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Furnishing Your Office

Get set for business by furnishing your office in style.

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When you are a start-up with limited capital, it may be tempting to put all your money into advertising and equipment and skimp on office furniture. How you furnish your office might not seem to matter, especially if your customers won't see it. And if your office is located at home, the dining room table might look like the most logical choice.

But a nicely furnished office is not just a matter of aesthetics. Grabbing whatever furniture is at hand and plunking it down without a thought to organization can put you at a major disadvantage in terms of productivity.

Improving your own and your employees' performance involves a lot more than finding comfortable chairs. It involves placement of offices or cubicles within the building, proximity to equipment, lighting, desk space, meeting areas, privacy and more. People spend most of their waking hours at the office, so its design has a tremendous effect on morale.

How can you create a high-performance office? The first step is addressing organizational issues of who sits where. The days of big "power desks" and hierarchical corner offices are over. More businesses are turning to flexible environments ideal for small companies where the business owner probably doubles as salesperson.

With today's emphasis on team building, office design is moving away from compartmentalized offices and toward large spaces where teams of employees can work. When setting up your space, think about who needs to work with whom and which employees share what resources. By grouping those people together, you enhance their productivity.

In addition to maximizing your and your employees' productivity, your office may also function as a marketing tool if clients or customers visit. Think about what visitors will see when they come by. Will they be bombarded with noise from one department near the entrance? Or will they see a series of closed doors with seemingly no activity taking place? Visitors shouldn't be overwhelmed by chaos as they walk through your building, but they should see signs of life and get glimpses of the daily activities going on at your company.

Excerpted from Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need, by Rieva Lesonsky and the Staff of Entrepreneur Magazine, © 1998 Entrepreneur Press