Running your business from home can help control expenses, and you can even claim some expenses like broadband and phone services against your tax bill when you work from home.
While most small business owners are satisfied with operating their businesses within the comfort of their own home, that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily on board with opening their doors and using their living room to meet clients, investors, and customers.
Let’s explore some options for meeting clients away from your home, including:
- Coffee shop
- Your clients home
- Hotel conference rooms
- Shared office centres
- Public library
This is probably the most obvious and cliché option, but meeting at a local coffee shop can still be quite effective. As long as you buy some coffee or tea (for yourself and your client), you can use the space for as long as you need without extra charges.
Despite the benefits, popular retail chains like Starbucks do have one downside – if you meet at the wrong time of day, you may end up fighting for a seat. Or, you may end up at one of those tiny round tables that only have enough space for your smartphone and cup of coffee.
Also, it can probably get pretty noisy with all of the incoming customers, making it hard to have a decent conversation. If you’d prefer, agree to meet at a quaint and equally attractive coffee shop to negotiate business instead.
Your client’s home
Depending on the industry you’re in, home visits are a huge luxury to clients, and this is a great option when you have the time.
Services like a massage can be easily done at clients’ homes, and visiting clients at home can even give you a competitive advantage. Some clients prefer convenience. And travelling to your clients can offer a tax relief for you; if you’re self-employed and travelling for work, you can claim mileage on your Self Assessment tax return. Learn more on how to claim mileage here.
The best practice for in-home client meetings is to bring all the necessary supplies with you. For example, if you’re a massage therapist, you can consider bringing some scented candles or a small portable speaker to play soothing music. Even though it’s their home, you can still create a comfortable therapeutic space during your visit.
Hotel conference rooms
A meeting in an actual hotel room could be too intimate for your comfort and could even compromise your safety. Likewise, meeting in the hotel foyer or lobby is too amateur. Booking a conference room within a hotel is a better alternative. Depending on the hotel, meeting rooms can be rented for between £200 and £300 a day.
While the price may seem steep, most conference room packages can include some perks. For example, you can get access to Wi-Fi, a TV and DVD player for presentations and video conferencing, office supplies such as notepads or even catered food.
Shared office centres
The growing trend is using co-op office centres to conduct meetings. These services typically will give you a small office, including a desk and a few chairs, for a low hourly rate. Others even offer special daily and monthly packages for those who know they’ll be busy with clients during a particular month or week.
While this option isn’t completely free, it can come in handy when none of the other possible options seems appropriate.
Co-working spaces are a great option, as they allow you to pay a lower monthly fee for membership and rent meeting room space as needed. You can easily find and book a space online using a service like CoWorker or WeWork. Or, you can contact local office buildings and ask if they offer hourly rentals.
Don’t worry about looking unprofessional because you don’t have office space just yet. Your clients value your expertise and support more than anything. Go above and beyond to provide the absolute best care possible, and they’ll be impressed no matter the setting. Don’t hold off on seeing clients until you can afford an office. If you start seeing clients now, you’ll be able to afford an office sooner.
Not all libraries enforce silence. Some libraries can have wide, open spaces that provide plenty of opportunities to spread materials and documentation. There’s free wifi and even computers with internet access available for use. Many libraries offer meeting rooms (sometimes even soundproof) with useful conference facilities that can be rented out at very competitive rates.
In-person appointments are great, but you can save your client the commute and let them dial in from the comfort of their living room. Online meetings over Skype, Zoom or FaceTime will let you easily meet with multiple clients per day without running around and burning yourself out.
Today, many of us have a dedicated space to work at home. Dedicated office space at home helps you separate your private and professional lives and create a professional working environment for client interactions. Things can become challenging if you constantly rearrange your shared office space according to business and pleasure. If you only have minimal space available, see our guide on How to Create a Home Office in a Small Space.
If you are having a meeting over an online platform such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, be sure to check your background while you’re on camera. Keep it as uncluttered and tidy as possible, so you won’t be distracted as you present or chat with clients.
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Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier.
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You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward!
Find out more here.