Do you want to talk business? OK, let’s go to a coffee shop.
Many entrepreneurs don’t have their own offices and either work from home or meet clients at venues such as coffee shops. This week, whilst having a really productive meeting with a fellow business woman in a wonderful local cafe, it occurred to both of us that, to the casual outsider, it may have looked like two women just meeting for a bit of a catch up and a gossip.
Nothing could be further from the truth; we discussed strategic plans, growth strategies, recruitment, business development and made a follow up appointment to pursue a particular line of discussion.
There are lots of reasons why coffee shops (or similar) can be terrific venues for meetings if you are a start-up;
1. Cost – this is the big one. Many start ups are forced to begin at home on a shoestring. An office is out of the question, so where should you meet clients? Why not your local coffee shop?
2. Staring at your own kitchen wall can be boring – and let’s face it, not very motivating. By getting out there in the world, you are forced to interact with other human beings.
3. Professional. If you are working from home, ask yourself honestly if it will impress clients. Even if your home is immaculate, it does create a certain ‘impression’ – i.e. your taste and style is going to be on show isn’t it? Not to mention potentially your children, pets and neighbours. And if your house is not immaculate, then what customer is genuinely going to think more of you if they see your smalls drying on the radiator, or the dog has just been sick in the hall?
4. Your clients might not have an office either. So it is a great neutral meeting point.
5. If you are minded to do so, you will be supporting local business. I would encourage you to use independents rather than big chains wherever you can – let’s face it, if you are in the small business sector, you probably want to support other small businesses don’t you? The money you spend there might be ploughed back indirectly to you.
6. Coffee shop owners know lots of people, so take the trouble to get to know them and they might even pass you leads from time to time.
7. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been in a meeting with one person and someone else I know comes in. This creates an opportunity to both network and link up your contacts with one another, helping everyone.
8. You can claim back your cappuccino as part of reasonable expenses.
So what’s not to like? Go on, get yourself out there!
I unashamedly want to thank entrepreneur Jacqueline Ahwazian and Cafe Occo in Enfield, for providing the inspiration for this blog!
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