Due to an influx in technology, Chicago is awash with small to midsize businesses trying to make their mark on the city. These companies may have great reputations in their home cities, but doing business in Chicago is its own beast. The key to setting yourself apart as a business owner in Chi-Town is to go the extra mile. Not only should you be providing top-notch services, but you should also be a center of influence. The longer you spend in the Windy City, the more you’ll begin to realize it’s a city founded upon community, tight-knit neighborhoods and personal recommendations. With all of that in mind, here’s how to get down to business the Chicago way.
Build an authentic network. Your network is a direct representation of you and your business, so it’s important to cultivate your professional circle with care. But how do you build an impeccable network? Make it personal. It’s obvious when someone is networking just to add another connection to their LinkedIn profile. Chicagoans build networks on authentic relationships which is why you need to not only take a vested interest in a person’s business, but also them as a person. When your intentions are genuine, your network will begin to fall into place.
Offer up your network. The first step in creating lifelong working relationships with a client or someone in your professional circle is to provide the best service within your industry. From there, you set yourself apart from your competitors by offering up the impeccable professionals you have in your network. Identify people in your circle who are great at what they do and refer them to people who need those services. In Chicago, the best way to get business is to send business, but you have to be intentional. Creating a solid reputation for you and your business is a marathon not a sprint, and there’s no better way to create a lasting impression than making a thoughtful introduction.
Show up. Connections continually need to be maintained. Like we mentioned above, you won’t get anywhere in Chicago by creating surface-level relationships. Keeping a strong professional circle is more than just referring business to each other — you have to make yourself available. Represent your brand by looking up events and places your network is attending or hosting and show up. If you become an active supporter of your network, you can expect that same support to be reciprocated when you need it.
Utilize these tips to make the most of your business’ presence in Chicago, and if you’re in need of a new office space to get your move started, let us know how we can help.
This Executives Breakfast inspired a number of great discussions and offered Chicago business leaders the opportunity to broaden their networks.
At the Executives Breakfast, attendees discussed “Is there a defining moment or decision you’ve made that has helped shape your career?” Here are the responses:
Jill Kushner Bishop, PhD, Founder & CEO, Multilingual Connections: Wanting to start a business for a while but had a comfortable position. HR director had made some unethical decisions and she spoke out and was given resignation later. Was Named Evanston business person of the year!
Jaclyn Moser, Partner, Harken Interiors: Was helping facilitate creative work and wasn’t getting the right fit from the current job. Wasn’t being fulfilled. Seeing the fruits of their labor.
Brian Black, Relationship Development Manager, Tenant Advisory Group: When he met Bill, he felt he was a genuine guy. When spoke with Mark Meyer he suggested a lane change for his career.
Matt Field, President, Express Employment Professionals – Used a recruitment firm and it was a terrible experience.
Chris Sommers & Jaclyn Moser, Founders & Partners, Harken Interiors: Getting paired up with Jaclyn and seeing how well they worked together.
Nanette McCarthy, Principal Partner, Griffin McCarthy & Rice: It started from previous employment and she met her partner there. She saw that the client’s best interest was not being met. She and her partners started their own firm to put their client’s best interests first.
Robert Natke, Partner, UrbanWorks: Just graduated from architectural school. He went back for an MBA and that changed his approach to architecture.
Max Adelman, State Farm Insurance Agent, Max Adelman State Farm: He was premed at home for break. His family told him to not be a doctor.
Joe Blandford, CEO, Greatline Communications: Had a job and got a new boss. His boss was a difficult person to work for and he left. After surviving cancer, he changed perspective. He has 4 daughters.
Cathy Jama, Executive Vice President, Tenant Advisory Group, LLC: Had a meeting with Bill and is now working with the TAG team. Surround yourself with positivity.
Laurel Bellows, Founding Managing Partner, Bellows Law Group, P.C. & Past President, American Bar Association: Met her future husband and current law partner. She wanted to be a trial lawyer when women weren’t allowed to be lawyers. He was looking to train a woman to be a trial lawyer. Who stands in front of a jury and builds a relationship within 30 seconds, a man or a woman?
Percy Haley, Partner, Black Rhino Financial GroupF: Decided to switch careers from banking. Prayed about it and he met his partner Darryl.
Jamie Horn, Partner, Digital Experience and Marketing Recruiting: Her dad never encouraged her to get into the business. She did an internship in commercial real estate and came out of school in a recession.
Chris Salvi, Co Founder, Salvi Media: Interviewing a glioblastoma caretaker. Made him realize the power of the story.
Amber Autumn, VP of Business Development, Summit Design & Build: Her dad was a brick mason and he took her to jobs. When she was 8, her dad said do you want to go to work with me or stay home with your mom and clean the house?
Dane Sanders, Director of Capital Markets, Black Rhino Financial Group: Wife, and 3 kids were the defining moment. A client said you really helped me.
