Novel Coworking’s Response to COVID-19
What is a Virtual Assistant and How Do You Manage One?

What is a Virtual Assistant and How Do You Manage One?

What is a virtual assistant?

So what does a virtual assistant do? A virtual assistant is an independent contractor that offers administrative services to a company remotely. The term “virtual assistant” emerged in the 90s to describe the burgeoning trend of virtual work— thanks to major technological innovations, workers could begin sharing documents and taking important business calls from outside their offices.

Virtual assistants have surged in popularity over the last few decades due to the evolving nature of business. Many companies are opting to save money on large office spaces and bloated teams, and instead are investing in flexible work arrangements and schedules. The result is a more agile and modern approach to team organization and project management.

 

Types of VAs

Virtual assistants come with different skills and specializations. Each one can help you with a specific function or department of your business. Below are just a few examples of the different types of virtual assistants available:

1. Bookkeeper – Great with accounting and tracking budgets for various projects.
2. Administrator – Schedules meetings, handles communication between executives and outside entities.
3. Scribe – Types notes during meetings or presentations.
4. Social media manager – Handles the company’s various social accounts.
5. Developer – Assists in the development of an app or website.
6. Designer – Designs infographics, logos, flyers, and other visual collateral.
7. Analyst – Researches, collects and analyzes valuable business data.

The role of a virtual assistant can also change depending on the business. Some companies may even hire virtual assistants that handle multiple responsibilities at once.

 

4 benefits of having a VA

 

Reduce operating costs

Virtual assistants can provide inexpensive yet invaluable services to your company, allowing your operations to reduce costs. For example, a company may choose to hire a data analyst to evaluate the performance of a recent billboard campaign. The analyst may provide vital insights that affect the success of future billboard campaigns, more than covering the initial costs of hiring a virtual assistant.

 

Save time on initiatives and projects

Many of the tasks undertaken by virtual assistants tend to be repetitive, such as taking notes or bookkeeping. These tasks can take away from more pressing issues, such as client meetings or lead generation. When leaders delegate time-consuming tasks to virtual assistants, they can focus on the more important tasks on their agenda.

 

Greater work efficiency

Leaders aren’t the only ones that benefit— other team members also have a lot on their plate and could always use help. Social media managers, for instance, are most effective when they can assign writing, research, or graphic design to virtual assistants, allowing them to focus on editing and delivery.

 

A healthier, more flexible work environment

Remote work has the potential to transform the culture of your company. Letting your team members work from wherever they are can have a tremendous impact on employee wellness. Consider a pregnant mother needing some time away from the office or a digital native that prefers working on the go. Both of these employees can accomplish their work like anyone else, but the ability to remote work means they can do so at their convenience.

 

5 ways to use a VA to grow your business

 

Data entry

Finance, accounting, and data firms rely on carefully organized information, whether it’s a balance sheet or the results of a large-scale study. While the act of data entry is relatively simple, it can be monotonous, particularly if your skills are better applied elsewhere. Having a dedicated virtual assistant to focus on data entry can free up your schedule while developing a more accurate means of data collection.

 

Customer service

According to Microsoft, 96% of consumers say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand. Customer service, despite its necessity in modern business, continues to be an afterthought for many organizations. As a result, potential leads and loyal customers turn on a brand in a matter of seconds, after just one negative experience. Having a dedicated person or team to cater to these one-off incidents can significantly impact a brand’s lasting reputation.

 

Administrative tasks

Scheduling meetings, following up on email communications, maintaining records… these are tasks simple enough that they can be done by just about anyone. But to do them well, it’s best to hire someone that specializes in this type of work. When your team doesn’t have to worry about administrative work, they are free to focus on the work they specialize in.

 

Sales outreach

Sales are vital to the lifeblood of a business, but the actual sales outreach part can be a major time investment. Many virtual assistants are trained to handle cold calling, email campaigns, and other outreach efforts. Since much of the act of outreach can be done over the phone or on a laptop, it can be the perfect job for a virtual assistant.

