One of the many wonderful side effects of being a dog trainer is that you become very adept at reading people.
Both the dog training and the people reading are handy talents to have when you’re a pet industry entrepreneur and business owner.
I was pondering this (and, yes, laughing a little bit to myself) when I walked into the office the other day and saw my team members at their desks taking care of business. We have a main office, with desks and work tables, and a secondary office which serves as my hidey-hole as well as our private conference room and media recording studio.
One of our team members (above) has her desk set up like the bridge of the Enterprise, with the monitor in a moveable position in front of her and file cabinets off to the side. Another has a very utilitarian spot where she can get up and make notes on the sales whiteboard or walk around during phone calls. Yet another is set up in what she calls her “power position”, which is where she consistently places herself in any room that she’s in - by the door, but partly behind it when it opens, so she can see the entire room but has an easy escape route (mostly to the bathroom - she drinks a lot of water).
Most new businesses start in a home office or a spare desk/table. And that’s fine, once you get used to the routine of treating your business like a real job and not working in your pajamas all day. (Newbie mistake #1 - you really do have to get dressed in the morning, even if you’re working from home.) But when you begin adding staff, you have to start putting space requirements, equipment needs, and personalities into the mix, and it can be difficult to balance all of those things within a bare-bones startup budget.
My first piece of advice is to let your staff sort out their own “power positions” and then acquire furnishings that suit both their needs and the available space and budget. Don’t be afraid to repurpose stuff you already have. If you have a communal or open work space, it can cause a lot of agita if you pre-furnish without observing how the space will actually be used. This is one of the great advantages of headquartering at a coworking space - there are so many furniture configurations that there is something for just about everyone.
The other thing that matters - a lot - is lighting. Several offices ago we had a brightly lit basement office, but it was 1) underground, and 2) lit by fluorescents. To make the space more cheerful, we put up strings of white holiday lights and stuck torchieres in the corners. We also squinted a lot, because that wasn’t an ideal solution either. Now we have glass brick windows in the main office, and that natural light makes a huge difference in both mood and productivity.
As the icing on the cake of your startup office, make sure you have coffee, water, and snacks available. The cherry on top of a great work space is - of course - being dog friendly. (I’ll cover how to make your office dog-friendly and -safe in another post.)
What does your work space look like, and how did you solve for the issues created by a growing team? Send your pictures to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.