Lesson 6: Choosing the Right Location

What You’ll Learn: In the old days, a new business meant a storefront. But now storefronts can be virtual, new business enterprises can be run out of a spare bedroom, or they can move into a makerspace or co-working space to build partnerships and synergies with other startups and small businesses. We’ll examine the many options and walk you through the good, the bad and the ugly of each.

Choosing the Right Location

“There are three things that matter: location, location, location.”

Lord Harold Samuel

Introduction

O.K., so Lord Samuel was talking about property, not a business. But the logic is the same. Choosing the right location can be a key to your success since it has a direct bearing on your budget, marketing, logistics, connectivity, workforce and customers. There are lots of choices these days, from coworking spaces, maker spaces and commissary kitchens to accelerators, incubators, and, of course, good ol’ brick and mortar.

In the ensuing sections, we will walk you through the advantages and disadvantages for each. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pick just one. Over the course of your business’ lifetime, you may move from a spare bedroom to a coworking space to a bricks and mortar. There’s no direct pathway to business growth and know your options will help you maximize your growth potential without bursting at the seams.

The Home Office

Before we move through some of the newer options out there, let’s look at the tried and true way of starting a business – the home. More than 50% of all small businesses have been started in a home. Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and Disney were all started in a garage, basement or spare bedroom.

There are a lot of upsides to starting out small and at home, but it’s not for everyone.

If you’re serious about basing your business out of your home, even it is just temporary, here are some things to consider:

Mindset. Running a business out of your home can be filled with distractions, from the warm bed in the next room to the TV and refrigerator upstairs. If you’ve telecommuted during the pandemic, you know how distracting the comforts of home can be. Ask yourself if you have the discipline to maintain focus.

Separating life and livelihood. No business is 8 to 5, especially in the beginning. But you need to find a comfortable balance between work and play and set boundaries from the get-go. Checking your email every five minutes because a big project is supposed to get the green light is fine now and then, but not day in and day out. A business can be a very cruel mistress, one that can severely affect your home life and relationships if you let it.

Customer comfort. Thankfully, this isn’t as big of an issue as it once was. Coworking spaces (more on these in a minute) and local coffee cafes allow you to meet in a more professional, or at least less personal, place. Nothing says amateur more than a two-year-old wandering into a meeting or having your prospect distracted by your pirate-themed basement.

Your Instructors

Denise Dumouchel has spent her entire career in education and nonprofit administration and currently, is the Executive Director of BARN on Bainbridge Island. She completed her Ph.D. in Environmental Studies in 2003, focusing on experiential learning, human development, and teacher education. Whether crafting stories, carving wooden spoons, or swimming in Puget Sound, Denise enjoys balancing the big picture with the intricacies of day-to-day experiences.

Alanna Imbach and her husband Marcel left the concrete jungle of NYC  for salty-sweet Northwest beaches, fresh air, skiing, kayaking, grandparents, and brewery hopping to become Co-Founders of Vibe Coworks in Poulsbo. It has become home for freelancers, commuters, remote workers and entrepreneurs as a shared workspace and co-working community to support Kitsap’s modern professionals in their quest to commute less, connect more and have an escape from their lonely home offices.

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Using words wisely. Running a business out of your home may freak some people out. You can compensate for it by using corporate vocabulary as you conduct business at home. Things like “I’m in the cafeteria” instead of “the kitchen” and “fulfillment center” instead of “garage.” It’s O.K. to sound like you’re larger than you are, as long as you don’t lie if someone asks you where your business is located.

Space to spread out. You want to find a dedicated space to run your business, ideally one with a door. A garage can work too, especially if your business sells products that are warehoused and shipped. Keep your office out of the main bedroom. Boundaries, remember?

 

Advantages of a Home-Based Business

  • You can run it part-time.
  • There’s no commute.
  • Startup and operating costs are low.
  • Work hours are flexible.
  • There are home office tax benefits.
  • You can work in your jammies.
  • Family members can help out in a pinch.

 

Disadvantages of Home-Based Business

  • Space can be at a premium, especially if your business and family are growing at the same time.
  • Family life can be disrupted by tight deadlines and the need to have “quiet time” for a meeting.
  • You can feel isolated and lonely, ending up in a rut because you lack networking opportunities or social interactions.
  • Balancing family and work demands can be difficult, such as keeping on task when the kids come home from school and want to tell you about their day.
  • Neighbors may begin filing complaints if you have too many customers visiting your home.
  • It can be hard to establish consistent working-at-home patterns.
  • Customers or clients may feel uneasy about meeting in your home.
  • Did we mention the refrigerator?
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