Two months ago, we moved to a new playground space. From 90m2 to 180m2. From 3 rooms to 6 rooms. From an apartment to a house.
It has to start somehow
Looking back at our own business, we started as most small studios do – from our garages and small apartments (in a different part of the country), to the apartment we shared together as co-founders, and later on to the first “official” office space we shared with our first employee outside the co-founding trio.
We worked in that same place for more than 2 years. We’ve grown from 4 to 11 people in that period. We created some great stuff over there. But we also had a lot of personal and professional issues, which left their mark on the overall “behind the scenes” experience. Besides that, 90m2 is far too small for any kind of working environment, especially if you take into account that, at any one point, 11 people might have to work from there.
Times are changing
Everything was pointing in just one direction, to move our asses to some other place, so we could try to change some of our bad habits and improve our internal processes. I started searching for a suitable place in the local classifieds online. I was like a maniac at a cyber flea market, looking for something that was almost impossible to find since I already had my own vision of how it should look (of course, that wasn’t what we ended up with).
We wanted a place that would, at some point, foster creativity and inspire the team to strive for more and better things for themselves as professionals, but also for our clients and the company itself. A place where we can work hard, but at the same time play harder.
Our escape to another reality, where we are the ones creating some interesting stuff out there in the world.
Probably, nothing huge, revolutionary and special from your point of view. But, we are here to do work in the best possible way we know how and to try to impact other people’s (digital) lives in a good and positive way.
After more than 8 months of looking for a place suitable for our team and our way of working, I found the one that we now call home. Together with Vibor, I spent two months of “after-work” working on making things suitable for our working environment and culture. The place was almost completely empty at the start, so we needed to plan the whole interior design by ourselves, to make it functional and nice for both employees and clients / partners while we are here.
Do yourself a favour
We ordered a lot of interesting design and arty stuff over the Internet from sites like Etsy and eBay, much of it in advance. Also, we did things from cleaning and renewing the space to the tiniest detail, to moving stuff from the old office completely by ourselves around Christmas time, while both clients and employees were on their well-deserved vacations.
We substituted our usual UX work for the clients with screwing, painting, grinding, using sanding machines, applying smooth finishes to our walls, challenging IKEA’s instructions while assembling our furniture (we have some screw left over and are not sure whose fault that is). We’ve taken care of it all by ourselves. Almost successfully, I would say! Some of these things we were doing for the first time in our lives. It was challenging, but fun at the same time.
Of course, there were things that it wouldn’t make sense for us to do ourselves, such as the super nice palette furniture that the crew behind Sklepaj.me did for us. When I made the calculation for doing that on our own, it was easy to see that just the material alone would be more expensive than the full service DIY furniture they were making together with their partners, so we teamed up! What was once an old and cobwebbed house now seemed to have a chance for a new life as a nice-looking design studio.
Besides palette furniture, custom meeting & billiard desk and a few things from IKEA and the flea market, we did everything with our own hands (and brains!). And, by doing it in that way, we saved a lot of money that we can now spend on team gatherings, education and other valuable things, or, at least, the things we think are important.
I will not go into the details and provide you with the floor plan of our new office and what business decisions we made while arranging the studio, but in case you want to come for a coffee or a beer, you’re more than welcome to stop by!
In total, including the rental fee for 6 months in advance, we spent less than we are spending monthly on just salaries for our employees. That’s what I call a nice job, and it’s worth every second we spent doing it by ourselves! We proved that you can have a nice studio within a really small budget if you put yourself on the front foot.
We know that now, especially after the great feedback we’ve had from everyone. And we know too that other people appreciate that. In a different ways, of course.
Finally, I guess I would like to just emphasise the importance of doing it on your own and not waiting for someone else, whatever it may be in your life, to do it instead of you. Do not skip the “natural” path of business growth, just for the sake of being bigger, having a large workplace and looking “cool” at the front of your shop.
Start small. Learn. Adapt. Continue until that makes you happy. Or you think it can make you even happier. What type of haircut you have during that process, doesn’t matter. The results will come if you are trying your best. Be yourself, stay genuine. Whatever it takes.
So, to sum it up, we moved our business to a new location, a bigger space with bigger opportunities and challenges. Hopefully, we’ll continue creating nice stuff, learn and play together, as well as stand our ground and care about each other, and our mutual future.
Nothing is easy in life and running a company on your own in today’s world is, I believe, one of the hardest and challenging things one can do with your professional career.
Passion never fails? We’ll see how that one goes.