With the rise of the Internet, running a business out of the house has become increasingly common. In fact, according to the US Small Business Administration, 52% of the businesses in the US are homebased. While working inside the comfort of your own house does offer a number of benefits – it certainly makes your commute quick and easy – the practice does present problems when it comes to meeting clients. After all, unless you have a totally separate space inside of your home, having clients come to your house can be awkward, and even then, it’s less than ideal. Here are some creative ideas on where you can have your next business meeting if you work from home:
Coffee Shop or Restaurant
Perhaps the most common go-to meeting places are nearby coffee shops and restaurants. These locales tend to offer Wi-Fi access, which makes it easy to get online and access important information. Additionally, being surrounded by other people can help to make the situation less intimate and facilitate an easier conversation. As a cautionary note, business owners might want to avoid having lunch or dinner meeting with clients they are meeting for the first time. After all, haring a meal with a relative stranger can make some people uncomfortable.
Although few people consider them, the truth is that hotels offer a wide range of meeting options. For starters, hotels often have bars or lounge areas that can serve as ideal locations to sit down with a customer. Additionally, a lot of hotels have conference rooms or meeting spaces that can be rented out, if you’re not averse to spending a little money. In fact, in recent years the practice has become so common that many hotels have started offering specialized pricing plans for what they call pop-up offices. These spaces are typically well appointed and can lend a definite air of legitimacy to your small business.
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Rented Meeting Space
Of course, hotels aren’t the only places to rent out office space. Depending on the city in which you live, you might be able to find high-quality meeting to rent by the day, half-day, or even hour. These offices typically have to be rented in advance, so plan accordingly. As an added benefit, the companies that rent out these offices are often willing to create personalized signage. In some cases, your clients will walk away thinking that they’ve just visited you at your regular office. And if you’re going to be using the space repeatedly, you might be able to work out a deal with the owners to rent the room at a slightly reduced rate, saving you valuable dollars in the long run.
If you don’t want to shell out hard-earned money to pay for rented office space, then you can always ask to use a friend’s space. Depending on how well you know the friend in question, you might be able to use the office for free. On the other hand, if the friend is more of a business acquaintance, you should be prepared to offer some kind of compensation. Often, small business owners will create something of a favors-based bartering system among themselves. If you want to use somebody’s office, think of goods or services that you could offer him or her in return.
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For home-based businesses that have a lot of meetings, a members’ club might be the best solution. As with restaurants and coffee shops, members’ clubs typically offer an inviting atmosphere that can be welcoming to clients. Unlike restaurants and coffee shops, however, members’ clubs tend to be more upscale, which can make your business seem prestigious. But be forewarned: these clubs can come with a hefty price tag. Before joining, make sure that you have enough meetings—and business—to justify the expense.
The Great Outdoors
Sure, having a meeting outside might not work for every client, and if your business involves a lot of visual aids or presentation materials, then the great outdoors probably isn’t the best place to hold a meeting. However, if you know that your client is more relaxed, and the two of you share a friendly relationship, then meeting outside can be a cheap and easy option. Sitting down for a meeting outside offers plenty of sunshine and fresh air, two things that are hard to come by in many office settings. If you have a client who likes to stay active, don’t be afraid to have an on-the-go meeting, walking around a local park or hiking trail.
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If you work out of your house, it can sometimes be hard to find appropriate meeting spaces. With the rise of work-from-home businesses, however, most clients and venders are accustomed to meeting in non-office settings, and they’re usually fairly flexible. Hopefully, once you get to know your clients and their tastes, you can find the right place to hold all of your future business meetings.
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