Archive for the ‘Starting a Business?’ Category

Entrepreneurial Necessities

May 27, 2010

 

People embarking on new businesses adventures when traditional income streams dry up are called “necessity entrepreneurs”.  As you might imagine, the number of people turning into necessity entrepreneurs is increasing.  The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a research project that tracks entrepreneurship, cites “necessity” as a factor for 24.7% of new U.S. ventures in 2009.  This is up from 16.3% in 2007. 

If you no longer have a traditional job and you possess dreams of owning your own business, now is a great time to give yourself that chance!  Use local resources to help you set up shop and get the support you need to achieve success. 

Court House Executive Offices in River North is the ideal workplace for an entrepreneur.  You will have your own private, furnished, affordable office for as little as $600 per month.  That price includes your telephone and high speed internet connection as well as a receptionist to answer your calls and a professional office manager.  In addition, the benefits of working among entrepreneurs who have followed the same path can be inspiring and educational.   

Connect with the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and check out their newly federally funded program The Cluster Acceleration Program (CAP).  CAP provides entrepreneurs with access to resources and relationships in key industries – including alternative energy, consumer products and services, information technology for the new media, as well as financial services and healthcare markets.

For the lighter side of business networking, attend a “High Speed Networking” event with Chicago’s Networking for Professionals branch.  Meet other business people looking to make connections in a casual, but fast paced environment.  They claim that with high speed networking you can make more new business contacts in one evening than most people will make in 6 months!

Sometimes life gives you an opportunity.  Sometimes you have to take a risk and try something new.  The economy will be back and stronger than ever eventually.  Put yourself in a position to make the most of it – try something you’ve always wanted to and become a successful entrepreneur!

Should you work from home?

April 12, 2010

Working from home may seem like a walk in the park for some.  For others, it is an absolute impossibility.  Why the difference?  You may think the disparity lies between older workers accustomed to traditional offices vs. younger workers who are “hip” to technology trends.  Actually the difference is more about personality type and life situation than your age bracket or owning a smart phone.

In his recent Chicago Tribune editorial titled, “Work at Home?  Not so darn fast”, Clarence Page admits that working from home can make him feel like a “prisoner”.   Especially for extroverted personalities, being alone all day is depressing.  For people whose home office is a make-shift desk in the corner of a living room, they just can’t achieve the privacy and quiet they need to accomplish anything. 

Editorial staffers at Inc. Magazine just undertook a fascinating work experiment.  They spent an entire month away from their Manhattan office and made their department virtual.  When it was over and they returned to the office, most of them were relieved.  Their blog about it is a fascinating read on how the experiment impacted the individual employees and overall business. 

Not everyone gets to make a choice about where they work, but if you can, it is a hugely important decision.  As Americans, we spend more time working that doing anything else – 8.8 hours a day on average!   At The Suites Collection, we count many former telecommuters among our current tenants. Their reasons for choosing our offices range widely, but “professional environment”, “support services” and “networking opportunities” rank among the highest.   Depending on the type of person you are and the type of business you are in, you just might want a traditional office where you can feel productive and connected.   If so, contact us and we will find you a great new location. 

How’s business?

February 10, 2010

It’s not hard to find predictions for the U.S. economy in today’s 24/7 media frenzy.   If you look around long enough you’ll find one that predicts just about every possible scenario.   One of the direst comes from Russia, where a former KGB agent is asserting our country will enter into civil war, the dollar will collapse and our nation will break into six pieces in 2010 – with Alaska reverting to Russian control!  This baloney was not reported on some fringe website, but by the Wall Street Journal.  The media will keep throwing darts hoping they’ll land somewhere accurate or entertaining.  Meanwhile, it’s small business owners and their employees doing the heavy lifting in this economy, and we’ve got to keep our ear to the ground for valuable information.

