To Rent or Not-to-Rent an Office Space

One of the questions I get a lot from new practitioners and coaches is:

Should I rent an office space to see clients?

It’s a great question and I want to make sure you have the best advice and a solid plan before you make this decision for your business. It’s not a decision you should take lightly, because it can be an expensive drain on your new profits. So before you get caught up in the idea of decorating your own space, hanging those beautiful pictures, getting a comfy chair and adding in the trickling water fountain to relax your clients, make sure it’s an investment that makes sense for you and your business.

I’ve seen too many newbie-practitioners and coaches take the plunge into renting a bright, sunny office space with the hopes of referrals and a steady-stream of clients….only to find out later that it isn’t meeting their expectations and is quickly draining their funds.

You might think that an office space will get the word out about your new business or that it will make your business “official”.  But there’s some important things to consider before you find yourself stuck in a lease or contract that you can’t get out of easily.

Why you might consider renting an office –

Renting an office space isn’t an entirely bad idea, but let’s take a closer look to see if it’s right for you before you take the leap.

As a holistic practitioner or coach, you might have thought about renting a space to see clients for several reasons, including:

  • Privacy – You need a private space for meeting with clients and conducting your sessions
  • Credibility – You want to add more credibility to your business and you believe that having an “official” office will help
  • Visibility – You’re hoping that an office space might make you more visible to potential clients
  • Referrals – You’re planning on renting in an established space with other practitioners that you hope will send you referrals

These all seem like great reasons on the surface to rent an office space. But I’d like to go a little deeper (you know me!) and look at the real issues underlying these reasons you have for renting an office space.

Privacy

You definitely need a quiet space for meeting with clients. It’s professional. But you may not need a completely private space, depending on the type of work you do. If you’re a coach, meeting with a client in a private room of a local cafe might be private enough. But if you’re a massage therapist, having an office space might make more sense. In general, for hands-on therapy, office space makes more sense. For more “advice-giving” work like coaching and consulting, it’s less important. A “safe space” can be created in many settings, including over the phone or even Skype.

Credibility

If you want to rent a space to make your business more credible, most likely this is more of a confidence issue rather than a credibility issue.  Your office space itself will not make you more credible. What makes you credible is being authentic, helping your clients reach their goals and providing them value along their journey. Only you can do that for you! And when you help your clients see results and you believe in yourself, you gain confidence.

Visibility

It’s common to think that a beautiful space in a great location might help you get more clients. Sure, you’ll potentially have a space that has a greater presence in your community, but an office does not equal paying clients.  Clients come from being clear on your niche and connecting with them where they are. So if your office space happens to be in a fitness center where all of your ideal clients are hanging out, then it might be a good fit. On the other hand, relying on walk-ins and people who are curious about the new store in town is not a strong marketing strategy. Whether you have an office space or you work virtually, visibility comes from connecting with your ideal clients where they are and providing them value while solving their problem.

Referrals

One of the main reasons you might be thinking of renting an office is that it’s in a space with other holistic practitioners or health professionals. It can sound ideal – we can all refer to each other! The problem is, this is very rare.  Unless the practitioners and coaches you are working with are truly like-minded, big thinkers, you’ll more likely run into your colleagues who are working hard enough to build their own business and aren’t interested in sending clients your way.  *Note: I’m a big fan of partnering and building referrals with the right people. But if you’re looking for a referral-only based business, it’s usually a sign that you have some fear around marketing. If you need help with client attraction and authentic marketing, click here.

A Story of One Wellness Coach

Let me share a personal story with you…..When I first started out as a Holistic Health & Wellness Coach, I was elated to be in an office space with a holistic physician and other practitioners. When I was offered the space, I immediately said “Yes!” I didn’t consider any of the tips I’m sharing with you in this article. (Lucky for you, you get to learn from all the mistakes I made over the years!) I was so excited that I was even “chosen” to rent the space.  When I put down my deposit and signed my year-long lease, I was banking on all of the above happening: privacy, credibility, visibility and referrals. None of these happened.

Privacy – the walls were really thin and the office was so quiet (bad sign!) that whenever someone was with a client, everyone could hear what was being said.

Credibility – my credibility didn’t come from my office space, it came later when I gained confidence to know my own worth and credibility from within.

Visibility – no one stopped in to see me just because I was there with a nice chair and my plaque on the wall. In fact, I would sit in my office hoping someone would just drop in so I could look busy.

Referrals – I was relying on the practitioners in the office to gladly send me referrals, when in reality, they were too busy trying to attract their own clients and struggling to keep their own businesses afloat.

Lesson learned: Your office space will never do the marketing for you. Only you can do that! So when will you decide to learn the marketing of your business so you can share your message with those who need to hear it?

Still Planning on that pretty new office?

If you still think renting a space is for you, then make sure to follow these guidelines to ensure your success:

  • Flexible Leasing – Find out if you can rent as you use the space, that way you’re only paying for rent when you have paying clients.
  • Trial Period – can you rent the space for a 3 month time period to see how it goes for you?
  • Commission Base – Can you pay per client you have. As you make money, a certain percentage goes to your lease.
  • Space Sharing – can you share your space with other practitioners and greatly cut your costs.
  • Rent with like-minded practitioners – meet with them before to find out how much of their practice is referral based from the office space and ensure that it’s a good fit
  • Alternative Office Renting – Find a space in your community that rents out hourly like (there’s many local businesses popping up these days that offer this service, search your city on google with “rent office space hourly”). Or why not rent the room at your local co-op where you can show your clients certain foods or products that can be helpful before or after your session?

Finally, make sure to decide what is the best investment for your profits. The best thing to do with your profits when you’re first getting started is to be able to reinvest back into your business so you can keep growing. Instead of renting, could your money be better spent on marketing, training, technology or business support and coaching to help you create a proven strategy for your success? In most cases, the answer is “yes”.

You can join the IAWP Now during our 3 Day Only Special New Member Enrollment and save 10%! Just go here and enter coupon code FALLJUMPSTART.

Feel free to leave your comments below and let me know if you’re renting an office space and how it’s working for you!

Thriving Together,

Suzanne Monroe
Founder & CEO, IAWP

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Are you a wellness professional, holistic health practitioner, coach or other health-minded, heart-centered entrepreneur who wants to learn the business and marketing tools to create lasting success? Get your FREE Wellness Professional’s Success Starter Kit at http://www.iawp-connect.com and jumpstart your wellness practice today. Suzanne Monroe is a Holistic Business Coach and the Founder & CEO of the International Association of Wellness Professionals, where passionate practices become thriving businesses.

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