By Anh-Minh Le
Soon after I started my small business, a customer emailed asking to meet with me in my office. One major problem: I didn’t have an office.
Five years later, I still don’t. Back then, though, I wondered if I wouldn’t be taken seriously—that I wouldn’t be seen as a legitimate business—if I didn’t have an actual workspace. I considered “borrowing” a friend’s conference room to meet with the customer, but ultimately decided to just tell him that I didn’t have an office and had no plans for one. It turns out, he didn’t have any concerns about this. And that’s because there are some great benefits to the no-office approach.
If your job involves going to your customers’ homes or businesses, and you have no employees or a small number of them, here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re debating whether or not to secure an office space:
- No rent: This is a big deal, and definitely can impact your bottom line. No rent means my business doesn’t have much overhead. Keep in mind that having an office usually comes with additional costs such as insurance and utilities—not just the monthly payment to the landlord! And sometimes, I think my customers realize that by maintaining a low overhead, I’m not passing on additional charges to them to cover such expenses. As far as mail goes, paying for a mailbox—at the post office or UPS Store, for example—are often good, affordable options, if you want to avoid using your home address for business purposes.
- Utilize Breezeworks: With Breezeworks, you don’t even need to have a file cabinet. That’s because the app can eliminate files and paperwork. Chances are, you already have a smartphone—and that’s the only device you need to run Breezeworks. Use it to send invoices, receive payments, save customer data, and keep track of appointments—all of which allows you to handle the administrative part of your business from almost anywhere. In addition to the convenience, think of all the clutter you’ll be saving yourself from!
- Free wi-fi: There may be times when you need to sit down with a laptop. (Like when your eyes are tired of staring at a 2-by-3-inch screen.) Luckily, an increasingly number of businesses offer free wi-fi these days. So you can conveniently take a coffee or lunch break in-between appointments, and perhaps get online to order parts or other materials you need to complete a job. (If you’re on the road and not sure which places near you have free wi-fi, sites like Wi-Fi Free Spot can help.)