From 1980-2005, firms less than five years old accounted for all net job growth in the country. In 2007 alone, young firms (1-5 years old) accounted for nearly two-thirds of job creation.  As such a singularly vital part of the economy, we should look to each other for ideas.  That’s one of the biggest benefits in a shared office environment: the day to day opportunities to exchange practical information with other small business owners, employees and burgeoning entrepreneurs.  Going to work and connecting with your neighbor becomes a way to expand your understanding of your own business.  Another way we can increase our individual prowess is to present an organized front to legislators.  Kaufman, the foundation for entrepreneurship, is one group dedicated to doing that.  They aim to organize entrepreneurs to confront fundamental issues needed to achieve an improved small business climate.

At The Suites Collection, we are researching some big new trends in our sector and examining how we can incorporate these new approaches in 2010.  Change is constant in every business, and we are working hard to understand how our changes will affect us at every level – from daily operations to upper level management to the overarching marketing strategies.  Even though the specifics of each business may be unique, the subjects we tackle are the same.  We know we’ve got to stay nimble and find ways to do more with less.  Flexibility, affordability and adaptability are the new economy key words and they are here to stay.

A great deal at Court House Executive Offices

January 12, 2010

How much does something cost?  It is a simple question, but have you ever been frustrated in trying to get an answer?  Some businesses play games by offering promotional pricing that expires all too soon or by demanding mandatory fees for services you don’t even use.  At The Suites Collection, our prices are not promotional and there are no mandatory fees.  Far from it, we include a telephone and internet connection in every office.  That means your monthly rent includes everything you need to get your business started tomorrow!

At Court House Executive Offices, our professional staff members run an efficient environment and handle daily operations behind the scenes.  This leaves you free to concentrate on your own business.  With prices ranging from $600 a month for a one person office to $2,200 a month for a team of people,   we have something available for companies in any stage of growth.  Our current tenants believe we offer, “convenience” and “a great business environment”, so we invite you to check out our available suites – the prices are printed online – and contact us for a tour

We’ll take care of your office while you take care of your business

November 5, 2009

Corner

Court House Executive Offices provides private suites and meeting rooms for entrepreneurs.  Our tenants enjoy shared amenities and a congenial atmosphere surrounded by like minded business professionals.  Beginning today, our new blog series will examine the ways that Court House Executive Offices (“CHEO”) empowers companies to succeed in this economy –  with flexibility, efficiency and affordability. 

Because we are independently owned and managed, we can be flexible when responding to your specific business needs.  If the time comes change  your staffing, technology or space considerations, we will work with you to find the perfect solution.  Joanna Greene of the Chicago Workforce Investment Council, our tenant since 2003, says, “The best part is the flexibility we have to expand our space (when business is going well) or reduce it when we need to.  We also convene many meetings, so having access to all types and sizes of conference rooms has been very valuable.”  Indeed, the well appointed facilities at CHEO can accommodate a wide range of meetings from personnel interviews to court depositions to training programs.

We’d like to share more with you about the benefits of bringing your business to us.  Please call us at 312-994-2700 to schedule a tour today!

 

Are you ready to stop working from home?

August 11, 2009

crowded house

Working in your living space can be burdensome on your family and your business.   Certain aspects of the arrangement that appeal to you at first may not seem so beneficial once the interruptions and expenses add up.  Personal matters can become a distraction.   Cost savings disappear when equipment fails.  You may not have appropriate meeting space for clients.  Maintaining the efficiency of a home office can drain your resources.   Don’t let the value of your business suffer because you are not in the right place to get the job done.

Furnished offices in a professional atmosphere are move-in ready at The Suites Collection.  If you are weighing the decision to leave your home office for a new one, arrange a tour for any or all of our three convenient business centers.  Rents start at under $1000 per month.  Your furniture, telephone and high speed internet connection are included in your rent.    Our centers are equipped with conference rooms, copier, fax and secretarial support.   We have a wide variety of office sizes and layouts to suit your style and our experienced staff will work with you to select the right one.  If your office needs change in the future, you can transition to another one with minimal disruption. 

