Where to start a business (and how the big-names did it)
It’s hard to picture now, but businesses like Amazon and Google didn’t always have the plush, luxury offices they now sport. Like any business, they had to start from the beginning! Whether you’re looking to start your own business, or you’re just trying to get some work done, take a look at the methods of these now-global names started out. There’re certainly lessons to be learned from their approach to hard graft and finding the space to do so!
Amazon and the door desk
Amazon is one of the many inspiration stories told to entrepreneurs, and with good reason. The company started out in a small garage space in a rented home, with a mess of cables and a blue spray-painted sign as the business logo.
Famously, the Amazon offices of old didn’t even have real desks. Having looked at the prices of desks, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos found that buying a door and a few four by fours was much cheaper. Following this, he set about building his own desks for a lot cheaper. Sure, they were a bit wobbly, but they got the job done for a fraction of the price.
There’s an important lesson for entrepreneurs here. Bezos explained his rationale behind not only building the door desks to start with, but continuing with the modern version in Amazon’s current offices, as: “a symbol of spending money on things that matter to the customers and not spending money on things that don’t.”
Google and Lego storage (in a garage)
Much like Amazon, Google’s starting journey is often cited as inspiration for start-up companies today. In 1998, Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and operated out of a garage space rented to them by a friend — now-CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki.
Though the Google pair had one or two fancy office desks, there was also a fair bit of DIY going on too. According to a previous display at Stanford University, Page and Brin needed 10 hard disks of the largest capacity available at the time (4GB) in order to test Pagerank, which would become the crucial backbone of Google. Spending the money on what they needed rather than what they didn’t, these 10 hard disks became absolutely vital — the server rack, not so much. Therefore, the hard disks were stored in a cabinet fashioned out of Lego bricks!
Your own office space
What can we learn from these two now-titans of business? Well, firstly, the importance of workspace versus furnishings is certainly apparent. If you’re looking to start a company, or need a good workspace for your handmade products, or simply need an office space away from other distractions, the best first step is to take a look at what space you already have available to you. This could be a hardly-used guest room, an abandoned shed out in the garden, or maybe you’re lucky enough to have a garage or log cabin space as part of your home. The latter two are fantastic if you need a larger space to work from, with garages and log cabins having ample room for storing raw materials or electronics while also providing enough space for a table and chair to work from.
In terms of furnishing your space, remember to spend money on areas that will benefit your customers, just like Amazon. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and fashion yourself a door desk like Bezos did (though you can if you want to). Sure, a slightly wobbly desk might be fine for some ventures such as computer-based services, but if you’re making something delicate and handmade, an unstable desk might impact the quality of your work. Examine what you need for your venture and what areas directly impact your customers’ experience. Being thrifty and frugal with your furnishings and following the idea that money should be spent on things that matter to the customer will give you more budget on important elements for your business, such as the physical space.
Many people ignore their ideas or desires to start a company or projects based on the idea that they ‘don’t have the resources’. But you can certainly make a start even with a limited budget — it’s all about prioritising space and going for the thrifty approach!