Possible to run an offline business without a physical office?

29 replies
Hi all,

Anyone here run their entire business virtually online. Meaning to say, you do not have a physical office, your staff work remotely either from home or starbucks (or any other parts of the world).

I am running a copywriting firm but I do not serve the IM niche. Most of them are brick and motar stores with offices in town. Since my 'service' are delivered digitally, I know it's possible not to have a physical office.

In fact, I am doing it in a small scale with my production crew. But I want to know the pros and cons of not having a physical office in the long run.

Anyone here serve the offline businesses without a physical office?
#business #office #offline #physical #run
  • Profile picture of the author TJ Rose
    I don't have a "real" office location, other than the spare bedroom in my house, because I don't see a need for the extra expense right now.

    I keep it honest with the biz owners let them know I don't have an office and they respect that.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andrew H
    My experience with having a home office:

    Some clients will respect the fact that you are working hard from home. As long as you show your value it isn't an issue.

    However, some clients will not understand the economics behind it and will view you as not being a 'stable' business and won't want to work with you.

    I have encountered more of the former. I can recall only two times that not having an office has cost me a sale (and those two sales would not make up for the price of two years in an office). Obviously this will depend on who your target market is, so best to just feel it out.
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  • Profile picture of the author TurnKeyShane
    I have done both ways. I currently have an office but I definitely don't think you need one to get going and I highly suggest looking at creative ways to get one if you do. 90% of my clients I meet at their office. So if this is your primary business there is not a reason to invest heavily in an office in my opinion unless you get to the point where you are looking to develop a personal assistant and sales force. If you do want an office there are plenty of ways to get creative with office space.

    Service Trade Out - My current office I trade out services or basically my knowledge in exchange for my space.

    Virtual Office - Depending on where you are there may be a virtual office you can pay a small fee for each month to use for a set number of hours each month. If your not in an area that has a virtual office then network and find someone with office space. Offer to pay them a small fee each month to be able to use their conference room and address.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      The only possible reason I can think of to have an office is if you have hourly employees. They need a place to work, and you need to be there to make sure they are working....and that you are working.

      If I were a copywriter, it would never enter my mind to get an office.

      If you have salespeople, appointment setters, It guys...then it's different.

      You can also use it as a positioning statement. "You aren't paying for overhead, just great copy"

      Of course, if I had an office...I would say "You can always fid me. I'll be at my office. We are established, not like those fly-by-night guys that can't afford an office because they don't have any clients"

      See? Sell what you have.
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  • Profile picture of the author ckbank
    Originally Posted by fated82 View Post

    Hi all,

    Anyone here run their entire business virtually online. Meaning to say, you do not have a physical office, your staff work remotely either from home or starbucks (or any other parts of the world).

    I am running a copywriting firm but I do not serve the IM niche. Most of them are brick and motar stores with offices in town. Since my 'service' are delivered digitally, I know it's possible not to have a physical office.

    In fact, I am doing it in a small scale with my production crew. But I want to know the pros and cons of not having a physical office in the long run.

    Anyone here serve the offline businesses without a physical office?
    You have a bedroom? There you go.
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  • Profile picture of the author IM nice guy
    This is online marketing man, it seems like a pretty obvious answer if you ask me.

    All you need is an internet connection, and "some" privacy.
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    • Profile picture of the author maverick8
      Originally Posted by IM nice guy View Post

      This is online marketing man, it seems like a pretty obvious answer if you ask me.

      All you need is an internet connection, and "some" privacy.
      Privacy being the key. Working at home it is almost impossible at times.

      I created an office at home. Getting the best noise cancelling head phones you can afford and turn off your mobile/cell phone will help you IMO. As your family, well my family always think i can do them favors as i am at home all the time.
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  • Profile picture of the author mrmatt
    Yep, run mine out of my office at home. Never had a client say that was a problem. I try and meet people at their office or a coffee shop. Only in rare occasions do I have any clients that come to my home.

    If you think you really need an office look for something where you are renting shared office space in a commercial building. There are a couple in my area and they even come with someone to answer your phones, internet and power. Last time I checked they ran between $600 to $1000 depending on how large of an office you get.

    Working from home is really only a big deal if you make it out to be one.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    Again, agreeing with Claude. You can manage sales people remotely, but its optimal to do it from an office. Most Warriors dont have sales staffs like that, and they work from home. Its not uncommon or unrealistic to run a business from home.
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  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    Do you need to meet clients at your office?
    Do you have employees that need to work in your office?

    if either of these is true get an office.

    Otherwise just do the home office. How will anyone know rather you have an "office" or not? You should be talking about your client and what you can do for them not about where and how you work.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    Whether or not you work from an office is pretty much a non issue these days, it's so common. People run million dollar construction companies out of their garage. Let alone all the independent agents and other kinds of home workers. It's common place.
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  • Profile picture of the author IM nice guy
    yeah, it has to be really really worth it to have an office, because it's a HUGE cost.

    I wouldn't even think about getting an office for my business, unless I was up around the £100K mark.