 

Social media management

Despite the widespread use of social media in today’s society, many business leaders still fail to see its value in marketing. Partly because they do not want to invest their time or money into a practice they do not fully understand. A virtual assistant dedicated to social media can make all the difference—ensuring your company maintains an online presence while creating a two-way channel for loyal customers.

 

How much does a VA cost?

Virtual assistant fees can vary greatly depending on several factors, including type and frequency of work, level of professional experience, country of origin, and technical expertise needed. Below are example rates for different types of virtual assistants.

 

Administrative Professional, Data Entry

Description: Proofreading, data entry, clerical work, research, Excel, etc.
Average Hourly Rate: $12 – 20
Average Monthly Fee (20 hrs/wk): $960 – 1,600
Average Monthly Fee (40 hrs/wk): $1,920 – 3,200

 

Marketing VA, Customer Service, Accounting Support

Description: Copywriting, budgets/accounting, marketing support, customer support, CRM software experience, email marketing, social media marketing; software like PowerPoint, Quickbooks, Salesforce, WordPress, etc.
Average Hourly Rate: $20 – 35+
Average Monthly Fee (20 hrs/wk): $1,600 – 2,800
Average Monthly Fee (40 hrs/wk): $3,200 – 5,600

 

Advanced VA, Consultant, Executive Assistant

Description: Business consulting, content management, project management, advanced IT/site management, web development, and server management
Average Hourly Rate: $38 – 50
Average Monthly Fee (20 hrs/wk): $3,040 – 4,000
Average Monthly Fee (40 hrs/wk): $6,080 – 8,000

Source: Upwork, freelancers in North America with over 1,000 hours and 90% success rate.

 

Where can you find a VA?

Now that you know why to get a virtual assistant and how much it might cost, it’s time to find one. Just like searching for any other new hire, you have to look in several places.

 

Upwork

With over 12 million freelancers around the world, Upwork has built a reputation as the largest freelance marketplace in the world. With that status, however, comes a few challenges. For one, Upwork has a notorious support system that fails to assist both freelancers and companies in the event of a contract breach. Companies on Upwork will also have to deal with a tricky algorithm that prioritizes high paying jobs. Nevertheless, you won’t find a more substantial pool of talent to source your next virtual assistant. We recommend carefully reviewing their profile and work history before contracting a VA to work.

 

Fiverr

Based in Tel-Aviv, Fiverr is another freelance platform that has become a household name. Fiverr freelancers offer a host of services, including website design, translation, copywriting, SEO, data entry, and much more. The platform is frequently used by companies like Facebook, Google, MIT, Netflix, and PayPal. Unlike Upwork, Fiverr services are charged as flat fees, starting at $5 up to several thousand.

 

Social media

You’d be surprised how many assistants you can find on LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s Profinder works similarly to Upwork or Fiverr: list the service that you want, hash out the details (one-time project or ongoing, deadlines), and receive up to five free offers from on-demand professionals. Social media groups on Facebook and LinkedIn are also effective ways to find virtual assistants with specific talents.

 

VA agency

Working with an agency is one of the quickest, most efficient, and reliable means of connecting with a virtual assistant. Places like Zirtual and VA Networking offer easy access to countless skilled assistants and have even been featured on Entrepreneur, StartupNation, Inc., and Reader’s Digest. Many VA agencies also provide additional resources, training, and coaching for these freelancers, so they will likely be more prepared and better fits for the job than someone you may find elsewhere.

 

How to hire and manage a VA

 

Set expectations from the start

Always start with the scope of the project and the responsibilities expected of the virtual assistant. How much time should the project take? How will the VA be paid? What is considered in-scope, and what is a stretch goal? These are the types of questions you want to be asking yourself because it is very likely your virtual assistant will ask once hired. That’s why it’s crucial to provide clear guidelines and process documents such as an SOW (Scope of Work) to set the scope and responsibilities; this prevents any confusion and enhances the likelihood of success.

