Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Introducing Our Document Review Center

July 20, 2010

Until three years ago, Theatre District Business Center offered the same traditional accommodations and amenities of most shared office environments . . . fully furnished office space, telephones, shared internet access, conference rooms, receptionist and secretarial services, etc.  However, a phone inquiry led to our making a very unique addition to our selection of services.

A local legal staffing agency was looking for an immediate short term space to house about 30 contract attorneys for a document review for a major law firm.  Until that point in time, even our corner boardroom fell short of those requirements.  But, as luck would have it, one of our tenants was leaving the state and vacating a space that we believed could serve the agency’s needs.

Within two weeks, we had the space set up and ready to welcome the agency and their attorneys, and provide the professional atmosphere they needed to accomplish their goals.  Within a relatively short time-frame, we marshaled our forces to coordinate desk space, computer rentals, phone service and expanded internet capacity.  What began as a six-week rental ended up extending to an 18-month commitment.   For all those months, this due diligence/meeting room space had been occupied and now it has been leased by a new tenant. 

Now, we have created a new space and are once again pleased to offer a flexible, convenient space for document reviews, training sessions and meetings of any kind.  It’s a great room . . . well lit, overlooking Dearborn Street, able to accommodate 24-26 people.  It is available by the day, week, month or longer.  Public transportation makes it convenient for most users and there are many restaurants, shops and services close by.

We’ve learned that flexibility is a major component of managing shared office space to meet the varied needs of our tenants and clients, and being able to offer this space affords us the opportunity to set our center apart and to expand our horizons to keep pace with the ever-changing economic climate.

If you would like to tour this space, please call 312.762.9200 or visit our website for rates for this and other meeting rooms, http://thesuitescollection.com/conference.asp.available

Spring cleaning for your small business

March 17, 2010

Here in Chicago, spring is in the air.  The increasing sunshine and warmth are happy reminders of the growth we’ll soon see in flowers and Trees.   The courtyard at Tree Studios is looking particularly promising right now.  For small business owners, this time of year signifies a few challenges, too.  Taxes are nearly due, New Year’s resolutions have been forgotten and piles of paperwork likely need to be shed (or shred!).   Kick start your own growth season with some spring cleaning; it’s a great time to eliminate the unnecessary clutter and institute good practices for your small business.

To ready yourself for tax season, visit the IRS’ small business and self employed tax center and participate in a quick virtual workshop.  Even if you have an accountant, you need to be apprised of the process and the government’s expectations for you as a business owner.  There are also good guidelines for record retention.  Paperwork that should be retained can be scanned and converted to electronic form so the paper can still be put in to the recycling bin.   

Are you making regular back ups of your important electronic files?  The process can be quick and easy with a small flash drive or more comprehensive with an external hard drive.  Specialized back up software is another option.  Whatever you decide, pick a regular back up schedule and put it on your calendar.

Another way to renew your business momentum is by reaping the benefits that come with a great office location and efficient work environment.  Contact The Suites Collection for a tour of our three outstanding office centers and let us handle your administrative concerns while you focus on building your company.

Incubate your business

March 9, 2010

We got some exciting news today at Tree Studios.  One of our favorite tenants, a strong company that has been with us for three years, will be moving out soon.  Why are they moving?  Their business has done so well that they are expanding their staff and transitioning to dedicated office space.  Though it is bittersweet for us to loose them, we know that one of our highest values as a shared office provider is providing a safe place for fragile start-ups to flourish.

What motivates your dreams of entrepreneurial success?  Is it the desire to be your own boss?  Do you wish to imprint your talents and ideas on the world?  It is not likely that the prospect of researching phone systems, leasing copiers and ordering office furniture drives you to start a company.  With all of the hats small business owners must wear, organizing and maintaining the office is understandably low on the priority list. 

Some companies may always consist of one or two individuals, some may increase or decrease depending on seasonal and project demands.  Especially in an economic climate like ours, many people are pursuing their dreams of entrepreneurship because they’ve lost their job.  Our offices, services and prime locations offer a support system to these small and burgeoning new companies.  We have special furnished start-up offices at Court House Executive Offices that are move in ready and include your telephone and internet connection. Change can feel daunting, but at the same time exhilarating.  If it’s time to make a change and you want to find an environment that encourages you to grow, give us a call and we will work together toward building your dreams.

