I started out in 1200 sq ft warehouse bay, 1618 Camerbur Drive. We had a private bathroom and a finished office and storage on top. It was small and efficient. The most notable thing I could mention about this place was the impression it made on some of the companies larger investors. They appreciated it because it was evident what we were trying to accomplish: low overhead & just enough, nothing more. We paid $950 + Utilities for the first bay, that was $0.79 per square foot, a real steal at the time. When we started growing we expanded into the neighboring bays. At one point we had three 1200 sq ft bays connected together. Then we downsized into two bays again by building out an office configuration that would support our growth. It sucks having to wait for a nice office, but we made our purchases responsibly by using a CAPEX (capital expenditures) spreadsheet which calculated when we should feel comfortable making any purchases for the business.
We reached a point in growth where we felt it was okay to take the next step. We had 25 employees working under 2500 sq ft, it wasn’t too bad really, but it lacked the presence of a “serious business.” We ended up moving our 25+ employees into a penthouse suite at 37 North Orange Ave, “The Angebilt Building.” The building used to be one of the nicest hotels of its time. It actually has a really interesting history for any that care to read. Like most of its occupants, I truly did love this office, but in all reality – it was reckless. We lasted about a year in this space at almost $4,000/month, and that was the end of that venture. I noticed the negative impact it was having on the business almost immediately, and that showed me that stupid pro-forma was wrong and we should have stayed put!
I learned many valuable lessons at that downtown Orlando office, but the thing I took away from that place the most was how I would NEVER run a business. For the next two years I operated out of a virtual office, it was only $99/month, I could use the conference rooms, I could get mail from there and use it as a return address, and it scored me a listing on Google Places and Yelp with a trustworthy address in the center of City Beautiful. The best thing about virtual offices is you can cut costs and still make an impression and facilitate the needs of many small businesses. Eliminating the overhead of office rent and utilities altogether really isn’t the worst idea, especially in the startup phase where most businesses fail. I like it for a number of reasons, but I also believe every business gets to a point where it does more good than bad to have one core office.
After searching for a couple of years, we got the bright idea to rent out a 800 sq ft warehouse bay at only $450/month. The initial purpose of the bay was to fulfill the Amazon and eBay orders. We outgrew that space before we even opened our doors. It just wasn’t right. A couple months later we lucked into a 1500 sq ft road-front office in Winter Park with central air, 7 parking spaces, and the best part – the utilities are included in the $902/month rent! We scored a more than sufficient road front office in prominent Winter Park, Florida for $0.60 a square foot + utilities.. It seemed too good to be true, but it was just a right place at the right time type of thing. The bathrooms were in pretty poor shape so we took it upon ourselves to give them a major overhaul, but aside from that the place is perfect for our team. It’s less than a mile down the street from Full Sail University, in a great location that will attract the right talent. Location is one thing that should help take our various brands to the next level. The rental management would be my only complaint about this office space. It seems the cheaper the rent, the lower the quality management you can expect to have. The managers most likely just don’t get paid enough to care about their job, and the tenants are usually the ones to suffer. For example, we STILL have leaky ducts, an HVAC system that isn’t up to code, and a few other requests that haven’t been resolved in over 90 days. At the big fancy downtown office, this would have never happened, it would have been fixed immediately. So, there is something to consider.
I’m learning to be a fix-it-all kind of guy, it’s saved me a ton of money I didn’t have to begin with! We built out a 1500 sq ft office ourselves, we hired licensed electricians to completely re-do the electrical but aside from that we did everything. The place is immaculate on the inside, I’d say it’s the best looking office I’ve ever worked in. It’s rewarding knowing we did it all ourselves on a very limited budget. The one thing I’ve learned the most through all of these office settings is to not be so wasteful. Not to take on more than I need, or more than I can handle. If you do that, your business is designed to fail.