Question: I need to get out of my house, but I can't afford an office on my own. What are some alternative ways to find office space?
Question by: Emily B.
Take Advantage of Business Incubators
"It can be challenging to be productive and professional when you're working out of a basement/playroom/laundry room/office. If you're not ready to rent a commercial space, look for a business incubator program in your area. They offer reduced-cost office space, furniture, equipment, etc. They have incredible resources for tenants and provide a great entrepreneurial environment."
Book Your Local Library
"Libraries are not only for the bookish; they're also great, quiet spaces to work. They're especially ideal for anyone who can't yet afford to move into their own office or a co-working space because public libraries are free to access. Most libraries have no-pay computer access and many have free public Wi-Fi too."
Ask to Rent a Desk
"In this economy, there are a lot of business that have had to downsize. This often leaves empty desks in established, professional, work environments that you otherwise could not afford. Reach out to small and mid-sized businesses near you that work in a similar industry and propose your idea. This is also an incredibly powerful way to network with key people in your industry."
Peek Into Places of Worship
"Many places of worship are packed during the weekends but relatively empty during the week. If you need a quiet place to work, get in contact with the place of worship near you that is resonant with your values. They likely have extra space -- and remember that they need donations to stay open. Plus, there's something grounding about them that can be a huge emotional boost."
Join a Co-Working Space
"Joining a co-working space will not only be less expensive than traditional office space, but you will belong to a community of smart individuals who are going through the same challenges you are. This network of like-minded coworkers will provide you with some of your best strategic partners to bounce ideas off of and who understand the unique challenges you face as a business owner."
Look Into Loosecubes
"Take a look at services like Loosecubes if you want to avoid a traditional co-working space. They connect folks with empty desks or office space with people who need them, and they've got such spaces all over the world. This also gives you the chance to shop around before committing to a space for the long term."
Create Your Own Space
"I worked from home for two years; then, this year I had to get a real office. I looked at space but didn't want to fork over $500/month to work by myself. So I found an empty space downtown -- great character, 8,000 square feet. It had been vacant for a year so the owner was very flexible on terms. I made some calls to local entrepreneurs and got five to move in. Now I get paid to have an office!"
Pitch Your Clients
"Find a client who has extra office space and who will let you use it. This is great because your client will have better access to you, and you can use their facilities for other meetings and things. Look around at your current client list or who you would like to have as a client, and then just propose this to them. You may be surprised that they would love to have you."
Share an Office
"In the past, I have successfully shared offices with accountants, financial advisors and web designers who also weren't ready for their own office yet. We shared the rent based on peak hours usage; after hours, the office was up for grabs by reservation at least two weeks out. The key is to keep the place neutral, maintain a schedule and communicate with each other."
Head to Coffee Shops
"If you're tight on money, setting up shop in a coffee shop can be great. Some of the best work I've done was done in a coffee shop. Thing is, wherever you set up, don't be afraid to introduce yourself to people. There are endless opportunities when you're working independently."
"First, purchase a mobile WiFi card for your computer through a telecom company. Next, purchase a portable desk and comfortable chair that you can easily fold up and fit in your car. Lastly, find a quiet space (if you go outdoors, be sure to shield yourself from the wind and elements). You are now all set up for a great mobile office on the cheap. For fun, look for a new spot each week."
Go Back to School
"Another great source for work space is checking with your local university. They may have open space that you can leverage. You can try to barter office space in exchange for teaching a class or seminar."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.