I have an office, now what?

Old 8 Comments on I have an office, now what? 16

Through a connection with a family member I recently acquired some nice office space at *basically* free ($100 bucks a month) my problem is that I’ve designed my entire business to work from my MacBook. I have a small server that I use to backup client data for 6 months or so at a time. (Anytime I reformat a clients computer) and it also runs a couple instances of WordPress virtual machines. That server sits in my basement and I only ever interact with over VNC. That’s basically the sum of my companies physical infrastructure. So the question remains, just what the hell I am going to do with this place? I’ve had some thoughts.

I could go legit.

I start coming into my new shop in the morning, hang up an actual shingle and see if that drives more business. I could have a real mailing address and it would allow me to do a lot more customer interaction, which could mean a stronger network and likely more resources. It would also mean that my lifestyle would change, I couldn’t necessarily code in my underwear anymore. I would also have to now maintain this office and insure it. That may not be a bad thing. It would now physically separate my home life from work life, all of the blog posts and books say that you stop being effective after 45 or so hours of work in a week. All of the startup hipsters say you should only work 4 days a week, so that could be an option too I guess.

I could do something questionably ethical.

It’s a pretty large space and we’re all business people here right? I could rent out desk space just like one of those nice coworking locations you see in big cities. Provide amenities like WiFi, web hosting, email,  and Mailboxes, hell, that’s a whole other business in itself, and there is nothing like that in my area. This seems great, I’m a geek and that means I would get to network a whole building, basically provide small office infrastructure, and pick whatever platforms I wanted. So that tickles my entrepreneur and geek muscles. It’s questionably ethical because while this family member has offered this space cheap because I am family, they have also offered it to me to run my business. If I’m running *a* business that they assumed was IT consulting, and I turn out to be running a coworking facility it would likely translate in their minds as lost revenue from potential renters. (Which is not wrong).

I could just say thanks, but no thanks.

That’s the easy answer. I don’t expressly need an office space, I’m not exactly sure how to use one if I had one, and I would be freeing space for another renter for this family member. (Although the space may just stay empty.) So end of the day nothing changes, my business keeps going and so does theirs.

What would you do?

I’m really looking for some interaction here, I need the input of the hive-mind before I make a call. The office could be great for my current business, it could be great for a new business, there is likely a middle ground somewhere in there but I’m having trouble mashing it together. What would you do in my situation?  Have you ever been in a similar situation?

Author

Jimmy Simpson III

I work small and micro businesses (between 1 and 75 users). I offer WordPress Development, Virtual IT Director Services, System Administration and Web Hosting.

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8 Comments

  1. Jerin February 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Jimmy,
    This is coming from a 17 yr old so please keep that in mind. I’m going to take an “Eli” approach to this situation and say that “it depends” on what you want to do. Since you already have an established business running from your macbook and basement servers, you need to think about the future and your current situation. Is you business stable in the status quo and is there room to expand? If you expand in the future, what would it look like? Do I have the fund currently to support the rent on the office space and make effective use of it? Personally, if my online/consulting business was stable, and I had money to expand, I would accept the offer and then try and set up and office for your business and expand your current business however possible. If you are satisfied with were you are currently, I would politely reject the offer. Hope it helps!

    • Jimmy Simpson III February 24, 2014 at 8:39 am

      That does help! and congratulations on getting started in IT so early. I’m really interested in how my peers would handle the situation, so if I understood you correctly, you would try to expand if you could right?

      • Jerin Saji February 24, 2014 at 1:35 pm

        Glad it helped. Yes, I would try to expand if my business is in the position to do so. The goal of a business and as a owner as yourself is to make more money, create more relationships, and expand. It seems to me like you are making enough money with your basement servers. But, if you have aspirations to grow more, an office space would come in handy. Even if you think that it might be a few months until you can productively use the office space. It would still be worth having it. BUT, in your opinion, if there is absolutely no way you can make productive use of the office space in the foreseeable future, I would politely refuse it since you are happy with were you are in the status quo.

  2. Rick February 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    If you are delivering results from home, and you know that your income will keep growing as the days tick away. Then just stay home and keep doing your thing as you would normally. In the other case as a programmer myself sometimes being home can drive you a bit crazy not having human interactions with other people, isolation and depression sure kick in quickly. So there is some advantages of getting your own office space, you just have to weight out the difference and make the best decisions that fits you.

    • Jerin Saji February 24, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      I agree. For me, I’d imagine I would be pretty lazy sitting at home and I know that I would be much more productive if I was in a work environment. That is another advantage of getting the office space. It all depends on who you are and if you are satisfied with where you are in the status quo as a business.

  3. Daniel February 24, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Another option is to have a desk at the “office”, but also have “staff” to handle phones, mail, and customer interaction when you’re not there. Should you feel lonely working from home you could go to the office, but if you feel distracted by the activity in the office, go home and work. It could allow for expansion, yet not hamper your current creative environment. If the office space is close to home, even better.

    • Jimmy Simpson III February 24, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Staff is an interesting thought for sure. Actually hiring one is a nightmare though- employees are expensive! Maybe I need a “tony” like Eli has. Like a 1099 office manager or something? I wonder how common that is.

  4. Matthew February 24, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I have to agree with those that have already posted; this is a great opportunity, if you’re in the position to do so, to build your business.

    Think of it as a step to hiring that next programmer, you needn’t work there all the time, but it gives you a space to grow into. Bring somebody on-board perhaps with skills which compliment your own?

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