 

Define a daily schedule

Once all the contracts are signed, the next step is to define a consistent schedule for work or checking in. Because virtual assistants are not physically present in the office, it can be challenging to ensure they stay on task or communicate clearly. Speak with the virtual assistant about their availability, and find overlaps between your company schedule and their schedule. If they live overseas, you’ll also have to take the time difference into account.

 

Define a budget

One of the most compelling reasons to hire a virtual assistant is cost—virtual assistants are by far more affordable than full-time hires. But without a budget, you can easily spend more than you intend to. In setting up a project for a VA, create estimates for how long each task should take, and accordingly, how much each task will cost based on the VA’s rate. Be as upfront as possible about your budget, and you can avoid potential fallouts or disagreements regarding compensation.

 

Track time and tasks

Accountability is key when it comes to remote work. Nothing stops a virtual assistant from claiming to have worked on something when they haven’t, or conversely, spending hours on a project but not having it tracked. While self-tracking is based on a code of honor, it’s still an effective way to keep tabs on project completion and overall workload. Use project management apps like Mavenlink, Asana, or Basecamp to evaluate the overall progress and efficiency of your virtual assistants.

 

Provide useful performance feedback

To truly support and push your virtual assistants to improve, provide them with monthly or even quarterly reports; this can be as simple as a quick one-on-one conversation, but it is most important to address the greatest strengths and opportunities for improvement. Your virtual assistant will appreciate the honesty and repay the gesture through their efforts.

Want to learn more tips on managing remote workers? Visit our article on best practices.

Virtual Assistant Infographic

Source: OVA Virtual

Virtual assistants are more than just remote workers. They can form the backbone of your business even as you work on other tasks. Their work may not always impact the bottom line directly. Still, their presence can be felt by everyone on the team, particularly when they can shift their focus from more repetitive tasks (such as social media or data entry) to other priorities. Give them the proper goals and guidance, and virtual assistants can genuinely transform the way your team operates.

The benefits of an executive office suite

The benefits of an executive office suite

Are you in the market for a new office? Then you may be wondering what the difference is between an executive suite and a traditional office space. This week’s blog post will explore why executive suites are a great option for startups that require a collaborative environment and corporations looking to branch into new cities. 

 

What is an executive suite?

An executive suite is a collection of shared offices that is used by executives or leadership teams. Executive offices are also frequently referred to as a type of serviced office. Serviced offices are similar to traditional offices or office buildings, but they are furnished, equipped, and managed by another company. 

Entrepreneur’s Small Business Encyclopedia defines executive office suites as, “Shared offices with services provided by a management firm.” Novel Coworking’s office suites, for example, provide access to communal lounge areas, kitchenettes, conference rooms, business services, mail service, and more. 

Featured above is a Smart Suite from Novel Coworking Superior in Chicago

 

What is the difference between an executive suite and office space?

The key difference between executive offices and conventional office space is that executive suites provide added features that are not listed in a traditional lease. Executive suites often include:

Fully furnished – Move-in ready offices allow teams to cut back on furniture and moving costs, while also minimizing startup time. This is a great option for teams who need to transition into their new space quickly. 

Amenity-rich – Unlike traditional office space, executive suites include amenities such as coffee, wi-fi, snacks, and more. Amenities not only provide value to employees, but also save on costs associated with running an office. 

Business services – Management teams for executive suites provide business services such as mail delivery, building management, and printing capabilities. 

Communal spaces – The community environment of an executive suite is a large part of what distinguishes it from a traditional office space. The provided conference rooms and collaborative  environments are great for developing a company’s brand and community. 

 

What are the benefits of renting an executive suite?

While traditional office spaces may hold their own appeal, executive suites have a number of clear advantages:

Affordability – The office should not only provide a great place to work, but it should also be affordable. The savings associated with an executive office suite make it an attractive option for business owners.

Location – Executive office suites can make renting an office space in a major city much more practical. Novel Coworking locations can be found in key business districts across the U.S.

Flexibility – Lease terms for executive office suites range from monthly to half-year agreements, allowing for greater flexibility and future growth opportunities. 

