I’m always exploring the small business section of the Wall Street Journal because it’s interesting to see how these little engines of growth are doing in these very slow-growth times. According to Anjali Athavaley’s recent article “Into Working Outside,” many businesses are giving up trying to support expensive overhead in New York and are moving outside to free public space and setting up shop, especially startups. All kinds of businesses from Web developers to designers, and even service providers, can now be found at picnic tables near the Manhattan Bridge (the intersection of Water and Pearl for those who know the city) taking advantage of free Wi-Fi and decent summer weather.
Those of us who advise startups often suggest ways to launch that don’t involve a lot of overhead: kiosks, sharing space, working from home, and so forth. That’s because overhead does not generate revenue—it’s a sunk cost that you have to pay whether or not you’re making money. Who hasn’t done business from a hotel lobby, Starbucks, or a local restaurant because you work from home and don’t want to advertise it? (Although I’m a big believer in working from home.)
Today, it seems that some very enterprising Millennials are taking this concept to a whole new level. Because office space in New York (and many other cities) doesn’t make economic sense, especially for startups, entrepreneurs like Meghan Doherty, who is a graphic designer, prefer to find unusual places to set up their laptops. And with more and more public locations offering free Wi-Fi, it’s easier than ever to do business from practically anywhere. Depending on your mood, that might be a five-star hotel lobby or under an umbrella on the beach.
And, of course, when an idea like this gets some legs, some entrepreneur will always find a way to capitalize on it. Loosecubes
founders Campbell McKellar and Anna Thomas did just that by providing places to work (cubes) when you want something more than a hard Starbucks chair or your sofa. When you become a member of Loosecubes, you can tap into their network in a bunch of cities around the world to find a place to work for the day free based on “your vibe, network, and skills.” It’s sort of e-Harmony for people who have productive spaces to share and those who need them. A match made in heaven, using Loosecubes is an opportunity to make some great connections with people you really ought to be meeting but didn't have a way to do it. What's better than taking a temporary cubicle in their company?
In fact, it was Loosecubes, in partnership with the Dumbo Improvement District
(definitely another post) that put together the work-in-the-park event in New York to make people aware that they do have options when it comes to work.
So don’t let the lack of an office stop you! Get creative! As long as you pack out what you pack in, even the Four Seasons probably won’t know that you’re not staying there.