The Bootstrapped Office

My favorite Lifehacker posts are their “featured workspaces.” If you haven’t seen it, people submit their unique work areas and they pick the best of the best to display on the blog. The ones they pick are usually some combination of simplicity, elegance, creativity, and affordability. If you have a few minutes, take a look at all of the recently featured workspaces.

Being that we’re a bootstrapped company, our work areas are more focused on simplicity and affordability and not so much elegance and creativity. It’s all about setting up areas that get the job done. We need to be able to do our work comfortably without distraction. Nothing more, nothing less.

Here’s what my desk at the warehouse looks like:

Adam's Work Office

A $40 table from Walmart, an old chair from my parents house…and nothing else. Space for my laptop and a few other things. We painted the walls and put in the flooring ourselves.

At home it gets a little more “robust”:

Adam's Home Office

That printer was $99 about 5 years ago and is in dire need of being replaced (then again, I print like 20 pages/year so…). I spent something like $60 for the mesh chair on clearance at Office Max, which is super comfortable on my back. The table is my parents old kitchen table. And the rest of the laptop docking setup, as explained in a bit more detail in my Pimp My Desktop post, was very affordable and is highly functional for what I do.

Some people would look at those workspaces and see a million ways to make them “better.” Thing is, our customers will never see our work area. So when things go good for us we invest in better technology, employees, new product lines, new marketing initiatives, and a little bit in ourselves. Those things matter in our business. The aesthetics of a work area don’t. Now, if we were a financial planning company that had clients meeting at our office daily, it would be a complete 180 – the aesthetics of the website wouldn’t matter nearly as much as those in the office.

If you’re starting a bootstrapped business, every penny matters. You have to be able to identify which expenses are necessary and which ones aren’t.

5 comments on The Bootstrapped Office

  1. Does it make you nervous to have that cannon pointing at you while you’re working at home? Productivity technique?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Haha the cannon. Interesting story actually. All freshman engineering students at RPI are required to take a shop class where you turn a block of aluminum into a cannon. It’s considered a “tradition” and “right of passage” into their engineering school. Supposedly it’s been going on for like 50 years. Alumni keep it on their desks at work so that other alumni know that they went to RPI. But that’s not why I keep it pointed at myself. In a rush to finish it early (and not have to attend class the remainder of the semester) I cut the barrel an inch short. Oops! I keep it there to remind me to slow down and avoid stupid mistakes.

  2. I am always thinking of can I do without this. I would prefer to have to be inventive to solve a problem than have too many “things” that don’t necessarily add value to the business.

  3. […] prefer to keep doing so), the only difference between working at home and on the road is having my home-made docking station.  For all intents and purposes though, I’m equally as productive wherever I am.  […]

  4. […] in ’09 I wrote The Bootstrapped Office. At that time we had the simplest, most basic work spaces at our warehouse and at home. As should […]

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