In a country like Bangladesh, where traditional views tend to be in the driver’s seat, perception is quite important for any business to succeed
Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Walmart are some of the biggest corporations in the world, but all of them began as start-ups way back in the day; and all of them had one thing that many unsuccessful start-ups failed to properly grow into — a proper base of operations.
Whether it is a place to come together and work or start a business in a limited capacity, having that much-needed base is invaluable.
It helps gain a concrete footing or platform from where start-ups can strategize and launch. Without it, a lot of start-up organizations can, and do, fail to reach their full potential and wither away.
In a country like Bangladesh, where traditional views tend to be in the driver’s seat, perception is quite important for any business to succeed.
The older generation still firmly holds the perception that a business needs to have a proper office space in order to be trustworthy and considered legitimate.
They — in this case, the clients and associates — are more comfortable dealing with an organization that has some sort of physical presence where they can sit down, have some tea and discuss prospects.
This space does not have to be fancy though.
Even a modest space is usually good enough to appease clients and vendors.
That is fortunate, since start-ups do not have the luxury of spending a great deal on real estate like big corporations.
The budget always tends to be tight, but investing in a base is always a good idea that can be quite advantageous for the start-ups.
That is why the wisest of the bunch tend to look for commercial spaces in more affordable areas such as Adabor, Lalmatia and Khilgaon.
Recently, the concept of residential/commercial property has gained a lot of popularity among the start-ups due to lower rents.
But regardless of type, the functionality of an office space tends to be more or less the same.
Just as a spaceship needs a launching pad to venture into space, start-ups need a hub that can serve as the nerve centre.
If the business in question is a retail shop or restaurant, the functional need for commercial space is unsurmountable. A quick look at some of the hottest eateries in Dhaka will show how and where they began.
The Popeyes coffee shop is a prime example of how start-ups can take full advantage of investing in space.
Today, they have several small and large outlets throughout capital Dhaka and are considered one of the foremost hangout places by the young generation.
But in the beginning, they only had a small shop in the still-growing Khilgaon area.
Aside from choosing the perfect location and a time-appropriate drink, they invested in a small space instead of a cart — like so many others — which was big enough for sitting about a dozen people.
This gave the up-and-coming coffee shop an edge over its more popular counterpart, the Apon Coffee House.
And now, similar to Popeyes, plenty of start-ups — both consumer and client-driven — have begun climbing the success ladder.
Just as there are many success stories of start-ups achieving greater things, thanks in part to having the right location and space, there are probably more stories of businesses failing due to underestimation or overestimation.
The common pitfall, however, is undervaluing the need for a proper office.
The fear of making any sort of investment on real estate — even if it is rental — prevents too many start-ups from gaining momentum.
There are undoubtedly plenty of businesses that have had great things to offer but failed to launch due to such fears.
Alternatively, there are also a number of enterprises that flew too high, too fast, by expanding and investing in real estate.
This sort of scenario is most common in the restaurant ventures where businesses invest a great deal or open new branches without properly analyzing the demand and necessity of such actions.
But when there is a proper balance, having space is a tremendous resource.
This asset has both functional as well as the psychological impact on the organization — and not just the extrinsic effect.
When there is an office, the entire aura of the venture becomes more formalized.
The investors and the partakers become accountable, determined and goal-oriented. As mentioned before, start-ups have a limited budget, and when a portion — usually significant — is spent on a base, the determination to “earn it back” intensifies.
So there is always the risk of letting things become too “loose” without a formal hub or sort.
There is another effect that is often seen in start-ups without an office space — the absence of drive.
When the entrepreneur does not feel the necessity to invest in a base, more often than not, they also do not feel the drive or need to succeed.
And stories of becoming “complacent” are certainly not unheard of.
While up until now it may have been felt that having a space is fundamental to a start-up’s success, such thought process would be incorrect.
There have been uncountable endeavours that have gone to become quite prosperous without investing in real estate during their initial stage.
Such organizations chose to invest in a base at a later time until they felt they needed to grow significantly.
So for some ventures, space may not be a “must-have” aspect, but it is, nonetheless, an instrumental aspect of growth.
Especially, when you take into account the fact that less than 50% of start-ups fail to cross the five-year mark.
The competition is incredibly high for start-ups in any field and any advantage or head start can greatly contribute to their success.