business Village – or another managed workspace, such as the Digital Media Centre, there are a few things to consider and prepare. Here’s our list:
Some incubators are very focussed on a particular sector, such as digital or manufacturing. This is especially true in some areas of the country, such as the Midlands, where manufacturing is a key industry.
If you are in a niche market, think about what would be of most benefit. Would a sector or industry-specific workspace be better? Obviously, location and availability are factors that impact on your decisions here too.
Create your business plan. This is a very important document and will help you to keep focus. Nowadays, a business plan doesn’t need to be hundreds of pages long. Generally, if you can fit the important stuff on a couple of sides of A4, that’s sufficient.
With business development high on the list of priorities for both you and the centre, it’s worth investigating the business support options available. A clear business plan will help you to keep on track with your goals and enable you to access the most appropriate support.
You do need to be prepared for the step up in your business. If you’ve been working from home or a temporary space, you’ll feel the difference that having official business premises makes. As well as the excitement, there’s also a bit more pressure on you. This is especially true if you’re expanding at the same time.
If you need specialist equipment to fulfil your business activities, this is something you will discuss with the business centre quite early on. You’ll need to be sure the space is big enough and flexible enough for what you need to do there.
For business activities that use cloud computing or stream a lot of data, you’ll need to be sure that the broadband capability on offer is sufficient for your needs. Most business centres have high speed network access, but it’s always worth checking.
Think about what support you will need to grow and develop – not only in terms of your business, but your own skills too. You may find a good network of business mentors is on hand at the centre. There may even be specialist training and targeted ‘clinics’.
A good way to establish where your development areas lie, is to carry out a skills gap analysis. This will enable you to prioritise the skills that will have the most impact on your business.
This is often a real sticking point for many businesses in the early days. Consider what you need to develop and grow your business to a sustainable level and then to a profitable entity. If you need additional funding to achieve that growth, then being part of a business centre can be a huge help. Having access to expertise and support means that you can be signposted effectively, depending on where your business is now and where you’re targeted to be in your financial planning.
There are sometimes investment opportunities on site, with organisations that will help you to access the right kind of funding for you.
What you will definitely find at a business centre or managed workspace is a group of other entrepreneurs who have faced exactly the same issues you are experiencing. This can be an invaluable resource and is one of the main reasons for joining somewhere like The Business Village. Many of our tenants have ridden the highs and lows already and are happy to share their experiences with others. If you would like to find out more about joining us here at The Business Village, please contact Kevin Steel, explore our current availability or call on 01226 249590.