11 Tips for Finding Office Space on a Shoestring Budget

You don't have to work in your basement. These tips will get you out of the house and for little or no money.
January 09, 2012

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country's most promising young entrepreneurs.  The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship and resources that support each stage of a business's development and growth.

When recently asked about finding an alternate office space for small business owners on a budget, YEC members had the following advice.

1. Take Advantage of Business Incubators

It can be challenging to be productive and professional when you're working out of a basement, playroom, laundry room or office. If you're not ready to rent a commercial space, look for a business incubator program in your area. They offer reduced-cost office space, furniture, equipment, etc. They have incredible resources for tenants and provide a great entrepreneurial environment. Therese Kuster, owner of TargetClick Marketing Solutions

2. Join a Co-working Space

Joining a co-working space will not only be less expensive than traditional office space, but you will belong to a community of smart individuals who are going through the same challenges you are. This network of like-minded co-workers will provide you with some of your best strategic partners to bounce ideas off of and who understand the unique challenges you face as a business owner. —Doug Bend, founder of The Law Office of Doug Bend

3. Loosecubes

Take a look at services like Loosecubes if you want to avoid the traditional co-working space. They connect folks with empty desks or office space with people who need them, and they've got spaces all over the world. This also gives you the chance to shop around before committing to a space long-term. Colin Wright, CEO of Exile Lifestyle

4. Create Your Own Co-working Space

I worked from home for two years. Then this year, I had to get a real office. I looked at space but didn't want to fork over $500 a month to work by myself. So, I found an empty space downtown: great character, 8,000 sqft. It had been vacant for a year so the owner was very flexible on terms. I made some calls to local entrepreneurs and got five to move in. Now, I get paid to have an office. Trevor Mauch, CEO of Automize

5. Rent a Desk

In this economy there are a lot of businesses that have had to downsize. This often leaves empty desks in established, professional work environments you otherwise could not afford. Reach out to small and midsize businesses near you that work in a similar industry and propose your idea. This is also an incredibly powerful way to network with key people in your industry. —Kent Healy, founder of The Uncommon Life

6. Check Out Your Local Place of Worship

Many places of worship are packed during the weekends but are relatively empty during the week. If you need a quiet place to work, get in contact with the place of worship near you that is resonant with your values. They likely have extra space, and remember that they need donations to stay open. Plus, there's something grounding about them that can be a huge emotional boost. —Charlie Gilkey, principal at Productive Flourishing

7. Your Local Library

Libraries are not only for the bookish; they're also great, quiet spaces to work. They're especially ideal for anyone who can't yet afford to move into their own office or a co-working space because public libraries are free to access. Most libraries have no-pay computer access and many have free public Wi-Fi, too. Doreen Bloch, founder of Poshly

8. Serve Your Clients

Find a client who has extra office space and who will let you use it. This is great because your client will have better access to you and you can use their facilities for other meetings and things. Look around at your current client list or who you would like to have as a client, and then just propose this to them. You may be surprised that they would love to have you. Louis Lautman, founder of Young Entrepreneur Society

9. Share an Office

When I wasn't ready to have my own office, I had successfully shared offices with accountants, financial advisors and Web designers who were in the same boat. We shared the rent based on peak-hour (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) usage. After hours, the office was up for grabs by reservation at least two weeks out. The key is to keep the place neutral, maintain a schedule and communicate with each other. Devesh Dwivedi, CEO of Breaking The 9 To 5 Jail

10. Coffee Shops

If you're tight on money, setting up shop in a coffee shop can be great. Some of the best work I've done was done in a coffee shop. The thing is, wherever you set up, don't be afraid to introduce yourself to people. There are endless opportunities when you're working independently. Sydney Owen, founder of 3Ring Media

11. The Anywhere Office

First, purchase a mobile Wi-Fi card for your computer through a telecom company. Next, purchase a portable desk and comfortable chair that you can easily fold up and fit into your car. Last, find a quiet space (if you go outdoors be sure to shield yourself from the wind and elements). You are now all set-up for a great mobile office on the cheap. For fun, look for a new spot each week. —Benjamin Leis, founder of Sweat EquiTees

Photo credit: Courtesy subjects (Pictured clockwise from top left: Doug Bend, Louis Lautman, Sydney Owen, Benjamin Leis, Doreen Blotch, Charlie Gilkey)