Posted: Mon 2nd Jul 2012
That's according to a study of 750 small enterprises by Brother UK, which found that more than a fifth (22%) of companies started in the last three years say they base themselves in local coffee shops and bars to help reduce their overheads.Â In fact, 69 per cent of respondents which started in the last six months had no office space compared to 48 per cent that launched before 2008. Of course, we're familiar with this trend at Enterprise Nation, having reported on The secrets of a coffee-loving freelancer and raised awareness of the various networking groups that promote casual co-working, such as Jelly and MeetUp. Then, of course, there's our own virtual version of cappuccino commerce - #Watercoolermoment, which takes place at 11am each weekday on Twitter. But it's great to see some confirmation of the change in working habits among the UK's smallest enterprises. Whether we're writers, designers, developers, crafters, consultants or even ecommerce businesses, we're embracing the developments in technology that allow us to work where we want, when we want in large numbers.
Technology has been the main driving force behind the surge in cappuccino commerce, according to the study, with 70 per cent of businesses saying new technology had been a major factor in their decision to go office-free. Seventy one per cent questioned said smartphones, mobile printing devices and laptop/tablet computers were the major enabler of their 'no fixed adobe' approach to business.Â And this tech-savvy outlook isn't restricted to the young, either: 76 per cent of over-55s cited enhanced technology for their ability to work flexibly, with 56 per cent of 35-54 year-olds questioned also supporting this view.
The majority of these flexible businesses (67%) of companies plan to stay office-free, with fewer than one in six worried about what clients think of them for not having an office. In fact, home office working remains the most popular choice for start -ups, with 72 per cent setting up shop from a spare room. At Enterprise Nation, we've been saying for years that most small enterprises can start up and grow without the need for costly premises. We've even written a book - Spare Room Start Up - that explains how to do it.
Most small businesses can operate from home or conduct much of their business from multiple locations, as long as there is wi-fi access. Alongside this on-the-go technology, we're also seeing a complementary rise in co-working spaces, virtual office services and short-term office and meeting room rental (as provided by EN partner Regus, for example). In fact, we're living through a revolution in the way small enterprises - or what we call 'homegrown businesses' operate. The tools are all there to bring the dream of running an independent business closer to many more people - and that can only be good for enterprise and good for the economy. So long may cappuccino commerce continue! With thanks to Brother UK for the stats.
Each weekday at 11am, we host a #watercoolermoment on Twitter, where you can down tools and have a chitchat with other independent workers like yourself. Just follow us on @e_nation, use the hashtag #watercoolermoment and join in the conversation.
Photo credit: Dave Stone