If you’re a small business, even if you are an employer, your main office location may be your home. It is a great way to keep costs down as you establish your business but as you grow, your clients will expect you to maintain a certain image and standard. Failing to do so may hold you back. When it comes to hosting meetings, there is only so long you can get away with meeting at a client’s location. Sooner or later you’ll need to invite them to you and while your home may be beautiful, you’ll probably need to consider alternative options. We’ve put together some of the best places to hold a meeting if you don’t have your own office. If none of them really fit you and you want to try something different, we’ve also listed the worst, so you can avoid any embarrassing pitfalls…
1. The Coffee Shop
A large independent cafe or chain can be great if you want relaxation and a little privacy. Larger city centre coffee shops often have booths which offer some protection from prying ears. Most also offer free wifi, so you don’t need to bring handfuls of print-outs!
2. A Hotel
Hotels usually have conference rooms which can be hired out for larger meetings for a reasonable price. They are also useful if you are part of a networking group where members take turns hosting meetings, as they hold a good number and refreshments can be provided.
3. A University
Universities are not just seats of learning, they are hubs of business. Often they have conferencing facilities or spare lecture theatres which can be used for meetings. Those with business schools attached will also have smaller meeting rooms for hire.
4. A Serviced Office
You don’t always need to be a tenant of a serviced office to hire a meeting or conference room. Many are available to hire for a fee and you'll get free Wi-Fi, refreshments, a supportive reception team and much more. You can even book catering through the provider. If you are outgrowing home however it may be worth considering a virtual office, which allows you to use the address, telephone answering and mail handling services of a serviced office for less than it costs to become a tenant. You can also get a discount on meeting room bookings.
5. Chamber of Commerce
Every town, city or region has a Chamber of Commerce - an organisation designed to help improve business prosperity through education, advice and support. They will usually provide professional office spaces and meeting rooms for members for a small fee or even for free. Often these are centrally located too, so they are easily accessible to you and your clients.
A museum is an unusual location but many do have facilities you can use for meetings. If you’re looking for something a little bit different, a museum offers a great talking point. Ask to see if they have any rooms available for hire to accommodate you.
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1. Your Car
We think it goes without saying that using your car as a meeting space is an absolute no-go. It’s highly unlikely that a client would even turn up to a meeting in your car.
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2. A Public Library
This may seem like a good idea, especially now many have nice cafes within them. They’re often very busy with little privacy however. The library environment means you can’t talk too loudly and therefore may make you feel uncomfortable.
3. Restaurants and Fast Food Outlets
These are totally off-limits! Despite their free wifi and booths, these are places of leisure more so than coffee shops and don’t give a great impression. By all means, take a client to dinner, but don’t make it a formal meeting!
4. A Pub
Although a relatively popular meeting location, a pub or wine bar is a far from ideal meeting location. Whatever you may think about ‘having a drink building closer relationships’ you are increasing the risk of having one too many and either alienating your client, being alienated by them or agreeing to something you find you can’t deliver once you sober up.
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5. The Great Outdoors
Holding a meeting outdoors may seem like a good idea, especially in the summertime when it’s hot. However, with many distractions and the unreliable weather, it isn’t very practical for getting things done.
6. At Home
Inviting a client to your home may seem convenient and a casual atmosphere can be great for a meeting, but you can achieve that feeling without bringing work into your family sanctuary. As connectivity increases it is becoming more important to protect your personal space so for the benefit of you and your business it is worthwhile looking at alternative venues.