Networking – These vibrant communities include lunch n’ learns, happy hours, and other networking events. Networking opportunities foster richer connections than a conventional office space.

Support – By providing a supportive team, executive office suites are able to deliver additional value to clients. The Novel Coworking team helps to shape lively communities and enrich client experiences. 

“I love supporting our client’s business and watching their story unfold. Just like every story, there is a beginning, middle and end— theirs begins at Novel.” – Kelsey Punsalan, Community Manager at Novel Coworking Gaslamp.

 

Who can benefit from renting an executive suite?

The office suites at Novel Coworking can accomodate 10 to 500 person teams, making them a great fit for a variety of businesses. Executive offices can benefit publicly-traded companies, satellite offices, and venture-funded startups. 

Flexible leases and customizable offices allow for huge growth opportunities. Novel Coworking client Athena Bitcoin started with a small private office at Novel Coworking’s Katy Building in Dallas, then added a modest office suite at Novel Coworking’s Wacker building in Chicago. After another year of amazing growth, they added a second customized suite at the same location complete with original murals, a fully equipped kitchen, and fantastic views of the Chicago River. 

Novel Coworking client Athena Bitcoin started in a small private office and grew into a large, customized suite.

 

Athena Bitcoin‘s customized suite.

 

How much do executive suites cost?

Finding a productive and collaborative workspace is a major step for any business. Not only should the office provide a great place to work, but it should also be affordable. 

When deciding between a traditional office and an executive suite, business owners should compare the cost of rent with the cost of services and amenities. It’s also important to consider the location and how it reflects upon the business. Is the office easily accessible to key clients and partners? 

Where can you find an executive suite that fits your business goals? Novel Coworking provides office suites in the heart of major cities across the U.S. at an affordable and inclusive rate. The Novel Coworking SmartSuites™ start at $2,999 per month and offer between 800 to 11,000 square feet. 

 

Visit our blog for more tips on finding an office space that’s right for your business. To learn more about Novel Coworking’s office suites, visit our Plans and Pricing page. 

How to Organize a Hackathon

How to Organize a Hackathon

A hackathon is an event, often hosted by a tech company, where programmers and technology professionals form teams to collaborate on a project. These teams are able to invent new solutions to recurring problems. This week’s blog post will explore how to organize a hackathon and how it can benefit a brand.

 

What is the purpose of a hackathon?

Hackathons provide a collaborative space for innovative minds to combine creativity with technology. According to Dave Fontenot, editor of Hackathons Anonymous, hackathons create an environment for problem solvers to build a website, mobile app, or hardware hack with the goal of starting from scratch and ending with a prototype. These events typically last between 24 to 48 hours.

 

What is an internal hackathon?

An internal hackathon, also known as a corporate hackathon, is conducted by a specific brand for its employees. This allows an organization to promote collaboration and engagement among different departments while crowdsourcing ideas. Internal hackathons also allow employees from non-technical backgrounds to provide their perspective which can lead to innovative problem solving.

Hackathons happen to be one of Facebook’s oldest traditions– in fact, the “Like” button was the result of a company hackathon!

 

Why would you want to run a hackathon?

In addition to solving the problems, hackathons create several benefits for brands, including team building and recruitment opportunities. Below are a few reasons to run a hackathon.

Technology Innovation – Hackathons provide a cost-effective way to explore new ideas and take risks. By inviting diverse perspectives and setting a strict time limit, these events generate a productive and creative atmosphere. Participants translate their lofty visions into innovative solutions.

Community Building – Every industry in our modern world is impacted by technology. This makes it increasingly important to create space for entrepreneurs, tech experts, and industry leaders to collaborate and solve problems together with a focus on technology. Plus, it’s a great way to boost motivation for current employees.

Brand Recognition – Hosting a hackathon can increase brand awareness in the tech community. It can also improve brand perception and generate positive press about your business.

Developer Engagement – Hackathons establish communication channels between developers and tech users. This provides a feedback loop that makes solutions all the more valuable.  

