In this regular column, Andrea Kolokasi, Head of Business Development at Workspace, highlights hints and tips for burgeoning entrepreneurs, reflecting on insights from the inspiring business leaders within Workspace’s customer network.
Watching your business grow is exciting for any entrepreneur, particularly as this expansion often comes from hours of careful nurturing at the nascent start-up stage. However, it also comes with a new set of responsibilities to a growing workforce who will be responsible for taking your passion and vision forward. Keeping your employees happy, retaining and attracting new talent, can become an important facet of your overall business strategy – and, as we know from experience, your workplace is central to success.
Location, location, location
The right location is crucial to attracting and retaining talented employees. In the beginning, you might be working from home or a co-working space nearby as it is convenient for you. Yet unless you happen to live in a vibrant central location close to transport, it is rather unlikely that this set-up will prove attractive for a top graduate or experienced executive.
Elsie Rutterford, co-founder of BYBI Beauty, a beauty start-up specialising in natural, vegan and cruelty-free skincare, started out in an office the size of a cupboard in Hackney. “As our team grew we realised that this kind of set-up just wouldn’t work, so we looked for an affordable but modern space in a location that was more accessible to most areas of London,” she says.
Location was a crucial part of the decision-making process, as Elsie quickly realised that not being situated near a major public transportation hub was off-putting for potential employees. Access to good cafés, restaurants and culture is also important to keep your talent happy. It is an employee’s market at present, and there is a much publicised war for talent, so these seemingly innocuous points are important considerations if you want to secure the very best people to ultimately drive further business growth.
Flexibility is everything
Elsie launched her brand in August 2017, although she had been running a popular blog, Clean Beauty Insiders, for a couple of years before that. Initially, she just needed somewhere to store stock that could double up as a working space for her and her business partner, Dominika Minarovic. The team quickly doubled in size and took the important decision to move into Workspace’s Record Hall in Hatton Garden. “It’s been a great base for us to enter as a small business and grow. We started out with just four of us and we’ve grown to 10 in just under a year,” she says.
This kind of rapid expansion is not unusual for a successful start-up but can create challenges when it comes to more traditional real estate leases. Flexible work space is a good solution for a growing business because – as the name suggests – it can provide a variety of office sizes and formats with contracts that can be changed with ease.
On working in a flexible office space, Elsie says: “It was great to know that our growth could be supported. We were able to source a new studio quickly, which happened to be just two doors down from our old office – ideal!”
The risk of moving from home into a more formal working environment is certainly reduced with flexible space, and isn’t one to take lightly, but Elsie has enjoyed the additional benefits. She adds: “Having an office space formalises your working day and can provide structure that the kitchen table can’t. We had a lot of stock so finding space to house it and quickly access it was important, but for those that don’t have ‘stuff’ even finding a hot-desking set-up is a great way to meet fellow entrepreneurs. I’d say go for it sooner than you think!”
Employees value the enterprising culture and energy of flexible office buildings, as there is a community of like-minded businesses to network and share ideas with. Alongside a modern office environment with strong digital infrastructure – ensuring the team’s productivity is not disrupted by annoying Wi-Fi outages – flexible work spaces have a number of lifestyle amenities such as bicycle storage, showers, bookable meeting rooms and a good cafe. None of these should be overlooked in enticing and retaining the right workforce.
About the author
Andrea Kolokasi is Head of Business Development at Workspace.
Workspace is a FTSE 250 London-based office provider that owns 3.9 million sq. ft. of commercial space, housing thousands of businesses ranging from start-ups to established companies – including Hugo Boss, Nutmeg, Citymapper, Bloom & Wild and Bluebella.