Find the Right Work Space for Your Business

If you're launching a new craft business, you need to create a work space that's functional. Here's how to decide where to set up your studio and office for your new business.

You need a dedicated work space if you're going to work effectively and efficiently on your business. You might immediately assume that, as a craft business owner, working from home is your best option.

A home office and studio will be ideal for some people, but it will be completely unworkable for others who will need to consider alternative options. Here are a few things to think about as you decide where your own business work space will be.

Will you work from home, or rent or buy commercial studio space?

Most craft businesses start from home. It makes sense. As long as you don't work with hazardous materials that don't belong in a home, building your business from home is the most inexpensive, low risk way to get started. However, it might not be the right option for you. 

Here are some considerations to think about to help you decide whether you're going to work from home or commit to a commercial space.

Working From Home 

Positives

  • It will be less expensive than renting a commercial space. You're already paying a mortgage or rent for your home, you won't have to add further business space rental expenses if you work from home.
  • It doesn't require any significant commitment. You're not tied to a lease agreement.
  • You can minimize the financial risks involved in starting a new business.
  • You have a lot of control over when you work. If your work is in your home, you can work any time you like.
  • You can more easily close down the business if it doesn't work out because you won't be committed to a lease for your business space.

Negatives

  • Working from home requires an immense amount of self-discipline. Other priorities and interests are always right around the corner when you're working in your home.
  • You might end up taking more time on projects than you should. Have you heard the cliche that tasks have a tendency to stretch out to whatever amount of time you have available? If you're working from home, you don't always have a clear time when you end work, so you might spend more time on tasks than you should.
  • It can be hard to hire staff when you work for home. Typically, employees come to a place of business, not a person's home. While workplace norms are changing, hiring staff can be tougher when you work from home.
  • Customers may expect cheaper prices. They might not see your business as being a "real" business, so they might expect lower prices than they would from a company with commercial space.
  • Depending on the tools, processes, and raw materials you work with, doing your craft, particularly on a commercial basis, in your home may not be safe.
  • Getting away from the chaos of your home life can be a challenge. You may struggle to find uninterrupted, quiet work time where you can work deeply on your most challenging projects.
  • Depending on the nature of your business activities, you may run into issues around local zoning laws if you run your business from a home that is not commercially zoned.

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A Few Thoughts on Working From Home

Wherever you decide to work, you need a dedicated work space.

Don't try to run a business from home without dedicating a work space for production and office work. A dedicated work space will help keep you organized and productive. It signals you've made a commitment to the business you are building.

You might not work solely in your work space. I started writing this article at my kitchen table, continued it on the living room sofa, and finished it off at the desk in my office. I don't always work in my office, but I do have a dedicated space where I can close the door and focus, where I can organize and store all of the equipment, tools, and paperwork I might need, and where people stay out of my stuff. That keeps me focused and better able to accomplish more.

"Creating a dedicate studio space...even if it is in your garage or home, is the first step to making the commitment of being an artist." 

Angie Wojak in Starting Your Career as an Artist

In order to stay productive while working from home, create and commit to some life rules for yourself. 

Making a decision that you don't do certain things during work hours, like taking personal calls, doing housework, or whatever is most likely to get in the way of your productivity can go a long way to establishing good habits and keeping your productive.

If you need a space outside of your home, but renting a commercial studio space does not fit your budget or the realities of your life, consider the possibility of adding a workshop to your property. This option assumes you have a bit of a back yard and you own your home. It will require an initial cash outlay, but, for some people, it may be a good compromise between working at home and working out of a commercial studio. 

Renting (or buying) a Commercial Space

Positives

Your Craft Studio - Find the Best Work Space for Your Craft Business
  • It's a more formal working arrangement. There's a bigger, more public and financial commitment, so you will be more accountable to making your business work. It's tougher to let yourself skip out on work when you've made this degree of commitment.
  • Your business will appear more legitimate to customers, and that can make it easier for you to charge higher prices.
  • It's easier to hire staff.
  • Depending on your location and the nature of your business, you may get walk in customers.
  • It may be easier to add other forms of income, such as teaching classes, or hosting open studio events.
  • You'll have a professional space to meet with customers and clients.
  • You can keep any hazardous materials or tools away from your home environment.

Negatives

  • Your expenses will be higher, and you will have more financial responsibility.
  • This degree of commitment requires a more long-term plan.
  • You will have to make a commitment to a rental agreement.
  • You will work more strict hours, and you'll need to go out to get certain jobs done.

A Few Thoughts on Renting a Commercial Space

Renting a work space may be completely unnecessary for you. Or, it may be a dream that you feel is out of reach. If you'd love to rent studio space, but you don't know how to make that happen, don't immediately dismiss the possibility out of hand. There are creative solutions for artists, and you might find there are more opportunities in your community that you realize.

Angie Wojak, author of the fantastic book, Starting Your Career as an Artist, advocates for artists having their own studio space. She's a realist, and she understands this arrangement isn't feasible for everyone, but she does encourage artists to put some serious working into exploring studio space options like sharing a studio space to keep rent low, understanding real estate in your city and trying to buy studio space in an up and coming (i.e. not yet expensive) area, so your studio becomes a financial investment. Depending on your needs, a local co-working or maker space may also be a smart option giving you access to work space, meeting space, tools, networking opportunities, and less isolation for an affordable fee.

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