Setting up your PR consultancy office – manage overheads

To survive as an indie PR consultant and counselor you quickly need to master consultancy overheads. It’s as critical as handling your actual PR jobs and services. In his instructive book “Consultancy, Contracting and Freelancing“, author Ian Benjamin reckons that cars and office space are the two biggest outlays in setting up your consultancy. While your average consultant’s car comes tops his list at around $17-grand a year, Ian suggests that offices are the next most costly outlay. Of late, I’ve spent so much time travelling and consulting at client premises that I’ve looked at reducing my consultancy overheads. So, I’m currently test-driving (having pre-agreed to review) a more flexible concept in serviced office space provided by Bureaux. It gives me two office bases (Melbourne and Sydney), training and meeting rooms, wi-fi connection, local phone calls AND buffet breakfasts and lunch plus free coffee, tea and biscuits, currently at under $3k per year.
bureaux.jpg Bureaux serviced offices in Melbourne.

Style-wise, Bureaux Melbourne feels like a Qantas business lounge (but much quieter). It’s nicely furnished, technologically equipped and with some cool gallery artworks and news channel Plasmas adorning the walls. So far, I really feel it’s good value and a great idea for business types who spend a lot of time at client premises. My only gripes are privacy, a scaling-back of available soft drinks and the rationing of some buffet items which has manifested since I first took up residence. Here’s an outline cost list (based on what Ian Benjamin says) for setting up your consultancy business…
Consultant’s car at $17,000 per annum
Offices are around $10,000 per annum. (Bureau single members cost <$3k)
Average furnishings typically cost anywhere up to $8,000.
Your PC or Mac and software might sting you around $4,500.
With no permanent staff, ad hoc admin support might be around $4,000.
Your print costs for stationery and brochures might initially be around $5,000.
Then there are telecom costs professional services fees, advertising, utilities, professional development and memberships, superannuation and journal subscriptions.
I recall Benjamin’s book mentioning you might also consider ‘personal grooming’ costs for laser teeth-whitening and a new wardrobe!
So even if you’re not Scottish, you want to ‘be careful’ with your overhead costs, eh?
I asked Kelly at Bureaux to do me up a quick cost analysis of their serviced office competitors and she unearthed the following (tho am happy to be corrected):
ServeCorp: $143 per month, plus $264 per day room hire.
CSSO: $99 per day, excluding print/phones and internet
Asian Pacific: $800 per week, excluding print/phones and internet
Bureaux seems like a new breed of serviced office space; problem is, the more of you who join, the less exclusive it’ll be for an early adopter like me! Here’s a review of the concept from Business Week:
http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/feb2007/sb20070226_761145.htm
If you want to check their Melbourne or Sydney offices, contact them via their web and tell them you heard about them from me!!

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