Start-up Hub Problem Page: Where to start up – does the postcode still matter, do clients care?
Some would argue that London’s status as a global financial centre can add a sense of prestige to your business. In my time I’ve heard stories of remotely-based businesses hiring out PO boxes in central London to give the impression they have a plush HQ there.
But it’s no secret the city is also one of the world’s most expensive in which to live and work. Indeed, cities in general are pricey places to be – some more so than others, yes, but expensive nonetheless.
And with online marketing and remote communication now the norm, does physical location really matter anymore? Or are entrepreneurs in danger of chasing an extremely expensive goal that will actually have little to no impact on their success?
It’s a difficult dilemma for any new business, and as ever there’s no single correct answer to the problem. Every start-up will have its own specific needs and each entrepreneur their own opinion.
We caught up with a few members of the Start-up Hub community to hear their views…
Mark Dawber, Head of Business Development, SPARKL
Does location really break or make a start-up? Not in my case.
I’ve been working from home in Yorkshire for the past 22 years. Social media and collaborative platforms like Cisco Spark and Slack make it all possible – it’s just a matter of self-discipline.
It’s never occurred to me to hide this, either: flexible working is the norm now.
I do come down to the London office at least once a week for meetings, but it doesn’t affect my face-time with clients in the least. In fact, the only downside of working from home is missing out on after work beers with the rest of team SPARKL!
Steve Banks, Managing Director, i2i Pipelines
Due to our industry and the clients I was going after (particularly major oil companies), our address did matter. I would not have got any traction if I was working from home or had a residential address as the company address.
Our company took its own office space at Manchester Science Park: we needed lab and workshop space as well as desks, so it was a very specific space requirement.
For us, office space is more to do with functionality and what we need to turn out a good product rather than being near to clients. If you are targeting a global market it is unlikely that proximity to a client will make a difference.
Science parks attached to universities give a good image of spin-off tech breaking into industry, which is what we wanted to convey.
For other companies it’s probably a case of only telling the client if they need to know. Some clients may think that someone working from home is a bit of a risk as it conveys an image of a very early start-up and a company that is pre-revenue.
I don’t think a postcode matters, but I think the environment or ‘workspace’ matters a great deal. Go to a shared space that has some successful start-ups in residence or a reputation of attracting talented people. That way, when you have client meetings then some of the buzz will rub off on them.
Phil Woodward, CEO, Steer73
When I started we worked from home briefly before moving to a co-working space. We now share an office with one other company.
I was worried about the potentially negative perception of working from home when I started out. In our case we were a very small business, trying to sell into large companies.
We had a co-working space we could use to have meetings from that was in a nice office. This did actually matter, as it helped set the right tone.
But, with that said, postcode doesn’t matter. Your online presence is orders of magnitude more important, especially when it is so easy to get a co-working space or a virtual address in ‘good’ postcodes. No one cares.
Working from home at the beginning was a fine way to start, cost efficient and productive. You can be productive at home as an individual, but to be productive as a company we need to be in the same place. Having said that, everyone will still work from home when they need to focus on a task, without distractions.
Do you know someone who would benefit from this content? Feel free to share with your social networks and help us spread the word.
If there’s a topic area you’d like us to cover in more detail, or if you have a question you’d like to ask, please let us know in the comments below or drop us a line at email@example.com.