Rick Sudekum, Managing Partner, Sudekum, Cassidy & Shulruff: when some younger partners came to him and convinced him to start a new firm. Living values. 10 commandments. Do unto others.
Mark Meyer, Founder, E&M Strategic Development: Was a banker at Associated. Had a cushy job. He was approached by someone to go to straight commission and left salary. He has started 7 different businesses since. He cames back to relationships and began doing the right things. Do what you say you’re going to do.
Ivan Vislavskiy, Co-Founder and CEO, Comrade Web Agency: inspired by his old boss. He loved him and thought very highly of him. He wanted to be like his boss. Decided needed balance in his life.
Chuck Gullet, Managing Broker, Best Chicago Properties: Has 13 yrs at Caterpillar. The moment of clarity was during Pearl Jam at Lollapalooza. Realized he needed to move to Chicago.
Cyrus Rivetna, Principal, Rivetna Architects Inc: Was doing everything for his business and took the plunge and hired his first employee. Changed his mentality that he can delegate. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you’re doing the wrong thing.
Max Adelman, State Farm Insurance Agent, Max Adelman State Farm
Laurel Bellows, Founding Managing Partner, Bellows Law Group, P.C. & Past President, American Bar Association
Tim Van Mieghem, Partner, Proaction Group
Dave Norris, COO, RedRidge Finance Group
Chuck Gullet, Managing Broker, Best Chicago Properties
Amber Autumn, VP of Business Development, Summit Design & Build
Laura Dribin, CEO & Founder, Peritius Consulting
Dane Sanders, Partner- Director of Capital Markets, Black Rhino Financial Group
Max Adelman, CEO, Max Edelman State Farm
Joe Blandford, President, Greatline Communications
Matt Field, President, Express Employment Professionals
Chris Sommers & Jaclyn Moser, Founders & Partners, Harken Interiors
Percy Haley, Partner, Black Rhino Financial Group
Jill Kushner Bishop, Ph.D., Founder & CEO, Multilingual Connections
Nanette McCarthy, Principal Partner, Griffin McCarthy & Rice
Andy Mack, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, SnapMobile
Chris Salvi, Co-Founder, Salvi Media
Robert Natke, Partner, UrbanWorks
Rick Sudekum, Managing Partner, Sudekum, Cassidy & Shulruff
Jaclyn Moser, Partner, Harken Interiors
Brian Black, Relationship Development Manager, Tenant Advisory Group
Joe Blandford, CEO, Greatline Communications
Cathy Jama, Executive Vice President, Tenant Advisory Group, LLC
Jamie Horn, Partner, Digital Experience and Marketing Recruiting
Mark Meyer, Founder, E&M Strategic Development
Ivan Vislavskiy, Co-Founder and CEO, Comrade Web Agency
Cyrus Rivetna, Principal, Rivetna Architects Inc
Every month, Tenant Advisory Group hosts an Executives Breakfast and an Executives Luncheon to provide an opportunity for Chicago business leaders to build new, meaningful connections and discuss topics relevant to running a business.
During the Executives Lunch, attendees were prompted with the question, “Some of our best referral sources can be existing clients. What do you do to stay in front of your current client base?” Here are a few of the lessons shared in response:
Thanks again for taking the time to attend and please remember to follow up with those you might have synergies with. A rising tide lifts all boats!
Bill Himmelstein, Founder & CEO, Tenant Advisory Group, LLC: I have found that by offering value such as the opportunity to meet other business owners and potential clients, they will show up. Asking a business owner how you can best support them is a wonderful way to go from vendor to partner.”
Ian Stevenson, Partner, Straight North: Reminder in the calendar every 6 months to touch base.”
Morrie Elstien, President, MorrieCONNECT: How can I help you grow your business and who can I connect you with? Best way to get a payback is to give something upfront. They need to ask how they can help you back.
Randy Bridgeman, Partner, Perkins Coie: Getting out of your office and meeting your clients and going to networking events with them. Have a proactive relationship with your clients.
Barbara Best, Founding Partner & Principal, Capital Strategies Investment Group: Focus on what you can do to support other people. Do a value add newsletter and video. “What can I do to help you?”
Paola Meinzer, Partner, Manning Silverman CPAs: Leave an audience with something they can take with them. Get engaged with committees and organizations.
Jonathan Rothstein, Senior Vice President, MB Financial Bank: Making strategic introductions for clients to help them grow their business. I try to get together quarterly in person, but a phone call works if needed. Have speakers and host events.
Gary Parenti, CFO, Worsek & Vihon: guest of Jonathan Rothstein: Do lots of writing and put good information out there. Don’t do much electronically on purpose. Try to keep personal service as much as possible.
Tim Schumm, Founder & President, Lucas James Talent Partners: View yourself as a partner rather than a vendor. Bend over backward for each client and do whatever you can do for them.
