How To Start & Grow Your Business

Chapter 11: Setting up your office

Now we are into the everyday basics. Computers, desks and chairs, letterhead and business cards. Should you start at home or find a small office? The key is being practical, conserving finances but somehow not being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Ok let’s get you setup!

Where will you work?

Choosing a base for your business is not a complicated task but requires that you answer some simple questions. You’ve heard the stories about multi-million dollar businesses that began in a garage, college dorm or basement. But is that right or even possible for your business?

A home office is ideal if you are working on your own, have a quiet space and only need minimal equipment to run your business. You save the cost of renting space and the time and cost of traveling to work. This can be ideal for startups.

I want my office to be quiet. The loudest thing in the room – by far – should be the occasional purring of the cat.Linus Torvalds, Finnish software engineer

First, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you need an office?

If you’re running a web-based business and all you need is an Internet connection then your basement might be perfect! Whereas, if you hire employees, a home office may not be suitable.

  • Will customers visit you?

You’ll need a place to meet. Maybe if it’s infrequent then you don’t need an office but instead could meet at a coffee shop or some alternative. However, if you expect clients to visit regularly you probably need an outside office.

  • Will customers buy goods on your premises?

You may need a storefront in a good neighborhood or downtown location.

  • Are you manufacturing?

You’ll probably need an industrial factory to meet zoning regulations.

If you need to find an office, you’ve got several affordable options:

  • Shared office centers – These are small, open plan workspaces where entrepreneurs can work during the initial start-up period with no fixed-term contracts. Companies and individuals share services and may network closely on projects.
  • Managed offices – Managed offices are furnished spaces with the opportunity to share a reception area, conference room and telephone system.
  • Traditional commercial office – This is the easiest to find. Don’t start with too much space but consider the possibility, if you can afford it, to have the space for 1 or 2 extra workstations to grow into.

Tip from an Expert

John BaldoniManage your time. No one else will. Set yourself a strict schedule of when you will work. As well as when you will not. Initially you may do much of the work yourself. Sooner than later you will need to prioritize and that means delegating tasks to others. Determine what you do best and do it. Delegate everything else. And one more thing. Manage your time. [Repeat three times.]

John Baldoni, educator, executive coach and public speaker

Equipping your office

You’re setting up an office at home or in rented, unfurnished premises – what do you need?

  • Furniture – You can start with used furniture, but new good-quality, low-cost furniture is widely available on Amazon, so you may not need to compromise. Your office(s) can be as simple as desk, chair, meeting table and a filing cabinet to start.
  • Communications – A reliable telephone system and high-speed Internet connection are essential, particularly if you are running a web-based business.

Another must is a good smartphone that gives you access to email, Internet, data and office applications so you can work on the move.

  • Technology – Before you buy a computer, think about its use. Will you be working mainly in the office or will you need access when you’re visiting customers? A desktop PC limits you to the office, but a laptop, tablet or even a smartphone means you can continue to run your business on the move. A printer is a must. We highly recommend you get an affordable laser printer that’ll rarely need new expensive ink cartridges.

Did you know?

Seventy percent of small businesses are owned and operated by a single person.
–US Small Business Administration

  • Software – Before buying software, think about using cloud-based Software as a Service. You can get most office applications this way and you will always have the latest version without going through the pain of upgrades. Go to our chapter titled “Business Cloud Services” for our recommendations.
  • Business Letterhead – You can get great deals on new business letterhead, business cards and other essential printed items on the Internet. We recommend online suppliers like vistaprint, MOO or stationeryxpress that offer a variety of designs and print small quantities at affordable prices.
  • Brochures – When you produce your first brochure or product sheet, don’t go to the expense of printing hundreds of copies that might gather dust unless you will need them for trade shows. Most people are happy to download digital copies from a website.
Only 2% of small businesses are franchises – most (54%) are home-based.US Small Business Administration

You’ve incorporated your business, put the finance and accounting systems in place and moved into your office. You’re ready to “go live”, tell the world you’re in business and start making sales.