How to build a thriving studio

Make better decisions when it comes to office space and equipment.

01. Location isn't everything

When it comes to office space, new agencies often start small and cheap. "We started in a craphole," recalls Wade. "It looked like a taxi office. Really cheap rates and a shared kitchen between 300 people. But it was nice, it felt like grass roots." Later the team upgraded, but he still doesn't feel that boutique agencies necessarily need expensive city-centre offices. "What you need is to create kickass work and some great clients; that's more important than the postcode," he insists. 

02. Do you need an office?

Does your studio actually need a traditional office? Hett runs a one-man business as a creative technologist and digital artist, and works out of an art studio. "Although it's more bare bones in terms of space, it's a lot cheaper than even renting a single desk in a shared office," he says. "It's literally just a white cube, but so far it's working for me."

03. Avoid false economies

When you start a business, you need to be frugal, but don't want to take things too far, says East. "Any sizeable expense requires a cost-benefit analysis. If someone can work better, faster or easier with a certain piece of kit, then they can be more productive and generate more revenue."

04. Lease, don't buy

To make sure your staff have the latest kit, consider leasing instead of buying, recommends Giansante. "If we had to buy six brand new Macs for everyone, we'd be looking at around twenty grand's worth of stuff, so we lease everything. Being able to budget and spread that across the next 24 months is perfect: I know exactly how much I'm paying. Everyone gets a brand new computer and if it breaks, it gets fixed at no extra cost." 

05. Listen to your staff

As a small business, you have the opportunity to talk to your staff, so take it, advises Misener. "Our approach has always been to listen to staff regarding what hardware and software they need and then develop a customised plan across the team. It's always about being attentive and being willing to adapt to new innovations, work habits, or client and staff needs."

06. Bring the fun

Sometimes it's a good idea to spend a little money on things that aren't strictly necessary. "It's important to work in a space you enjoy," says Spencer. "So a bloody good sound system and a cappuccino machine are essential. It's also worth spending a little more on art, photography and design books and magazines. They're invaluable for keeping up with what's going on."

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 270; buy it here!

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