Two for the price of one. It's an offer that's hard to resist, but that's exactly what a live/work property does offer. For those whose work would usually require separate premises, a live/work unit presents an opportunity not only to save a lot of time but also a lot of money.
Put simply, running your business from a live/work unit means you are paying for one building, not two. That means one mortgage or rent to pay, one set of energy bills and so on. That really matters when energy bills and mortgage payments are rising all the time and the world economy is looking uncertain.
It matters in particular to those setting out on their own freelance career or starting a small business. The cost of running physical premises is usually the biggest cost of all for a new business. If you can cut this one out, your business will be able to invest more in marketing, networking, equipment and materials. So live/work is great for enterprise and innovation.
What better place to start and grow a small business than home? And what better place to expand it, taking on associates and staff, than a live/work property that gives you the space to work with others without losing the advantages of home working?
According to DTZ Research's Global Office Occupancy Costs Survey (2007), the average total office occupancy costs per workstation per annum - taking into account rent, outgoings and property tax - is $7,570. Of course this rises to $12,310 in downtown Manhattan, $14,580 in Washington DC or a staggering $16,400 NYC's midtown area - the fifth most expensive location on earth. Costs across north America are 'soaring', says the survey, because of higher demand, energy expenses and construction costs. Not having to rent space in an expensive business district means a live/work property can slash your premises costs.
And that's not all.
Working in a live/work environment will mean no commuting costs - no gas, no parking fees, no train, bus or subway fares. Then there are all the other hidden daily costs that commuting workers pay for that live/workers don't need to - fewer suits and work clothes to buy and dry clean, fewer expensive lunches and coffees, less wear and tear on the car so fewer expensive repairs. Few of us track how much we spend (or save) on these things, but they soon add up. Meanwhile various home expenses can legitimately be claimed as business expenses if you work from home.
YOU WON'T BE ALONE
Live/work is no longer a fringe approach to making money. Home based businesses are a growing part of the US economy. And if we are to guess future trends, the findings of a report by the Small Business Administration are significant:
- home based businesses' turnover is over $530 billion pa
- 52% of small businesses in the USA are based at home
- home based businesses have higher net incomes than those that are office based.
According to the Telecommunications Industry Association, around 87 per cent of US internet connections will be broadband in two years' time, and the Intuit-IFTF Future of Small Business project predicts that new technologies mean that more and more people over the next decade will be making their living 'outside the walls of big business'.
Small businesses, because of their size and agility, are far better suited to serve niche markets, it says, and the growing availability of sophisticated desktop software even for complex manufacturing processes, the boom in online retailing, the vast global markets opened up by the internet and the marketing potential of web 2.0 technology mean opportunities for small businesses are booming like never before.
Small businesses are 'responsible for new technology and product innovation and for creating, not just filling, new market niches' it says. 'They are the artisans who master the art of on-demand production, and they will adapt those skills to meet needs in the global market.' And this exponential growth in small business potential and opportunity will be matched by a corresponding growth in healthy work-life balance.
SAVE MONEY - AT A GLANCE
Not yet convinced? Here is a checklist for you. See if any of these could apply to you if you choose the live/work approach:
- no mortgage or rent on separate workspace premises
- no heating bills for separate workspace
- no electricity for separate workspace
- no IT equipment, telecom bills, broadband for separate workspace
- no insurance for separate workspace
- no commuting costs
- lower car costs - use it less
- claim home equipment against tax, eg computer
- fewer suits, work dresses, shoes etc
- lunch at home not out
- make your own coffee, don't need to go to Starbucks
- work more if you want when you want, so earn more
- divert cost savings made on premises to the business, and so earn more.
- The list goes on and on. And, if you live/work, so do the savings...