Recruitment Opportunity – It can be difficult to find the right developers and data scientists for your team. Hackathons allow brands to witness teams in action and build a positive reputation with tech experts.

 

What do you need for a hackathon?

The first step to running a successful hackathon is to attend a few of them and understand how they operate. Here are a few key considerations to help brands run successful hackathons:

Theme – What problem does the brand want to solve? A few themes might include education, non-profits, health, transportation, energy, robotics, and many more. Here is a list of hackathons by theme.

Time – Preparing a hackathon can take two to six weeks to plan. How many people will be in attendance, what activities will be included, and what’s the scale of the event? No matter how much time you estimate, be sure to add additional time for unexpected delays or trouble shooting.

Sponsors – Events are expensive. Consider securing sponsors who can help pay for the event. Tiered sponsorship can help to attract a variety of supporters at different price points.

Venue – Choose a space that is accessible and has plenty of space for attendees to work. If attendees are working long hours, it’s important that the space is comfortable. The venue should include a large space for the kickoff and closing of the event, as well as break out rooms for teams to work. Consider where your attendees are located and how to manage parking.

Novel Coworking might be a great option for your next hackathon! Learn more about planning an event in a coworking space here.

Website – How will attendees sign up for the event? It’s important to have an accessible landing page to display information and provide a place to register. Be sure to promote the website on social media and create a Facebook event page.

Participants – First, reach out to the brand’s network. If the brand is interested in hosting a hackathon, it’s likely that they already have people in their community who would be interested in attending. Next, reach out to tech influencers and media professionals who write about the tech industry. Social media pages and groups can be especially useful for finding participants.

Equipment – Create a list of items that the venue may not provide. Some examples might include tables, chairs, power strips, cables, monitors, etc.

Food and Drink – Attendees will be working hard for long hours. It’s important to provide food options with dietary restrictions taken into consideration.

Judges – Decide who will determine the winner(s). Try to choose known industry leaders, sponsors, and organizers when possible. Be sure to determine the judging criteria ahead of time and provide clarity to attendees.

Prizes – What unique offerings can the brand provide? Try to offer unique prizes that show gratitude to the participants for their hard work.

 

Organizing a hackathon presents a great opportunity to network with other tech professionals and creative problem solvers. Looking for more opportunities to network with like-minded coworkers in a collaborative work environment? Visit Novelcoworking.com and book a tour today!

Building an Inclusive Workplace

Building an Inclusive Workplace

Many modern businesses have embraced the concept that diversity and inclusion is beneficial from both a business standpoint and a value perspective. However, implementing these values and measuring the outcome can be a challenge. This week’s blog post will explore how leadership teams can continue to grow their diversity and inclusion efforts.

 

What is an inclusive workplace?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines inclusion as, “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.”

In other words, inclusion in the workplace means empowering employees from a variety of backgrounds with a sense of belonging and community. Consider the following key questions:

  • – Can employees bring their “whole selves” to work?
    – Can employees voice diverse points of view?
    – Who is on the company’s leadership team?
    – What resources and opportunities are available to each team member?

 

Benefits of an inclusive workplace

According to research by Deloitte, organizations with inclusive cultures are six times more likely to be innovative and twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets.

“Our research demonstrates that inclusive talent practices drive measurable and predictable business outcomes,” said Stacia Sherman Garr, vice president, talent and workforce research leader, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “After two years of study, we conclude that these business outcomes are possible for all companies – but only with a change in focus. The research shows that CEOs and business leaders should own the strategy, and the entire organization should embed and use inclusive talent practices.”

Additionally, workplaces that value diversity and inclusion allow employees to be themselves, share problems, make mistakes, and contribute ideas.

 

How do you create an inclusive workplace?

Move beyond diversity. Diversity refers to who is in the room, who is hired, and what groups are represented. Inclusion, however, refers to providing opportunities, resources, and community to everyone on the team.