Studio 7

model law office

If you do plan to continue working from a home, The Suites Collection offers another service that can enhance your business.   Our virtual office program will allow you to have a prestigious mailing address and personalized telephone reception with 24/7 access to voice mail.  Our flexible office program offers part time use of an office for when you need focused time to prepare for a meeting or require privacy with a client.   Meeting and conference rooms that hold up to 20 people are available for half or full day rental and are located close to public transportation and parking.

For more insight on the ways individuals and businesses make the most of shared office environments, see these recent articles from Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.  Or, for a fun international perspective, read how the Germans are also enjoying the benefits!

Time management

July 31, 2009

time_rush

The Suites Collection’s business centers are located in River North and the North Loop, two of Chicago’s hottest neighborhoods for dining, theatre and shopping.  Tourists are ubiquitous in these areas.  On sidewalks, they pause for sightseeing or stop to get their bearings.  Because they are operating on leisure time, their casual gait sets a conflicting pace with business people rushing by.   The contrast reveals how the choices we make every day determine the speed in which we live out our lives.

“Time is money.” – Benjamin Franklin

When you are running your own business, effective time management is crucial.  Not only will it make you more productive, but it will allay burn out from impeding your success, happiness and health.  The expectation that we will multi-task from anywhere has removed boundaries that used to shelter our leisure time for ourselves. 

A balanced approach to time management incorporates goal setting, prioritization, managing interruptions, avoiding procrastination and effective scheduling.  How do you feel about your time management skills?  Take this test at mindtools.com to identify areas for improvement. 

Another resource, RescueTime, is a web-based analytics tool for professionals who want to be more productive.  Signing up is free and you’ll be up and running in a minute or two.  RescueTime appears as a dashboard on your computer that monitors the applications and websites you use.  This real-time feedback allows you to make immediate decisions to increase your productivity. 

time_tourists

Other improvements may take longer.  The pursuit of effective time management can be life long.  You won’t always handle everything perfectly, but identifying your personalized strategy and employing it to the best of your ability will improve your business and your life.

Heroes

July 16, 2009

hand

A Canadian firm recently paid $1.68 million to charity for one lunch with Warren Buffet.  Their CEO cited the value of Buffet’s “wisdom and experience” as the reason they would spend so much money on one meal.  Whose opinions and advice would you pay for?  Is there someone in your life whose advice has value beyond measure but they give it to you for free?  When you are starting or leading a small business, engaging in dialogue with a personal hero is important.  Maintain an open dialogue with a mentor and it will make your business, and your life, better.

Often you will meet a mentor during the natural course of your professional life.  It could be a former boss or someone you know personally.  “At Their Knee” in Inc.com is an interesting article with interviews of successful business owners who were lucky enough to encounter great entrepreneurs in their early careers.  They credit the advice distilled to them from these mentors with their current success.  What’s striking is the way the mentees can recall the one or two snippets of advice that continue to drive their business decisions today.

If necessary, you can deliberately seek out and find a person with whom you can create this particular bond.  SCORE will put you in touch with an expert to answer specific questions that you have within 48 hours.  Another option would be to join a local business alliance.  One of the many unique benefits of working in a shared office environment like The Suites Collection is the networking potential.  Your adjacency to other entrepreneurs and business owners opens up the opportunity for mentorships to occur.   Even if the particulars of your business are distinctive, hearing about lessons learned by others in common situations can help you save time by not reinventing the wheel. 

We all need inspiration and encouragement.  Who are your real life heroes?  Remember to value your time with them and look forward to a day you can hopefully pass on your hard won wisdom and experiences to a younger generation.

eagle

Start up support

July 2, 2009

support key

Looking for ways to expand or enhance your business acumen? There are plenty of options for support and advice from companies whose business it is to keep you in business. Continuing your education is a great idea. Even if your schedule is busy, you can always find quick tips in magazines, online and by reaching out into your local community.

