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I have been in the digital industry in Australia (Sydney & Melbourne) since 1996. 

 

I formed IXION INTERACTIVE in ’96 and specialised in blending online (which back then was in its infancy) with traditional offline (primarily print). IXION as an agency was around 6 permanent staff and turned over $1.2m in 2006. Clients included: Darrell Lea, PIMCO, Macarthur Coal & Department of Education Science and Training.

 

In 2006 I sold IXION INTERACTIVE to BlueFreeway Limited.  I setup Blackglass in May 2007 which focussed in on online marketing and in particular the creation of Digital BluePrints and Online Marketing Plans to aid the ...

 

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Recently I was asked about the importance (perceived) of where your office was located. The question was asked by a client who runs a small but growing online business and who has until now operated his business from the comfort of his own home in Pymble - on Sydney's upper north shore.

It was a strange question, which had me sit back and take a moment.

I answered by offering up another question..."how important is it to you?" and indeed "how often are you likely to have clients, suppliers, partners etc in your office premises?"

The reason why I needed to take stock was for a completely different reason. It was not so much about the "location" so much as "having an office" for an online business. A digital or online business - in his case, a business with a transactional website doesn't really need a 'bricks and mortar' office until such time as he has staff to accommodate.

Then I thought further...

Why is it that in this day and age we as business owners still struggle with answering this rather simple question..."do I need an office?" and "what is the value I am likely to derive from having one?" and "should I stay where I am or look around?"

I have always been a fan of having an office - as it has always been the case that I have had staff and the need to meet regularly with suppliers, clients and partners.  I do however increasingly believe that depending on the nature of the business, purely online businesses need not have a traditional office but rather run 'virtual offices'.

It is only for the need for coordination, morale and culture building that an organisation needs to have centralisation offered up via having a fixed office  environment.

Yet, interestingly, many start-ups are using the services of Servcorp or Christie Corporate as initial bases of operations prior to having to cap ex office fitouts and outlay often big chunks of cash for appealing offices. Going back to location - Servcorp and Christie offices are renown around town for being very temporary and often transient places so from a branding and image perspective often aren't the best projection for winning new work.

I guess what it comes down to is:

1. do you need and will you derive value from having an office.

2. if you need an office to centralise and optimise operational efficiencies, then chose a location that is well serviced by public transport and is accessible to clients.

3. if you will be using the office regularly to meet/entertain clients, suppliers and partners then it will be important that the office befits the brand / personality and core product/service offering of your business.

Hope this is of value and interest Ben.

What are others thoughts???

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