Seinfeld on Startups – “Right here, in this little apartment?”
The Boyfriend: Part 1 (episode 17 from season 3) for those keeping track at home, was a gem on so many levels.
Last month we discussed sales and the need to be your own motivator to make it happen.
In this edition of ‘Seinfeld on Startups‘ we’re going to focus on six little words Elaine throws out as George is in the middle of trying to save his butt with the Unemployment Office, “Right here, in this little apartment?”
This is her response to George’s latest insanity about running a latex manufacturing business in Jerry’s apartment.
While there’s a degree of absurdity to latex manufacturing in an upper story apartment in NYC, you can’t argue with George that business can be done out of an apartment – your garage – your brother’s basement – the library – or the, . . .you get my point.
Often times the current and aspiring entrepreneurs we work with come in with their business ideas followed by their ‘perfect place to locate it’ pitches. Typically they describe the area they want to set up shop as a well-designed, high-traffic location. However, in many cases, rents for more a month than I paid for my first two cars combined.
Yes, starting your business in your basement is about as awesome as it sounds, but you can’t beat the price. When you’re in startup mode, an $800/month rent check isn’t a cash flow hurdle you want – and many times it’s not one you need.
Get creative with your space decisions when your business is just getting going. Maybe the basement won’t work – your fear of spiders, dropped calls, or that ‘Home Alone’-style furnace, make it a bit intimidating to be productive. That’s fair – there are plenty of other places to park your butt. Try the library, or Starbucks, a coworking space (http://www.veelhoeden.com/, for instance), the Jiffy Lube waiting room – just about any place has Wi-Fi these days.
The cost of space is one issue you can avoid by going this route.
The other benefit (besides potentially drinking a ton of free coffee) to working in public is the opportunity to make connections.
You know those people – sure, they’re weird and smell funny, but they could end up being your first beta testers, customers, and feedback loop. They can be your initial support structure in a way our cat or mail carrier just doesn’t have the time for.
All this is a long, and only slightly entertaining way to say you don’t need to jump into a big three year lease at a gazillion dollars a month to be in business.
You can run conference calls in your sweatpants (wear a dress shirt), set up a PO Box, and answer your parent’s phone number as “Vandelay Industries” and no one will ever be the wiser you don’t have a highrise corporate office setting, but instead running your startup from a smallish, low rent apartment on the upper west side.
Dan Beenken is Director of the UNI Small Business Development Center