This post was written by Patricia Frame of Strategies for Human Resources, our guest author for our solopreneur blog series.
When I started my business, I never even thought of working anywhere other than from home. I had a desk already and the price was right! I knew consultants and professionals who had their own offices, but why bother – I go to clients, they do not come to me.
Fast forward and folks are working in a variety of locations and styles. What works best for you? Have you actually tried any other options? What underlying assumptions are you making which fuel your current choice?
Certainly, working from a variety of locations is easier than ever with modern technology assistance. The business press often highlights those who work from their favorite beach or small town. HGTV shows people who have moved overseas because “we can work from anywhere.”
But what works best for you?
People work at lots of chain restaurants and local coffee shops. I recently saw a guy with three laptops and two phones spread out, all active, at a local Panera during meal time. St. Elmo’s, like many other coffeehouses, has a large table that usually is full of people working alone on their laptops but crammed together. This style does not appeal at all to me because I know I would be surfing more than productively working. And I do wonder if everyone there is buying enough food or drink to cover the costs to the owner of lost business and ‘free’ wifi. But I know highly successful solopreneurs who find this strategy very helpful.
Co-working spaces are increasingly common. They offer a variety of options and cost levels. DC even has one that is only for women. Others focus on certain types of work but most have a variety of people working in them. Some include micro-firms as well as solopreneurs. A recent study showed that many people who use such spaces do so for the social aspects. Many find the friendships there that once they would have found in a company or other employer site. Most also felt that this style of working increased their learning, gave them other viewpoints, and increased their success. Talking with people I know in such situations reveals that it helps many to stay on track and focused for those hours. Co-working spaces, many felt, offered better facilities than they have at home, easier networking, help locating needed services, and access to meeting spaces without the high costs of an office lease of one’s own.
Public libraries, as well as specialized research and university libraries, offer another option. Once these were working spaces primarily for authors and specialty researchers who needed access to their collections. Now many solopreneurs find a cozy carrel or out of the way spot useful as a work space regularly too.
Some soloprenuers set up their own systems. This might include working once a month for half a day with another person on business development or new services, or just as a form of accountability, switching homes as needed. Regularly spending a few hours a week at someplace inspirational can help with creativity, give you the push to finish that final project piece, or just provide a sense of calm. I like Great Falls National Park and the Freer myself. A consultant I know swears by big hotel lobby bars during uncrowded daytime hours.
The Common Questions to Ask Yourself
- Do you prefer to be alone or do you feel lonely working that way regularly?
- What home issues are you dealing with that hinder productivity, such as: poor or limited work space, family or animal interruptions and noise, lack of meeting space?
- Are you able to routinely resist the temptation to do a few chores or other interruptions to your work hours?
- Do you prefer to maintain some barriers between your work and private life or not?
- Do you need more socializing or networking options routinely available?
- Are you able to maintain focus in a coffehouse, library, or coworking space?
- Do you need amenities or services beyond what you currently have at home?
- Do you prefer to work with others collaboratively or to enhance your creativity or to build your network so as to increase your success?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can determine the best plan for working productively and happily as a solopreneur.
“Be present. It’s easy to get bogged down IN the details of your business and pass up opportunities to work ON your business. It’s important to network and build relationships. That professional social infrastructure will help in providing a network of support and peer mentoring; serving as a source of referrals and prospects; increasing visibility and social and political capital; and offering the opportunity to develop leadership skills and business savvy. Being present at events, on committees and through interactions with your trusted partners and connections is a keystone of entrepreneurship.” Gaea L. Honeycutt, MPP, G.L. Honeycutt Consulting, LLC