For the first 5 years of our business, we operated solely out of our home. I was very hesitant to commit to renting space outside of our home, Chris was very enthusiastic about the possibility. I was worried about adding overhead to our still young business. As a busy working mom, I was worried I would never have time to go somewhere outside my home to work: I was squeezing in editing and admin tasks between loads of laundry, cooking, and caring for my kids. I could not have been more wrong.
It’s what almost every entrepreneur needs to do until their startup takes off. Most of us find that we outgrow our home offices, guest rooms, dining rooms, and even garages much sooner than we expected. It’s scary to take on that kind of extra overhead and responsibility. For us, we made it happen by finding a small, really affordable space, sharing it with another creative, and making it our own. From day one, we could see the positive results of this move for our business.
A Better Work/Life Balance
I was very busy while working from home. BUSY. I don’t feel that busy is a good thing to be. Like I said, I was squeezing in editing between taking care of kids and pets and manage our household. Since my kids and house were right there, I was constantly distracted by their needs and unable to focus on my work except in small bits of time between interruptions. I was also never fully focused on my kids, because the computer was always right there. Full of work just begging to be done.
I would work while my kids were at school, sneak away to catch up on emails and website work all afternoon and evening. I wasn’t ever pulling out a good book to read, because work was right there waiting for me. I wasn’t ever losing myself in a good tv show or movie; it was just background noise for while I got work done.
Even when I did make an effort to tear myself away from work, my brain never quite made it happen. Between the computer, the stacks of notes, the filmmaking gear laying around, there was always something to remind me of that ‘one more thing’ I just really needed to take care of.
There are still times where I’ll bring home a laptop to get a little extra done in the evenings, but having the physical separation between my home and my work definitely allows me to be more present at both.
A Place to Focus on Your Work
Chris’s main argument for space outside of our house was that he struggled to focus while editing from home. Most of our short films take 20-40 hours to edit. Since this isn’t his full-time job, those hours are spread out over a weekend or evening. The worst thing is to get in a good groove….then have to stop work because you’re too noisy for a kid that needs to go to bed.
While I worried that I would never get time to go to a studio to work, I found that it is very helpful for me to segment my time, to schedule those work hours, and once I am there, I focus on work.
Like a lot of women, I struggle with that mental burden of managing family and household commitments, even when I’m not in the home. I’m not going to lie to you and say that it totally disappears while I’m at the studio, because my kids are always in my brain (thanks to technology, mom is always just a text away). But I am able to forget about the laundry and shopping and 1001 things that need fixed around the *house for the hours that I’m in the studio.
Space for All of Your Business Gear
Honestly, the main reason I agreed to space outside of our home was that our filmmaking gear had outgrown all of the available closet space in our little bungalow, and I was tired of tripping over tripods. I was tired of finding my kids abandoned cups and snacks sitting on my desk when I sat down to work.
Even with our first studio, which was a relatively small shared space, having a place for everything to live was a huge relief. I can’t focus around clutter, it makes my anxiety worse. It’s like the physical clutter turns into mental clutter for me, and I don’t need any more of that. Not having to jenga things into the tiny closets of our house felt so nice (not to mention the personal closet space we gained after we moved the gear out). Knowing exactly where everything is when I need it was so nice. Seeing large gear like c-stands or studio lights in a studio doesn’t seem like clutter or feel out of place. Unlike at my home, these are the tools of work.
The Appearance of Professionalism
Notice that I say ‘appearance’ because we are no more or less professional than when we worked out of our home, and I don’t view any of my entrepreneur friends as anything less than professional if they do choose (or need) to work out of their home.
We rarely meet clients in our space. But they see it online. Particularly as a creative professional, having a dedicated workspace says to clients that you’re doing well enough to warrant such a space. It says that you know what you’re doing, you’re in it for the long haul, and will be around to complete their project.
It also provides a very functional and necessary SEO tool: a street address. Search engines do not count PO Boxes as business addresses or allow you to use them in your business listing. They’ve even blocked most of the street addresses provided by mail service companies like the UPS store once they realized how easy it was for businesses to set up a physical presence in a community with a $5 month mailbox (but no actual presence).
You can absolutely use your home address in your business listing, but most of us feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of putting our home address out there like that. It’s also nice to have somewhere for deliveries to be left with a person, vs. worrying if someone will grab it from your porch or having to arrange a pick up for those who live on rural routes.
(For those of you reading this from an urban area, large parts of WV are too rural for home mail delivery; residents must pick up mail from a post office, and some rural post offices are too small to accept large packages. Just a little mind-blowing fact of what WV is like in 2019)
Studio Space at the 304 Collective
If you’ve decided that the time is right for you to make the move out of your home into a professional space, we’ve got room for you. Our studio is bright and modern, full of natural light and happy plants. We know how scary it can be to commit to another expense, so we’ve worked to develop a variety of plans to fit how much space and time you need into your budget. We also know that a year-long lease may not be something you’re comfortable with, so we have month to month options as well. Our pricing is all-inclusive: it covers all of the utilities (including internet) so there won’t be any surprise bills each month.
In addition to professional space, the 304 Collective has the added benefit of being a shared, collaborative space. You get co-workers; a group of supportive people to encourage you, build you up, and bounce your ideas off of. You get the accountability of working in a shared space (you know you don’t mess around and binge Netflix when people are watching!) You also get all of our shared resources: furniture (along with other props and decor), use of the kitchenette and conference/podcast room, the darkroom (if developing film is your jam). You also have the opportunity to rent things like studio lights, stands, backdrops for way less (and way more conveniently) than any of the large rental houses.
I invite you to come by for a visit, check out the space, and see if it would be right for you. Just drop me an email and I would love to show you around! If you’re curious about pricing, we have that all listed for you on our Studio Rental Pricing page.
Hope to see you soon!