One of the most enjoyable things I’ve done as an entrepreneur is look for our first office, which we affectionately called The Dorm Room.
It was a simple 300-square-foot, one room office. We had a small closet and a window. We shared Internet for a while with the other tenants, until we need to hog it ourselves. No bills, just one monthly rent check – and a small one at that!
The shared bathroom even had a shower. (We didn’t use it but it was funny to tell people we could!)
And let me tell you … I absolutely loved it.
But we outgrew it fast … and it became uncomfortable as the A/C doesn’t work as well with 3 big guys in one small room.
I remember though when I first came to the realization that we were going to have to get that first office though and I loathed the thought. For the previous eight months I had been officing in our spare bedroom at home. My wife and I really enjoyed being together … and I had some great time to bond with our pup Fletch, who would sit in my lap while I tried to type.
But the first time I realized that The Dorm Room was my first official office for our business, I had a real feeling of accomplishment. However small that sounds, to me, we were legitimate somehow.
And because I like to bootstrap our business … I went to Sam’s Club and bought 6-foot white plastic folding tables — THE perfect desk in my opinion — and ergonomic chairs, along with a dorm fridge, water cooler and snacks.
Anyway, we’ve since moved to a bigger office to accommodate our growing staff, but we’ve kept the same white awesome plastic desks. Only now, yet again, we are having to think about new offfice space again!
So I just thought I’d give a couple of insights into my two searches for smaller offices ….
- Pick an office that’s easy to get to — I’ve tried to pick as central of an office I can, but because I work more hours than anyone (I’m at the office around 7:30ish and stay until 6:30 most days), I looked for an office near my own home … it’s also the best location for the majority of our team
- Drive around a lot — I went to all the areas I wanted to office from and just took notes of what I saw and called. We found our second office this way.
- Ask around a lot — I asked everybody I could about office space. Sadly, this was the least effective tool in finding a suitable office. But commercial realtors are probably the best people to ask.
- Look online — in particular, we found The Dorm Room through Craigslist, but found others through commercial realtors, although I’ll admit, for the small space we wanted, it was hard to find something.
- Consider Coworking Collaboratives like the Oklahoma City one — I’m not sure this would have been the best fit for us, but I found out about it after we had our first office and it seems like a haven for freelance web designers. I’d love to take a tour sometime.
- Ask for month-to-month leases and all bills paid — especially if you’re going to grow fast. Our landlord at The Dorm Room was very gracious and let us go monthly, which allowed us to expand easily, without penalties.
- Think seriously about actually getting a small office — I have a friend who has been officing out of his house for the last year or so and just got an office so he can write his first book. This tip is probably better served as a separate post. I’m a proponent of working OUTSIDE of your house after a certain time. It was a healthy move for me to get some segregation from work and home.
- Savor this time — my partners challenged me to cherish these times … these are the fun and exciting ones. At some points, as our little company grows, it could dangerously become … un-fun. More corporate than startup. More wood desks than white plastic tables (I hope not). But I remember cleaning out The Dorm Room and turning off the lights for the last time … I was indeed an entrepreneur. I had arrived. And knew I had arrived because I had to take out the trash, then go do it all over again at a new place with new memories.