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Set up shop on the cheap

More for your money if you share facilities?

The type of space to rent for your new office really depends on one issue: Do you need glitzy office space to impress clients or just a comfortable place for your people to work?

If a luxurious office in a prestigious location is important to your image, one alternative is to consider sharing space with a compatible firm, rather than renting it out solo.

Consulting, accounting, and law firms often have extra office space available and are willing rent it out on a long or short-term basis. You also could look for business incubator organisations, in which several small companies rent space and share office equipment, an answering service and other services.

These space-sharing arrangements benefit everyone because in exchange for paying a portion of the other business's overhead costs, you'll have access to its office equipment, conference rooms and professional help in the form of a receptionist or secretary. Make sure though that there is adequate parking for your employees and clients so there are no surprises after you sign the lease. Be sure you can install the phone, fax, and Internet access lines you need to keep in touch with your clients and suppliers.

Because you can't predict whether your new venture will generate revenues quickly, it's prudent to keep your office expenses under control. To test the waters in a new market, you might want to set up shop in an office building designed to serve several small businesses under one roof.

These business centres offer not just the services mentioned above, but also may include extensive, international video conferencing services, large conference rooms and mail and phone-answering services.

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