    Maybe next year
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  • Profile picture of the author Biz Max
    My office has been in my house for the last 10 years.
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  • Definitely possible. all you really need to be is engaged and organized. If you can be organized without an office that is on you. but i know plenty of business owners that thrive without the office. some even have an office but rarely step in it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kim Phoenix
    My husband's friend sells insurance, and he does not have a physical space outside his home. As long as you have a place where you can meet your clients (if needed) to discuss their needs (like over coffee), I don't see why it should matter. Be sure to have a professional website, with a working phone, email, and post office box where they can reach you. If anything, you can advertise it as a way of keeping overhead costs lower so that you don't have to pass the costs on to them.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    I have found having my sales people office actually builds their sales/productivity on average. There are always the exceptions/mavericks who dont need one, but most people in sales need to get pumped up, and encourage each other, share ideas, etc... Sales is tough out there being a lone wolf for most. They were mostly road warriors and would be traveling once a week or two, and in the office a few days a week. This was a manufacturing biz, IM seems a bit different w/ many contractors etc...officing out of home. I'd look at putting my sales team in an office for IM as well when expanding w/ a sales team. The production side I would not office.
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    • Profile picture of the author OnlineStoreHelp
      Many companies are run without physical offices including companies like 37 signals and Appsumo. I wish I could find the post that explained it but the key is not saying you work out of your home but you work out of a home office. Apparently home office means you are stable, out of the home means you are some degenerate.

      The irony is half the sales people I know, never work out of their offices. They almost always meet people at a coffee shop or cafe.
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      • Profile picture of the author Tim Bazley
        Like many here, I think it's perfectly acceptable to run a business with no office (apart from a desk in a spare room of your house).

        I've done this with several businesses over the last 15 years, including copywriting.

        These days, it's possible to run a business just from a smartphone (or maybe a laptop if you're doing lots of writing).

        And I don't think most clients really care either.

        One thing to think of though, is discipline. If this isn't your strong suit, then having a physical space designated as an office or work area that you have to go to everyday will help you get out of bed and working in a timely fashion!

        Even if it's just a desk in your spare room, putting on smart work clothing and being at your desk by 9am is a good idea. It's too easy to not start work until well after midday otherwise!
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  • Profile picture of the author fated82
    Thanks everyone for all the inputs. Just to share my current progress and what the future holds for me for the next year.

    Currently, I am renting a small desk at a prime location for $500/month. The lease is due this May and I will not be renewing.

    I've worked from home before so it's nothing new to me. Recently, I got a good deal for hotdesking. What it means is, you pay $38/month and you get to pop in to any of the office centers to work. Pretty cool idea and I will be taking it up.

    I also had a virtual office address which cost me $99 a year. No one to answer the phone for you but you get to collect mails and use their address. Wanted to get a more prestige address for $198/mth which comes with a pretty lady answering the phone for you. Something I think may be a waste of money.

    In terms of production crew, like most WF members here, my writers and designers are based in Philippines. Currently we are using Teamwork to manage all the projects and communicate via skype.

    Future

    My copywriter used to work with a SEO company. What they do is pretty similar to what I have in mind. They have an office in PH where they house the production crew. They do not have a physical office here in Singapore. Their sales agents got a laptop, phone allowance and work from home.

    So i am pretty sure my business can follow this infrastructure, even in the long run.

    Anyway, this is an interesting read. It's an article that inspire me to not have an office. lol

    The Remote Control CEO, Leading Your Company Article | Inc.com
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    • Profile picture of the author donaldhamilton
      The hot desking sounds like a pretty good deal, but I agree that you should ditch the rest. I've been dealing with pretty big law firms a lot recently, and they love it that I work from a home office (or have a "low overhead operating model", as I put it). I think that smart people will recognise smart, cost effective solutions, particularly in these economic times - particularly if it means that it keeps your prices down
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  • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
    We've been doing offline for 9 years now, and haven't had an office front. Over half of our clients are offline also and don't have standing offices. The ones that do are franchises with sales people etc. By not having a physical office, it allows you the freedom to sell anywhere you want, and you don't have to meet with people unless you choose to. It all depends on what you're selling, how good you are at selling and how qualified your prospect is.

    So, yes, it can be done, successfully, just as everyone else here said
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  • If you have the space (and the money), you could just build a home office with a separate entrance for clients. I saw one when I was still living in Manila. His (a lawyer friend of mine) "home office" is connected to his house but he keeps that door locked when working. And he made sure the entrance and inside of his office looked neat and professional so he could take clients there anytime without having explain anything.
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  • Profile picture of the author sdentrepreneur
    Yes, I work out of a cool high-tech Coworking space called San Diego Meeting Rooms & Shared Office Space | Co-Merge
    There are others nationwide and worldwide called Regus. I highly suggest leveraging these type places, not only will they make you look more professional, you can pick up business from the other people that work there. Good luck !!!
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  • Profile picture of the author kellyyarnsbro
    I don't really have an office you are talking about, I work anywhere so as my staff and I bet most people here also does the same.
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  • Profile picture of the author bsummers
    I guess a particular business doesn't necessarily have to have a 'physical office,' for as long as the operations are flowing smoothly and that you are acquiring a substantial number of sales leads, then I think your business is on the right path.
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  • Profile picture of the author seyha
    Have an office is not mandatory thing! the main thing is that the way you control your staff and make sure that they work from home.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob28x
    we have town offices where you can rent offices by the hour, week, or month depending what you need it for. They also have conference rooms etc you can rent by the hour for team meetings etc. Makes it nice when you need somewhere to meet with clients without having a ton of overhead.
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  • Profile picture of the author jgant
    I used to have commercial office space but found I didn't go there much (I had to drive there which was a hassle) so I dropped it.

    When I ran an offline business, I set up satellite offices where I booked boardrooms by the hour when I needed to meet clients. This is a great set up if you need office space for meeting clients but don't want to get locked into an expensive lease. I paid $25 per month and the hourly cost was $25. The other advantage with this is you can have offices in several towns which can attract more clients.

    Currently I work in coffee shops and at home; however, I'm entertaining renting a small condo steps from my home to use as an office. Too many interruptions at home.

    If you have to meet with clients, I wouldn't go the coffee shop route (I don't meet with clients currently). That's not very professional. If you meet with clients, rent boardrooms by the hour ... at least for the initial sale or go to their office if that's their preference.
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