So you having a small business, consulting or developing an actual product/service. You’ve been doing this awhile or maybe you just started.
How do you know you’re ready to get a real office that isn’t a corner of your living room?
- Income Level
- Longterm Sustainability
- Target Audience
Are you making enough to afford an office? This may seem like a trick question, but sometimes you can feel pressure to get an office to demonstrate a good front to customers and competitors. If you just keep meeting people at Starbucks, how does that look?
If you can’t afford an office, then you need one. Customers care that you care for them, not necessarily what foot you put forth. If you have a big oak desk and leather armchairs with a fancy Italian coffee maker and jazz music playing in the waiting area, customers won’t care. They will appreciate it but if that compromises the service or even puts you out of business in 6 months, not good.
Customers want the real you, at least the good ones do.
Is your income lasting for many moons? If you can afford it for 3-6 months because of a sweet contract you got, but after that is still uncertain, don’t bother. Make sure you can weather the ebbs and flows of business. You may have secured a cozy project this time but the next one might not pan out. You are better off saving up for leaner times than splurging and then falling apart.
You should weather for at least 2 years to know for certain. I know it seems like a long time and these days, an eternity, but business is seasonal. You could be hopping in spring and summer but during fall and the holidays, you struggle. You don’t know all of this after just one year, so another year will give you a better data set to work with.
It will also give you time to build up a steady client base and be more comfortable making changes.
Who is your target audience? Are you working with consulting clients who meet you face to face? Are you developing a product or service online?
If you are a web developer who works online, you don’t need to go to an office just to not talk to people. You can do that at home. If you meet clients, then an office would make sense as long as it follows the sustainability rule and income rules listed above.
Once you grow and start hiring people, again sustainably, then you can consider getting an office so you aren’t just huddling in your basement.
The cliche is Apple and Microsoft starting in basements and then going big, which is viable. If you want an office, go right ahead. If you don’t, that works too.