Heroes

July 16, 2009

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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.

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Start up support

July 2, 2009

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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.

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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. 

Do social media sites deliver for business?

April 10, 2009

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Current marketing buzz is all about “social media”.   Everyone touts the explosive popularity of websites like Twitter and Facebook as the next big way for small businesses to connect with customers.  Is this true or is it just hype created by self-described “social mavens” who want us to hire them for expensive consultation gigs?  In a contracting economy, experts agree you should increase marketing efforts and pursue all opportunities for visibility, but what can you do to turn the “followers” and “fans” on networking sites into paying customers? 

Unfortunately, there is not one clear answer to that question.  We do know that once your business joins a social media site, making continual updates is mandatory.  With all the work you do to attract online visitors, once they get to your page they’d better not find it “stale” or else they’ll click away and on to something else that will hold their attention.  “Fans” on Facebook and “followers” on Twitter need to feel like there is someone on the other side of the screen.  That’s how they’ll make that social connection with your brand and that’s how, hopefully, you’ll start making deals.

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The first time you hear about a new website or a development in technology, you are often made to feel like you are already behind the times.  That is not necessarily true.  Each small business grows at it’s own pace and when you are ready for the next step; you will know.  Daily demands from current customers consume time and energy.  The majority of small businesses can’t afford to keep a marketing person or a computer programmer on staff.   When you are doing it all, you can’t do it all at once.

During the past year at The Suites Collection, we’ve managed to optimize our website for search engines, develop pay per click campaigns, generate this blog and post regularly on Craigslist.  We now know those initiatives simply laid the foundation for a basic internet marketing strategy.  Sometimes we wonder what happened to the old marketing “necessities” (Is anyone still using AOL?  Even MySpace is fading!), but gazing wistfully backwards is just not helpful.  Moving forward is the only way to stay relevant in this ever changing marketing environment. 

We will continue to blog about how The Suites Collection is expanding its online marketing strategy to include social media.   We’d love to hear about your endeavors and what you’ve experienced.  And if you haven’t yet tackled these new opportunities because you don’t know how to begin, here’s a fundamental guide to getting started on Twitter.

Address your business

March 26, 2009

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As access to the internet via laptops and cell phones becomes increasingly prevalent, we are now free to conduct our business from almost any location.  Mobility definitely has perks that increase flexibility and decrease the cost of traditional office expenses.  Yet, even with so much of our communication existing in cyber space, we should not escape the opportunity to build trust by giving clients a legitimate business address, phone number and a comfortable place to talk face-to-face.

The Suites Collection offers telecommuters a great way to establish a corporate identity by providing virtual offices at our three business centers.  For $200 a month, a virtual office gives you a prestigious address and 312 area-code phone number.  Your calls will be answered with your company name and forwarded to voice mail, which you will have access to 24 hours a day.  Mail and packages will be received for you during normal business hours and when the time comes to meet in person with clients or prospects, you can arrange for use of any of our conference facilities.  Establishing a virtual office with us also gives you access to our copy center, fax machine, scanner and administrative personnel.

When your office is mobile, the conferencing and meeting facilities at The Suites Collection are the perfect place to conduct professional meetings and give presentations.  All our rooms come furnished and equipped specifically to make your meetings as productive as possible.   Whether it’s an intimate small group discussion or an executive level conference in our rotunda board room, we can accommodate a range of meeting styles.

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Click below to contact us for information on how to have one of our classic Chicago addresses on your business card.  As your company grows you may eventually require dedicated private office space, and as a virtual office client, we will be able to give you priority for our best available offices.  Let The Suites Collection be your corporate headquarters and support system.   We’ll handle things while you’re away!

Theatre District Business Center at 60 W. Randolph

Goodman Theatre Building across from Daley Plaza

Central Business District

 

Court House Executive Offices at 101 W. Grand

Site of Historic Grand Hotel on Clark Street

River North – West

 

Tree Studios at 4 E. Ohio

Unique studio offices in storied landmark building

River North – East