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6 critical considerations for your startup’s first office space

6 critical considerations for your startup’s first office space

Moving into your own commercial office space for the first time can be quite an exciting step in your entrepreneurial career. It indicates a coming of age for your new business, meaning it’s much more likely to expand and flourish. By accommodating more resources and staff in your new space, your business will be more productive.

Selecting the perfect office space for your business can be quite a challenging task. The space you choose might be a deciding factor in a number of other important decisions which will affect your business. For example, it will affect your office budget, the lease and rental rates, the accessibility and functionality of the space, utilities, and other unknown costs. If you are the owner of a startup and are looking to move into the perfect office space, here are 6 critical considerations you need to make before signing the lease.

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The Location

The location of your startup’s office is perhaps one of the most important aspects of your future business. If you intend to have your office space in the heart of the city or in an upscale neighborhood, you might attract customers with larger spending power, however, you will pay high leasing and rental costs, which might cause a dent in your resources. On the other hand, offices in less-upscale areas may offer lower rent but may not fetch you as many customers who have considerable spending power. Based on the nature of your business, it is imperative to make a call and arrive at a decision.

Lease and Rental Rates

Real estate rates can change over time and get you into real trouble. The last thing you would want is to settle down comfortably into your office premises, then find that your landlord hikes the rent at the end of the year and rents it out to someone else if you don’t pay more. Most office leases are for a minimum of one year and can go up to ten years. It is important that you prepare your rental agreements with caution and ensure that they give you a chance to renew. Although rental rates are generally negotiated when you renew your lease, you could consider an agreement in which the increase in rent is capped at a maximum of 5%.

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Infrastructure                

Infrastructure plays a huge role in determining the suitability of your new office space. The total cost you pay towards electricity, phone and internet services, heating, and air conditioning in an office space will be a considerable investment; therefore, you need to conduct adequate research to decide on which service providers you will have on board. You can get in touch with your landlord or the managers of the commercial spaces in your neighborhood to gain a perspective.

Accessibility and Transportation

Your office space should be within close proximity to your home in order to ensure that you and your key employees do not spend a lot of time in commuting every day. Ensure that your office is in the vicinity of metro stations or other public transportation options. Your office premises should be able to take care of the parking needs of both your employees and your customers. Locating your office space in close proximity to public transportation is necessary if you have limited parking space.

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Ease of accessibility will not only earn you loyal customers but will also help you to attract potential employees to work for you.

Designing Your Office for Maximum Functionality

You need to first understand which kind of office floor plan will best suit your business. Many recent, successful startups have adopted the open floor plan to foster employee bonding and team spirit. You could also consider open cubicles divided by partitions, which offer a considerable amount of visual privacy. Ensure that the windows are duly covered with blinds to filter the sunlight and to prevent outside noise from entering the office.

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Assigning adequate space to your employees is important. It is also important to set guidelines with regards to employees’ ability to personalize their work spaces. Make sure that your office has provisions for differently abled employees.

Exuding Your Brand and Culture

Your office represents what you do and serves as a fantastic branding tool. It should embody everything that your brand reflects. Branding your office will play into your work culture and reinforce the work principles your employees abide by. They should see your company’s brand all around them – from the location of the office to what they see when they walk into the office premises. Their work culture should be shaped by the brand they work for. This is also applicable to clients and customers who visit your office. With great branding, it will be far easier to gain customers’ confidence in your business abilities.

Office environments and cultures have witnessed numerous revolutions over the past decade, courtesy of the startup trend. Office spaces that create an aura of comfort and motivation have been successful in fostering loyalty among employees. It is up to you as a leader of your business to make these important decisions that will help your business flourish.

Featured photo credit: Bench Accounting via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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