No More Coffee House Meetings


Small business owners and entrepreneurs that work out of their homes no longer need to rely on coffee houses like Starbucks (NYSE:SBUX) to conduct periodic meetings. On demand offices and conference rooms are increasingly becoming more prevalent to fulfill business owners’ space needs.

“People are looking for the ability to operate and grow their company without entering a long-term lease and all the overhead that goes into building out an office and furnishing an office,” says Tom Camplese, chief operating officer at  Intelligent Office, a virtual office company. “Start ups and small businesses can’t afford that physical space so they are finding other means.”

While conducting meetings at the local coffee shop has its perks, free coffee, WiFi, it could potentially send the wrong message to potential clients and investors.  Camplese warned it could look like that space is all you can afford and there’s always the worry of nosy patrons overhearing conversations and learning sensitive information.

Boulder- Co., based Intelligent Office is one of a handful of companies that offers businesses of all sizes virtual office locations that they can use as a little as a couple of times a month. Customers only pay for the time it uses a room, and the price includes all the things associated with a physical office including a receptionist and office technology. Conference rooms are equipped with state –of-the art equipment can also be reserved on demand.

Using a virtual office also gives a small business an address they can use on their business cards. According to Camplese, its offices are located in prestigious office buildings, enabling the small business to have an address that typically would be cost prohibitive to many start ups and small shops.

“Compared to starting your own company with a traditional office, it’s extraordinarily cost efficient,” says Camplese. “All of the infrastructure is in place. Clients only pay for what they need.”

Virtual offices have been around for a while, but have been growing in popularity in recent years as small businesses suffer through a protracted downturn in the economy.  Technological advancements now allow a small business to conduct business anywhere, making a permanent office space not a neccessity. According to Camplese, large businesses are looking for more efficiencies, while small companies are looking for easier and more affordable ways to launch a business.

Intelligent Office has 50 locations throughout the U.S., mainly in major cities. Clients pay different prices for different addresses. For instance, the customer looking for access to an office on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue is going to pay more than the one looking for space in an office park in Tucson. Rates are customized to reflect the individual needs of the business. With these office spaces, businesses don’t have to worry about signing long-term leases and don’t have to commit to using a space for a specific amount of time. Camplese says some businesses start out using one the spaces only a couple of times a month and increase frequency as the business grows.

“In some cases Starbuck is enough but at some point in a small businesses’ life cycle they really want to grow and you are not going to be able to do it at Starbucks,” says Camplese.