Living in a digital age where working from home is increasingly popular and possible, I always find the To office or not to office question an interesting one. Before we dive into breaking down that question, though, I wanted to share our own office journey with you:
We were two full years into LVL Weddings & Events before we considered finding an office space. We had laptops and could work from home, coffee shops or, really, anywhere! Fast-forward to a lovely table in Corner Bakery where a child's screams pierced through the air while Lindsay tried to remain cool, calm and collected during a potential client meeting, and it dawned on us: we needed an office. And fast.
We immediately secured a small office space, which we shared with a photographer friend for a year, then a production company for a year and, finally, a rental company the year after. Then, in the fall of 2013, we decided to sign on the dotted line for our very own office. (Hello, legitimacy!) Just this year, we expanded that same office space, and it is now double in size. We also have a shared office space in Northern California for our team there.
For us, having our own office space has become an absolute must, but that doesn't mean it's necessary for every planner. Before you secure your own space, we recommend asking yourself a few important questions:
1. Do you need it?
Really, though. Do you need a different work space? Is your current workspace losing you sales, or impeding upon your productivity level? Are clients not booking because you don't have an office? Or, on the other hand, do you just think it would be nice to have an office space? Write down and analyze your reasons for wanting an office space—this will help you decide if it's an absolute necessity or merely just a nicety.
2. Will you use it?
How often are you meeting clients in person? Do you like working in an office or do prefer the flexibility of working from home? How often are your events out of town? Do you travel a fair amount? Realistically, how often would you actually be sitting at your desk in an office if you decided to rent one? It may sound silly—but it's something you need to ask yourself. You don't want to sign a two-year lease only to realize that, in the first 30 days, you've only set foot in the place three times.
3. Shared or all your own?
If you're wanting an office space to get out of the house or increase productivity, while at the same time recognizing it's not an absolute necessity and certainly isn't a space you'd visit every single day, you may want to consider renting a shared or co-op office space. Both allow you the flexibility of a smaller space in a larger office. Perks can include access to printers, conference rooms, copiers, coffee and office supplies—and, of course, course the perk of not footing the entire bill.
4. Can you really afford it?
If you're leaning toward securing an office space, you need to sit down and look at your budget before you make any serious moves. Map out your budget for the entire year and then ask yourself if you can afford to pay a static rent, utilities and other expenses during your slowest months. If the added expense is going to introduce any extra stress into your life, is it really worth it?
5. What location makes sense?
If you're ready to move forward, think location, location, location. Choose a spot centrally located between where your clients are coming from, where you live and the venues at which you work. This will allow you to save on travel time and gas money, while maximizing your availability.
Finally, here are some of the reasons we LOVE it!
For us, we've found that having our own office space has a number of perks. Below are the top reasons we're head-over-heels for our LVL offices:
- A better separation of work and home: You're not distracted by the dryer buzzer when you should be focusing on writing a proposal, and vice-versa: you're not thinking about that contract you need to send when you should be enjoying dinner with your family.
- A place to show potential clients and clients who you are and that you are here to stay: An office space does, in many ways, help to legitimize your business in the eyes of clients. It's also a place that can reflect your personality and showcase your portfolio of work (so make it pretty), which can be a real deal-sealer for many potential clients. Plus, a brick-and-mortar studio space says you're committed to your career and aren't planning on going anywhere anytime soon.
- Better teamwork + increased interaction: Especially if you have a number of employees on your team, an office space allows your crew to brainstorm together, laugh together and even just chat about their weekends together. This all leads to better camaraderie and increased teamwork. Even if you're operating your business completely on your own, though, a shared office space allows for some daily human interaction, which can be crucial for maintaining our sanity—after all, working alone from home 365 days a year can be lonely and tedious.
We would love to hear your personal take on wedding planning with or without an official office space—share your thoughts with us!