Stefanie Jenkins, Director of Business Development, Vault Innovation Group: Have quarterly panel sessions for clients to speak in front of their other clients.
Ed Grasse, Managing Partner, Busse, Busse & Grasse: Stay ahead of the law and let clients know he is on top of it.
Rasheed Hammouda, CEO, BridgeFT: Need a scalable way to stay in front of clients. Need to consistently deliver value to clients.
Justin Frick, co-owner, AV Chicago: Reaching out to clients when new product offerings, new ideas and new clients who are doing something cool. Knowing customers and have that personal touch.
Jeff Asperger, Partner, Meltzer Purtill & Stelle LLC: Write blogs and small articles that may be of interest to them. Follow up with emails and telephone calls.
Stephen Beriau, Managing Director, Encina Business Credit: Stay in front with good information.
Erryn Cobb, CEO, Fetch IMC: 30% of revenue was from referrals from existing clients. Offer a referral fee to clients who refer them.
Eric Masi, President, Torque Digital Marketing: Post something on LI that’s both business and personal.
Ruth Minnick, Global Business Development Manager, Client Executive, Unispace: Make introductions for clients. Hosts quarterly events focused on different industries. Write articles and white papers. Reach out with a survey at each stage of the project.
Scott Simpson, Owner, Scott Simpson Builders: Have a 3-year warranty that keeps them in front of their clients.
Mark Mann, Managing Partner, Mann Weitz & Associates: In touch with clients once a month for advice. Give out referrals to attorneys, insurance and wealth advisors.
If you’re a business owner with 20+ employees who are interested in attending future TAG events, please email Bill Himmelstein at Bill@TagCommercialBroker.com.
Gary Parenti, CFO, Worsek & Vihon – guest of Jonathan Rothstein
Dan Yost, Principal, Employee Benefit Consulting Group – guest of Bill Himmelstein
Mike Olson, Director of Acquisitions, DecisionOne Dental – guest of Bill Himmelstein
Mark Mann, Managing Partner, Mann Weitz & Associates – guest of Barbara Best
Scott Simpson, Owner, Scott Simpson Builders – guest of Morrie Elstien
Ian Stevenson, Partner, Straight North – guest of Morrie Elstien
Randy Bridgeman, Partner, Perkins Coie – guest of Morrie Elstien
Stephen Beriau, Managing Director, Encina Business Credit – guest of Morrie Elstien
Eric Masi, President, Torque Digital Marketing – guest of Ruth Minnick
Paola Meinzer, Partner, Manning Silverman CPAs
Ed Grasse, Managing Partner, Busse, Busse & Grasse – guest of Stefanie Jenkins
Justin Frick, co-owner, AV Chicago – guest of Jeff Asperger
Rasheed Hammouda, CEO, BridgeFT – guest of Tim Schumm
Erryn Cobb, CEO, Fetch IMC
Barbara Best, Founding Partner & Principal, Capital Strategies Investment Group
Jonathan Rothstein, Senior Vice President, MB Financial Bank
Tim Schumm, Founder & President, Lucas James Talent Partners
Jeff Asperger, Partner, Meltzer Purtill & Stelle LLC
Ruth Minnick, Global Business Development Manager, Client Executive, Unispace
Morrie Elstien, President, MorrieCONNECT
Stefanie Jenkins, Director of Business Development, Vault Innovation Group
Bill Himmelstein, Founder & CEO, Tenant Advisory Group, LLC
Selecting the perfect location for your office is no easy task. It is vital to consider factors that will satisfy clients as well as employees. Keep in mind these important elements when searching for your new office location.
You want a space which clients can find easily and employees can comfortably commute to – perhaps close to public transportation or with a parking lot if many clients and employees will drive to reach you. Consider where your key employees live and whether the space is convenient for them.
Think about what sorts of amenities you’d like in the surrounding area. Are there restaurants nearby for client meetings or are you close to any green space your employees can utilize to unwind and stay active? While the inside of your space is incredibly important, the area you’re located in provides an important first impression of your business.
If you have multiple offices, it’s imperative to understand what the commute between the two spaces will be like. Just as it’s important to have accessible transportation from your home to your office, it’s also important to secure a location that ensures an accessible commute amongst your various office locations.
Take note of potential partners in your desired location. Situating your new office within a hub relevant to your industry can make all the difference in the ease of your partnerships and business deals. You are who you surround yourself with, so make sure you’re seeking spaces that work hard for your company.
Community culture means a variety of things depending on the area in which you’re looking. It’s essential to understand what role your business will play in the local culture. Does this culture align with your company’s values? What role would your company play in this community? Assimilation into your area is a necessity for success in your new location.
While there are many things to consider when choosing a location for your office, it all boils down to figuring out what your company needs to succeed and choosing a location that fits those ideals.
