One of my favourite TV shows was an Australian comedy called Very Small Business. Don Angel, a small business owner, has several phone lines and he answers each in a different business name. His office is an oversized city office, with nothing but an under-furnished conference room and single desk in the middle of the office.
I had to laugh at the example above because I was a small business owner at the time. While Don Angel took things to extremes, I had experienced situations where I wanted to appear more professional than a sole trader working out of a small home office. One situation was when I had to present to a small team of executives and they offered to come to my office. I was working from home and there wasn’t a conference room in sight.
Every business will experience growing pains, like this, at some stage. Thankfully, we no longer live in a time when people with resources control everything. Small businesses have access to so much, if only they learn the art of resourcefulness.
If you don’t have a conference room of your own and you think you’re limited for options, here are 8 alternatives you might not have considered.
[pause while the laughter dies down]: No, seriously. I have been in to some McDonald’s stores in Australia where they actually hire their party room out for conferences. It’s a free service, on the understanding that you get some catering from their café. Most of them have free WiFi, so what’s not to like?
Airport lounges are big business now. Some of these lounges, particularly in city areas, have workspaces and meeting rooms. You might even be lucky to find meeting space at some regional airports. Chances are you’ll have free Wi-Fi there too.
Unfortunately our local Officeworks doesn’t have a conference room, however, some do. As far as I am aware, it’s a free service they offer to their account clients. Check out the Officeworks website for locations.
Incubation centres and shared offices are becoming quite common in city areas and I know they are starting to appear in some regional areas, like Wagga too. Most incubation centres offer hot desks and shared workspaces, as well as shared facilities, including the occasional conference room.
Hotel and motel facilities are not always just reserved for guests. In fact, most hotel and motel owners I know would be happy to rent their conference rooms by the hour. Don’t overlook these local facilities as a possible venue for your next team meeting.
A few online sites now allow businesses to list and rent their excess office space. I think this is a great idea, although this idea is yet to make an impact in regional areas. There are a few alternatives but check out Spacely for an example.
While this may not have the corporate feel for presentations, you can usually find a quiet meeting room for team projects etc. Ask about any programs at the university, as some universities are now building incubation centres for startups to work from.
Your local library often has small conference rooms. In many cases, library staff will probably let you book and use them for free or for a small fee. They don’t usually have a corporate feel but sometimes they will be all you need.
I’m sure you can come up with a few more ideas. You probably have your own solution for finding a conference room or other facilities, when you’re under resourced. Please share this article if you find it helpful or feel free to leave your own ideas and tips in the comments.