Small Biz: Take Baby Steps Toward Growth

By Jeff Doughman
December 18, 2008

How do you continue to grow your small business in an increasingly uncertain economy? It’s a question many entrepreneurs are asking themselves, and the answer may lie in thinking small about how to be big.

Small business owners who take baby steps toward growth, rather than making major or risky investments all at once, are more protected financially if a downturn hits. For example, there are more affordable alternatives to setting up a traditional office that allow you to compete at a high level without real estate, employee, and office equipment and furnishings costs.

Here are four steps that entrepreneurs can take to help build success one small step at a time:

Find a Home Away from Home
When lack of space or barking dogs make working from home an exercise in frustration, it’s time to make your move. But don’t think an expensive, long-term lease is your only option. Full or part-time, move-in-ready offices in business centers are a less costly alternative that come fully furnished and equipped, and offer business-grade copiers, on-site administrative support and high-speed Internet access.

Meet in Style
If you need professional space for the occasional client meeting, leasing a full-time office is overkill. A well-kept secret is the availability of by-the-hour meeting rooms at business centers. For less than the average hotel meeting room, you can book a private conference room in a prestigious high-rise, get on-site technical and administrative support, and have catering arranged for your group.

Get Help, Virtually
If you need an assistant to answer phones and sort mail, think twice before hiring a full-time employee. Consider the cost of salary and benefits. It can be simpler and cheaper to use a virtual office, which provides a phone number and address at a first-class office building, plus a shared administrative assistant to answer calls in your company’s name, greet clients and help with clerical work.

Fly the Friendly Airwaves
Can’t afford to fly cross-country to meet with distant clients or business partners? Set up a videoconference instead. Chances are there’s a business center near you and your client where you can rent a videoconference suite by the hour, save hundreds in travel costs, and still be home before dinner.

A sluggish economy doesn’t mean you can’t grow your business, but proceeding with caution can really pay off.

Jeff Doughman is the Central Region Vice President of The Regus Group Americas, a provider of workplace solutions operating a global network of more than 1,000 business centers in 450 cities and 75 countries. To learn more visit