I cannot afford to spend money on things that do not make me money. I work to a tight budget.
But I also have to factor in where I will have face-to-face meetings. At this stage in my business, a formal office is not on the cards. I have a home office, in a spare bedroom, but I’m wary of having meetings there. After all, it is my family’s home as well.
When I started in the business, meeting in coffee shops seemed to be the thing. The space is free and only costs you a coffee but as my business grew, I seemed to have more and more coffee shop meetings … and spent more and more dollars.
As I counted up all the dollars I had spent on coffee shop meetings, I was surprised by how much it added up. At two of three coffee shop meetings a week, I was spending up to $100 a week. That’s $400 a month. Almost $4,500 a year. That is a lot of almond milk chai lattes and gluten free fruit toast!
I began to wonder if it was really worth the spend. Was I getting an ROI from this vs other forms of marketing? Did these coffee meetings really translate into business or was it just an excuse to drink nice coffee and have a chat?
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When I weighed up cost vs price, yes, it was and is worth it and it was/is making me money. Coffee meetings have been incredibly valuable to my business; I am not just talking about closed business.
Here are three reasons why:
It is easier to build a relationship in an informal environment. A coffee shop is mutual ground. If you are meeting a new client or a prospective client, a coffee shop meeting, sharing information over a meal or a warm drink, is a great way to get to know each other, to build trust and a connection. After all, people do business with people.
2. Value for money
Have you checked out how much renting an office space is? For a little box, it is anywhere from $200/week up. I would rather spend that money on marketing my business or on my PA. Even a collaborative workspace can set you back $100 a week … and you do not get food and drinks brought to your table! If you limit yourself to two to three coffee meetings a week, or a couple of hours to do some work, it is still more cost effective than renting an office.
3. Access to different environments
Unless you love changing your office space around regularly, it is the same old same old, day in day out. When you use a coffee shop, you can try a different one every time. Because you are not locked into a contract, if you do not like it, the other people there, or the food, you can find another one. Most coffee shops have free Wi-Fi, different views, heating and air con, power and table service.
To the army of small business people in Australia, a coffee shop is the new office space – low rent, access to good food and beverages and an escape from the lonely four walls of the home-based office.
The key is to use the space wisely. Have a purpose and objective for each meeting (plus a time limit – it is easy to linger). Set yourself a budget for your coffee shop meetings. Pick a place that is not too noisy and offers Wi-Fi. Remember your manners. Stay away from sticky sweet treats (that was a reminder to me).
And the cream on top of this coffee shop meeting cappuccino – we are supporting other local small businesses. A win-win.