Implement multiple forms of diversity. An inclusive workplace should be prepared for multiple dimensions of diversity. Here are a few examples: race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, personality, socioeconomic status, and education level.

Provide resources and opportunities. Empower employees by providing opportunities for advancement. This includes creating space for everyone to bring their whole selves to work, as well as providing mentorship to everyone on the team.

Drive accountability. Companies should focus on strategic measurements to track the impact of their inclusion practices. Senior leadership should discuss achievements and areas of improvement regularly with the team.

Companies looking to further develop their inclusion strategy can look to Novel Coworking client Holistic. Holistic helps companies build diverse, inclusive, vibrant workforces by using data and analysis to attract, retain, inspire, and motivate top talent.

 

The 6 C’s of inclusive leadership

The benefits of a diverse and inclusive company culture are clear, but what does it mean to be an inclusive leader? According to Deloitte, there are 6 attributes required for inclusive leadership.

Commitment – Developing an inclusive work environment can be challenging and requires resources. Inclusive leaders are committed to the process and understand the importance of diversity from both a business standpoint and a personal value system.

Courage – Inclusive leaders are required to speak up and challenge the status quo, while also remaining humble and reviewing their own weaknesses. This vulnerability requires courage.

Cognizance – Speaking of owning weaknesses, inclusive leadership means taking a close look at unconscious bias. Leaders should be mindful of both personal and organizational bias, ensuring a positive work environment for everyone.

Curiosity – Leaders who have an open mind and a willingness to learn about other people’s experiences will be better suited to support an inclusive work culture. If a leader isn’t curious, they can’t change.

Cultural Intelligence – An understanding of various cultures is helpful, but it may be more important for inclusive leaders to recognize how their own culture impacts their worldview. This means paying close attention and avoiding cultural stereotypes.

Collaboration – Empowering individuals and diverse teams is essential for inclusive leadership. Individuals should feel comfortable sharing their diverse perspectives, which will then enhance the team as a whole. Learn more about collaborative workspaces here.

 

Novel Coworking offices offer a collaborative environment with business owners from a multitude of diverse backgrounds. Plus, Novel Coworking provides amenities such as gender neutral bathrooms and mother’s rooms to support inclusive practices. Book a tour today to learn more.

Why is Storytelling Important for Brands?

Why is Storytelling Important for Brands?

As a company, Novel Coworking has grown from one to 31 locations nationwide, and we’ve come to realize that our narrative isn’t just our own — it’s comprised of the thousands of unique stories of our clients.

But how do our clients tell their own stories? This week’s blog post explores why storytelling is important for brands and how to share effective narratives.

 

What is brand storytelling?

Everyone is familiar with storytelling through books, television, and art, but what does it mean for your brand?

Brand storytelling builds awareness, engagement, and relationships with audiences by leveraging relatability. It encompasses more than the messages sent by the brand itself. The story includes facts, feelings, and interpretations which become messages shared by both the brand and the public.

According to Small Business Trends, brand storytelling combines:
– Who you are
– What you do
– How you solve problems
– How you engage and contribute

 

How is storytelling related to content marketing?

While brand storytelling more broadly refers to both intentional and unintentional messages sent by a brand, content marketing focuses on materials published by the brand itself. Content marketing can include blogs, videos, newsletters, and social media posts.

 

Why is storytelling so important?

Quality brand stories inspire trust and foster engagement. Below are three key benefits of brand storytelling.

 

Stand out from the crowd

Attention is the new currency. Brands are producing endless streams of content in order to compete for brief seconds of consumer attention. While the internet has made marketing more accessible, it has also made it more difficult to stand out from the crowd.

Instead of focusing exclusively on statistics and testimonials, brands can use storytelling to make their content memorable and relatable. The best stories provoke an emotional response from audiences. Brand stories can include history, challenges, successes, and value propositions. Stories make a brand unique and difficult to replicate.

 

Attract the right audience

By using stories to create a deep emotional connection, brands can turn one-time customers into brand advocates. How does a brand build these lasting relationships? It starts conversations, builds engagement, and asks audiences to take part in the story. One of the best ways to foster a digital community is by providing emotional value — and that’s how storytelling can help. What emotions, values, and ideas can you offer your audience?