Where you work matters. That’s why we’ve partnered with an online software platform to make it easy to search for spaces that are specific to your needs. All you need to do is enter your information here, and you will be given access to a database of office space listings complete with virtual tours, floor plans and all-in monthly prices. Finding the space of your dreams is only aclick away.
Companies are always tweaking their work environments to boost productivity and employee satisfaction, but are they running out of ways to change the office? Not yet. Businesses are electing to create outdoor office spaces to help staff relax and reconnect with nature. However, are outdoor office spaces a good idea?
A well-designed outdoor office space makes for an effective recruiting tool, attracting top talent to the unique design. It increases employee satisfaction, reduces turnover and boosts productivity. Allowing employees to wander outside to work will give them more of a feeling of freedom, exposing them to much-needed natural lighting and fresh air. It can also contribute to the company culture, as an outdoor workspace offers a relaxed, casual way to connect across departments.
Weather can be unpredictable and sometimes brutal. Outdoor workplaces will be unusable for a large chunk of the year, due to cold, heat, wind, rain, etc. Another downside of an outdoor workspace is it can be more difficult to keep secure. There is also a fine line to walk when creating an outdoor workspace, as it can quickly become a distraction if it is too recreation-centric.
The Right Mix
If executed properly, an outdoor workspace can add a fun, unique dimension to an office. A large majority of the office should remain indoors while still incorporating outdoor elements such as natural lighting and plants. Well-developed indoor spaces will always be necessary, especially for roles that demand an environment with limited noise and distractions.
Corporations are finally thinking outside of the box and creating outdoor workspaces where employees can elect to work in a new setting or simply recharge. With the reversal in workspace design comes a number of benefits and pitfalls. However, as with most office designs, the best layout incorporates a mixture of styles to cater to every unique employee.
Organizing the layout of your new office space is about more than just configuring desks — this complex art is actually an important contributor to your overall company culture and happiness! You’ll need to consider important factors like gathering areas, noise level and relaxation stations. Here are a few key factors to keep in mind while planning a new office space.
Remember the Employees
Employees will spend a significant amount of time in the new office, so it’s important to consider their wants and needs to increase workplace satisfaction. A well-designed office should adapt to the needs of the workers, and match the culture of your company. For example, a collaborative business will want an open space and less private offices, as that will promote communication. Space planning can also set aside an area where employees can personalize their work environment to create a sense of ownership and encourage productivity.
Plan for the Future
A company is never done growing, so leaving room for expansion when space planning can save money down the road. Consider how fast growth will happen and how many employees the company may need to accommodate down the road. Don’t forget about storage as well. How much will your company need? Every business has different storage and filing needs, but it is always a critical aspect of a successful office layout.
Attract Top Talent
Proper space planning can create an inviting place to work, allowing you to attract top talent. Everything you can do to increase the quality of life for your employees will be reflected in the productivity of your office. Americans spend almost as much time at the office as they do at home, so building an office space that makes your employees happy is vital to the success of a company. It is definitely worth the extra budget to create an inviting and comfortable work environment.
Companies with several departments may want more than one type of layout within the office, as each department may thrive in different layouts. (Accounting may want cubicles, marketing may want an open floor plan and executives may want private offices). Working with an established broker will give you access to other professionals, such as an architect, who can help design your office layout.
There are never enough hours in the day when you’re a small business owner. Try adding relocating your business to your list, and you’ll really have your head spinning. While important, finding a new office is a daunting task and can soak up drastic amounts of time. Thankfully, there are Chicago Commercial Real Estate professionals who want to help you.
Find a Space
With a sea of options available, how do you narrow it down to the handful of spaces that are perfect for your business? A large part of a broker’s job is to understand the market and what’s available for potential tenants. A commercial real estate professional will be able to identify what your business needs, and find the right space much more efficiently than you could, saving you time and frustration.
Schedule Walkthroughs and Meetings
Scheduling meetings with landlords and space walkthroughs take much more time than you’d think, taking away from the day-to-day of running your business. Commercial brokers will simplify the process by prescreening the space to ensure it’s worth your time to visit. From there, they will work with your schedule to find the best time to tour the space. The added benefit of having a broker on your side during a meeting is their knowledge of the market and fair lease terms, which can provide additional negotiating leverage
Negotiation and Paperwork
Negotiating a commercial real estate lease requires skill and knowledge of what can and can’t be conceded. While an attorney’s role in the lease negotiation process serves to minimize risk, a commercial broker’s role is to minimize cost. Only a season professional, who is keenly aware of the market, will know what to ask for with regard to items such as tenant improvement dollars and rent abatement. Your broker’s intimate knowledge of commercial leases will help ensure you are getting the best possible terms.
Chicago real estate is all about local market knowledge. Working with a professional who is an expert in their discipline can save you an immense amount of time, money and frustration.