The Entrepreneur: Niki Fuchs, Office Space in Town
With a business generating over £14m in revenues, this female property entrepreneur advocates setting realistic goals, 'trusting nobody', and learning on the job...
Co-founder: Giles Fuchs and Niki Fuchs
Company: Office Space in Town (OSiT)
Description in one line: Boutique serviced office provider
Previous companies: City Executive Centers
Turnover: £14,471,834 (2015)
12 month target: 2016 turnover will be circa £17.25m
Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:
- Office Space in Town is a high-design serviced office provider
- We operate a unique freehold model which allows greater investment into the design and facilities of the building
- Workplaces are flexible, located in prime city centres and offer HQ-level facilities
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
Securing backing from global real estate investor Forum Partners was a key moment for the business. It changed our fortune and ambitions. Being backed financially by Forum Partners allowed us to launch our first serviced office joint venture LSO I, and acquire our first three London-based serviced office buildings in Liverpool Street, St. Pauls and Waterloo.
Two years later in 2014, we launched the second joint venture LSO II, and acquired a further serviced office building in 20. St. Dunstans, Monument.
What numbers do you look at every day in your business?
I look at the number of enquiries from prospective tenants and occupancy rates across our portfolio of serviced offices.
These figures are an important indication of how well the business is doing, and helps us measure occupancy levels as well as appetite from prospective tenants.
To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?
We’re a UK-based business with strong ambitions to expand our operations and portfolio of serviced offices within the UK. There is strong international demand for serviced offices and we see potential for our business model and offering to grow domestically, continuing to attract global and UK tenants.
Describe your growth funding path:
Earlier this year, we announced that Kailong – a leading Chinese real estate asset manager – had invested in our two London serviced office joint ventures. Kailong took a majority stake in our first joint venture, LSO I, replacing global real estate investors Forum Partners, which initially backed the serviced office vehicle.
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Shanghai-based Kailong also took a majority stake in our second joint venture, LSO II, in which Forum Partners remain an active partner and shareholder.
Being backed by two major global property investors gives us the confidence to seek further quality assets and to expand our portfolio of serviced offices.
What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?
Businesses are demanding more from the offices they occupy and serviced office providers must offer the most innovative technologies at any point in their buildings.
All our serviced office buildings have blanket WiFi access and connectivity between meeting rooms. Equally important, our staff are all trained and have bespoke tech knowledge allowing them to respond quickly to any tenant queries and concerns.
Where would you like your business to be in three years?
Our revenue has more than tripled over the last three years and I would hope this positive and encouraging trend continues.
Our figures for 2016 so far indicate a sustained increase in revenue – up from £14.47m in 2015. This continues the promising year-on-year growth in revenues experienced by OSiT in previous years.
We can expect political uncertainty in the UK and abroad to have a positive impact on the serviced office market, as more companies will look for flexible office arrangements. Recent deals in UK commercial property driven by Asian investors are encouraging, and I’m confident that investment in UK commercial property, and the serviced office market in particular, will grow.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?
You always want to give your staff more opportunities, and some of the most difficult decisions are when I have had to turn down a great opportunity because the moment is not right. Equally challenging is coping with the delicate balance of committing fully to work engagements, while also trying to allocate time for the family.
This balance is difficult to achieve and always requires sacrifices which are not always easy to make.
What was your biggest business mistake?
Not making an important decision quick enough. In business, it is crucial to make the right decisions at the right time – which is easier said than done!
Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:
Red tape hasn’t impacted our business.
What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
Being overly optimistic about their business proposition and idea and over extending themselves in terms of cash requirements.
How will your market look in three years?
We are confident that investment will continue to flood into the UK commercial real estate and that the serviced office sector more widely will continue to thrive.
Despite political and economic uncertainty following the EU referendum vote, we have seen the service office market thrive as businesses look for greater flexibility to expand or moderate their growth at short notice.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?
Don’t be so bullish about your idea. Recognise that even a great business idea will always take much longer to realise than expected.
Entrepreneurs need to be realistic – and measured in their projections for the business.
Having a company car (Range Rover!) and being able to help staff when needed and giving perks to keep everyone satisfied.
Executive education or learn it on the job?
Learnt it on the job.
What would make you a better leader?
Being more disciplined with time management and managing myself better.
What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?
There are two things I would highlight:
- Treat everybody as you would like to be treated.
- Trust nobody but don’t become cynical.
One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:
- Personal app: CityMapper – the best app which helps me get around London!
- Business app: TinyScanner – very handy app which allows me to scan everything and not have to carry hard copies.
Eat That Frog! Get More of the Important Things Done Today by Brian Tracy and Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.