If you are an entrepreneur and just started your own business, should you rent an office space or not? In this episode, Erik shares his experience with his office-based situation when he first started on his own.
Erik J. Olson (00:01):
What to do about office space? What is happening? This is Erik J. Olson, your host of the Journey to $100 million. All right. Entrepreneurs, you just started your own business. Should you rent an office space or not? I want to share my experience with you and maybe you can glean something that is useful to you. So for me, you know, by the way, this is, this is all in my book Million Dollar Journey. It’s on Amazon. If you wanna check it out, I’ve got an audio book, Kindle, physical book, every kind of book you could imagine <laugh> it’s out there. So I tell the story about my office based situation when I first started on my own. Well, actually when I first started, I was working on base. So me and a buddy, we started a, a, a two man government contracting company. I lasted for four years.
We didn’t really take it in the right direction. And then, and, and so I, I don’t talk about that phase of life that often because I feel like my, even though that was four years of learning and whatnot, I made, of course I made a bunch of mistakes. I did a few things, right. I wasn’t on my own until four years later. So that was in 2013, I think is when I kind of went off on my own. Wow. It’s been nine years that I’ve been on my own. And then, yeah. And another four years before that with a, with a partner doing basically a two man company. So in 2013 him and I split up the contract that we worked on for the government was over and it was time to go off on my own. And so I, I had a laptop, I had a cell phone and I had some clients because I had been doing some nights and weekends work.
And I had a bunch of clients, a couple clients, two or three clients that I was working for. And I, I knew that I had work to do so. I was like, all right, I got about 50% of the income that I’m used to from these small number of clients. So I set up shop at home and I started to work from the dining room table. Literally I would, I would take my backpack in the morning. I would take the laptop out and I put the cell phone next to it on the dining room table, and I’d start working. And I would work until the kids got home and they were young at the time. So they were getting home, you know, relatively early, like two or something like that, two 30 and I’d spend some time with them and then I’d go and I’d continue to work.
And you know, my wife would take them and get them doing their homework or whatever. But by dinner time, say six o’clock it was time to use the dining room table. And so I would put myself back in the backpack and I would have dinner. And if I needed to work at night afterwards, I would, but I, I did this for about a week, but what I discovered is that there were just a, a ton of distractions at home. You know, family, family has, they have needs. And if you’re there, then you’re gonna get distracted either by
Erik J. Olson (02:58):
Them, you know, requesting your attention, or like you, like what, you know, you, you figure out a reason to get distractions. Anyways, I, I had a lot of distractions there and I knew that I, I needed to focus a lot more in order to have a go with this for real. And so I, I searched for office space and I was looking really just for like an individual room office. And what I discovered was that about 15 minutes down the road, there was a accounting firm that had one office for rent. And then they had the rest of the building effectively. And I rented that month to month for $400 a month. And I was a little concerned for something like, oh, I’m taking on this expense cuz before it was just a laptop. And I had, that was paid off. I had no expenses.
I had like no expenses. So I took on this expense of a $400 rent. And but I realized if I couldn’t, if I couldn’t make this work with just $400 in expenses, then something was really, really wrong. $400 is not gonna impact your business one way or the other. So I, I did it and everything was fine. It was really nice to, to have some focus time. But what I also realized is I was working alone in this office. I didn’t really interact with the other people in the, in the accounting office much because like they had their own stuff going on. So it was a little lonely. I would find myself kind of like leaving, go to the bank to walk to 7-11. And as we grew I got more and more work. I, I had a buddy Zach Miller who had a, co-work basically a co-working space in downtown Norfolk and he had an extra room and I went down there for really inexpensive.
It cost basically nothing. I contributed to things like paper towels and toilet paper, but it was effectively a, a, a free room or pretty darn close to it. And I started to work really in a co-working space. So it wasn’t an official co-working space, but that’s how it was functioning as, and that was really cool because I had my own room with the door. I could lock it, I could focus. And then if I could just step literally like right outside of my office space that I could have a little bit of social interaction. Oh. And also there were like networking events that, that happened there. So being relatively new in business, actually very new at the time I could go step. I, I didn’t have to drive anywhere. I could just literally step outside through the door of my little office room and I’d be in a networking situation.
And then it was great. So I, I got a lot of networking in, I met a lot of people and then I started to hire and then me and Alicia was her name. My first employee, we worked out of the same room. And then as I got a third employee, I was like, oh, I’m outgrowing this. And so we moved across the street to a very small, like 850 square foot dedicated office space. We filled that place up. And then we eventually moved here to where we’re at now in Chesapeake, Virginia. This is a 2000 square foot office kind of that we got five years ago. And I, we thought we were gonna outgrow this and then COVID happened. And we started to basically all work remote
Erik J. Olson (05:56):
Except for a few of us here in the office. There’s only four or five of us that work full time outta the office. So this, this is fine. Now we don’t need to upgrade because we hire people remotely. So that that’s been kind of the evolution of, of my office base experience. As you could tell, I’ve creeped up in my requirements and space as time went on, I didn’t get like a big office right off the bat. I, I, I went with the minimum $400 as a matter of fact, even before that, I didn’t spend any money. I went to the dining room table. So if I were to give advice about how to handle your office space, that’s what I would do. Right. I would start off not having office space. And then at some point, especially if you need to focus or you need, you need network, you need to be around people.
Something like a co-working space would be really, really good. If I were to do it all over again, I’d probably skip the subleasing, like a room out of someone else’s office and just go right to the co-working space. So, and then eventually when you need it, you get your own space. But it’s a nice way of kind of like progressing as you need it without committing to too much. So that’s my experience. I hope it helps. If you have any questions for hit me on the Instagram, you can find me there @erik.j.olson that’s E R I K dot J dot O L S O N.