 

Make your brand more human

Consumers want to support brands that are making a positive impact on the world. Storytelling is a great way to share a brand’s mission and connect with audiences on a human level. According to Harvard Business Review, “There is a direct link between empathy and commercial success.” Use storytelling to inspire audiences to share their support.

 

How can you tell better stories for your business?

Draw on emotion – When crafting a story it’s important to consider what emotions should be conveyed and what anecdotes support that emotion.

Focus on authenticity – Decide what makes the brand authentic and then be consistent. Consumers will disengage if a brand does not live their values and consistently project authentic messaging.

Make it relatable – What problem is your core audience facing and how can the brand relate? What concerns or tensions can be addressed through the story? By relating on a human level and providing solutions, the brand can ingrain itself into the lives of viewers and readers.

Identify core values – The brand and its audiences should align with a few non-negotiable beliefs. Sharing these value systems will help to connect the brand to consumers.

 

How to measure storytelling success

Storytelling is not always about an immediate financial gain. One of the benefits of telling great brand stories is that the brand becomes more human, so the measure of success should examine how audiences are relating to the material. Consider the following examples: social and community engagement, audience growth, press coverage, and increase in earned media.

 

Successful storytelling examples

Warby Parker – This is a socially-conscious brand with a genuine vision. Warby Parker donates a portion of their profits to make eyewear available in underserved communities around the world. By making a social impact, the brand has developed a loyal following.

Burt’s Bees – The company’s founder models how to live simply, naturally and responsibly. Brand stories share Burt’s lifestyle and how products are made. This mini-documentary is just one example.

Airbnb – The property rental company provides a forum for customers to tell their own stories. These micro-stories add up to tell the larger brand story. Airbnb’s strategy is effective because it builds consumer affiliation while also building a sense of trust, safety, and familiarity.

 

Narratives play a key role in any brand’s marketing strategy. Want to start writing your own success story? Join our community of entrepreneurs, small businesses, and enterprise companies today.

Interested in learning more about growing your business? Read our guide on startup growth hacking here.

6 Tips for Renting Your First Office Space

6 Tips for Renting Your First Office Space

Renting your first office space can be a challenging, but exciting milestone for your business. The space you choose will represent your brand and influence your team’s productivity. In fact, being able to rent an office space is a major goal for many new entrepreneurs.

Investing in an office or coworking space can help you focus and grow your professional network. “I joined Novel Coworking to have an actual office to go to a few days a week when I feel like I need extra focus (with unlimited free coffee, count me in!) and I’ve loved having the option to work alongside other entrepreneurs a few days a week,” said Nina Baez, owner of Nina Fitness Training.  “Entrepreneurship is rewarding and sometimes lonely if your business is entirely virtual, so if you’re feeling that you need a change of focus or motivation, try something new.”

As thrilling as renting a new office space can be, it’s important to do your research and find a space that will help your business grow. In this week’s blog post we share seven tips for renting your first office space, so that you can make an informed decision and take the next step for your business.

 

Benefits of an office space

The first step is deciding if you actually need an office space. How will an office impact your workflow and team collaboration? The benefits of investing in a physical office space may include:

Local Brand Awareness – Grow your brand’s local presence by renting an office space in an area with heavy foot traffic.

Meeting Space – Coffee shops may be an adequate meeting space when you’re just getting started, but might not help you get to the next level. In-person meetings and conference calls will benefit from a quiet space with reliable internet.

Increased Productivity – Working from home can make it difficult to stay on task. Working in a high-energy, professional space can improve productivity and collaboration.

“Before we landed at Novel Coworking we talked constantly about the importance of a good environment for creative output. So we invested in our businesses and ourselves and rented a private office. We’ve already had so many good conversations and collaborations in the space. Here’s to many more!” – Koriko Creative

Koriko Creative is a design studio dedicated to those who are working to improve the world around them.

