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Renting office space on a budget

Professional centers offer low-cost amenities such as a shared receptionist and conference rooms.

February 23, 2009|Cyndia Zwahlen

Some small businesses that try the office center concept discover the arrangement is not a good fit.

Tier One Tutors Inc. of Van Nuys spent a year at the upscale suites of Corporate Office Center in Glendale. After a few years as a home-based business, the 2004 start-up was looking for a more professional work environment.

"The rationale was to have access to conference room facilities, not have to worry about furnishing our own place and to create an atmosphere of professionalism," said Brian Mupo, who owns the academic and SAT preparation firm with Steve Dorfman.

They paid $3,200 for three offices, including a large four-person space.

As the owners got a better handle on their business, they realized they didn't need the amenities. Tutoring is done in clients' homes. And although the company needed a place to train tutors, "they don't need to come, necessarily, and see a $25,000 conference table," Mupo said.

He recommends small businesses be bold about negotiating with center managers. "A word of advice," he said. "They are willing to deal."


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