Reading a magazine is a refreshing way to discover information without having to be in front of a computer screen.  While on the train or waiting at an airport, pick up a copy of Inc. Magazine, “The Magazine for Growing Companies”.  Also referred to as “The Small Business Bible”, Inc. Magazine uses real life examples of business strategies, case studies, successes and failures to highlight real world solutions. The current issue features Paul Graham whose company, Y Combinator, is a hybrid venture capital fund and business school that funds and advises early-stage businesses.  Another article captures and compares the inner workings at Google and Microsoft.   

Toolkit.com is an online business owners toolkit offering “total know how” for small businesses.  We’ve recommended this site in previous blogs, but they’ve revamped and improved their site recently which makes it even better.  News stories and links direct you to the latest developments affecting small businesses.  The 200 free business documents, templates, checklists and official government forms make it easy for you to access those items from one place.

university

Your nearby college or university can also be a great resource.  Business and economics departments often conduct public outreach.  In Chicago, DePaul University’s Entrepreneurship Program at the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center offers consulting services, educational programs and resources for students and entrepreneurs throughout the city in the various stages of what they term the “Entrepreneurial Quest®”.

And if you want a good laugh to relieve you after your studies, read “Every Piece of Start Up Advice Is a Lie Including Mine” , an enlightening blog entry from one of Y Combinator’s participant entrepreneurs, Tony Right. 

Hot Chicago deals

June 26, 2009

lake sunrise

The arrival of hot weather this year coincided with the summer solstice, a rare coincidence!  Usually we don’t have to wait until the end of June for warmth.  Now that it’s finally here why not make the most of it?   Whether you are determined to be productive or in need of rejuvenation, doing what you want for free is the best way to spend the hot summer days.  Here are several recommendations from the staff at The Suites Collection for free deals near our business centers.

Grant Park July 4th

Celebrate the 4th of July on Millennium Park’s Great Lawn at the Grant Park Music Festival’s first-ever Independence Day concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.  The lively event begins at 1:30 p.m. and will include readings of the Declaration of Independence and other patriotic speeches.  Music performances of ragtime, country music and turn-of-the-century waltzes will be performed by the Northside Southpaws, a Chicago mandolin/guitar duo.  Navy Pier’s fireworks display starts at 10:15 p.m. on the 4th.  This is not to be confused with the official Grant Park fireworks display which will be held on the 3rd of July.  The fireworks are a spectacular display of over 5,000 aerial devices and shells.  Festivities kick off at 7:30 p.m. on July 3rd with a performance by the Grant Park Orchestra at the Petrillo Music Shell and the fireworks display beginning at 9:30 p.m. 

During the long winter, we so often forgo a proper lunch break and stay inside to keep warm.  Now that outside temperatures are inviting, we prefer to step out of the office for our lunch hour and enjoy free downtown tours and museums.  Take a free 45-minute tour of the exhibition A Conversation with Chicago: Contemporary Sculptures from China led by members of the Millennium Park staff and learn more about this spectacular art, never before seen in the United States.  On any given day, choose to explore nature, science, history or culture at one of the city’s Museum Free Days

If you are busy being a worker bee this summer, there are great “Summer School” freebies to help increase your business acumen.  Free online business classes available through the US Small Business Association include:

Small Business Primer: Guide to Starting a Business

How to Prepare a Business Plan

Franchising Basics

Technology 101: A Small Business Guide

bee

The city that never sleeps is keeping busy this summer with, “Chicago Business Works”, seminars hosted by the Chicago Department of Business Affairs.  Now in its third year, this series of free seminars connects entrepreneurs and new business owners with exhibitors who service small businesses, other business owners and government leaders.  Events are free and registration is not required. 

Summer seminar dates:

– June 25 – Harry S. Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson

– September 10 – Harlold Washington College, 30 E. Lake St.

Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by a speaking program, workshops and exhibitors. 

We’d love to find out about any other great deals out there.  Please contact us with your suggestions.  Have a great summer!