Mail Delivery – Providing clients with a reputable business address is much more professional than a home address or P.O. Box. It will also allow you to keep your private and work life separate.

Search Engine Optimization – Brands that have a physical address can verify their listing on Google and show up on Google Maps and local search results.

 

1. How much space do you need?

Space requirements can vary widely by company, industry, and geographic location. While enterprise companies may be interested in suites that can accommodate up to 500 people, startups and first-time entrepreneurs might benefit more from a coworking space or smaller private office.

First, consider how many people are on your team and what your growth projection looks like. How is your business expected to grow during the course of your lease? Sheri Williams, Head of Customer Success at Solv Health, said, “We moved into the Novel Denver building last year and one of the main reasons we chose Novel is the variety of space available that would allow us to stay in the same location as we grow the team. We are now in our third space with Novel due to growth! The Novel team is truly wonderful to work with and has been an essential part of our growth plan in Denver!”

Solv Health is renting their third office space with Novel Coworking in Denver.

 

2. What amenities are included?

Renting a modern office space means assessing what amenities are included in the cost. Providing your team with a fully functional space and modern amenities can make a world of difference.

For example, Novel Coworking provides the following amenities to members:

  • – Fiber internet
    – Beer on tap
    – Fully furnished
    – On-site management
    – Printers
    – Conference rooms
    – Mail service
    – Espresso machine

 

 

3. What type of office should you rent?

Modern workspaces come in many different forms. From open coworking spaces to traditional private offices, entrepreneurs can choose from a variety of office layouts.

Shared Office – A great option for solopreneurs who want a space to focus on work, but don’t mind sharing their office with another freelancer or business owner.

Private Office – Fit for teams between 1 and 20 people. A private office is best for entrepreneurs who plan on growing their team and need an exclusive space for collaboration.

Coworking – Through coworking, entrepreneurs can work in a modern and professional environment for an affordable rate. Coworking spaces have the added benefit of allowing business owners to connect with dynamic leaders and innovators.

Dedicated Desk – Similar to a coworking membership, dedicated desks offer flexibility and affordability, as well as the security of a locking file cabinet and a reserved desk.

 

4. How to choose a location

It’s vital that you choose an office location that is easily accessible to your team and clients. Is there public transportation nearby? Does the office have a bike rack? Your team may also appreciate a location that has nearby coffee shops and restaurants to choose from.

Because Novel Coworking owns their historic buildings, members can rent an office space in prime urban locations for half the cost of similar office providers. For example, our new North First building in San Jose offers proximity to Apple, PayPal, and eBay, as well as easy access to the airport. Novel Coworking River North in Chicago, on the other hand, is steps from popular restaurants and nightlife, as well as the Chicago River and train stations.

Novel Coworking Johnson Square is at the heart of the city’s commercial and business center, just two blocks from the riverfront.

 

5. Legal pitfalls you should avoid

When renting a commercial office space, remember to carefully consider the terms of your lease. Pay extra attention to the length of the lease, when it begins, and whether there are renewal options.

Additionally, does your rent include insurance, property taxes, and maintenance costs? What is the security deposit and what conditions need to be met to have it returned? What common areas are included with your rent?

 

6. Consider your budget

Don’t choose an office space that will put your business in debt. Deciding on an appropriate budget will help you maintain your peace of mind. That being said, investing in your company and in your dream is a necessary part of growing a business.

Consider the plans and pricing at Novel Coworking:

  • – Private or shared office space starts at $299 per month
    – Coworking membership starts at $129 per month
    – Dedicated desk space starts at $249 per month

 

Remember that amenities, maintenance, taxes, mail service, furniture and other factors should be weighed when deciding on your office space budget.

When you’re ready to rent your first office space, Novel Coworking can provide you with competitive rates and amenity-rich options to help you grow your business. Each location provides on-site staff and amenities such as hi-speed internet, conference rooms, and a fully-stocked kitchen with beer on tap and an espresso machine.

Find a Novel Coworking location in your area and take a tour today!