Seal Entrepreneur Series – Part 3 Pick your Shelter Wisely to Survive

In survival training, being able to find or create a shelter is
essential to ward off various dangers – inclement weather and wild animals to
name a few.
Surviving in business requires “shelter” as well, but the needs for a viable business are changing.  
Recently there was an article written about a company that I have a management contract with to handle all of their escalated customer service.  As such, my business address was reflected as the address for the company on the Better Business Bureau.  An enterprising commenter on the article decided to go to Google Street View and “expose” to the world that my office was supposedly in the strip mall that he showed in the picture, which obviously meant that we weren’t a “real” company.  Like many entrepreneurs (and especially seal entrepreneurs), I work from home, but elect to have my business address as a Suite number in a UPS store.  No crime or deep expose possible out of that.  
For years, you were only a valid business if you had a
proper office, with a receptionist and all the appropriate departments visible
to all who visit you.   Your website had a picture of your office building and if you had really “made it”, the company signage outside.  Your office and
the attendant infrastructure were your “shelter”.  But that shelter came with a cost – known as
Today’s “seal entrepreneur” (read part 2 of this series if
you don’t know what that is) has likely had an office and a full complement of
staff, perhaps even in multiple locations around the country or around the
world.  But today, business survival
doesn’t look like that anymore. 
If you take a tour of my company, we would likely do it
virtually from my “office” at the local Starbucks or perhaps the Panera Bread
nearest your “office”.  Neither of us has
to say that we “office” in our family room or in a spare bedroom.  I would introduce you to my call center,
which may be a group of scrappy entrepreneurs in New Orleans leveraging
post-Katrina tax credits or an innovative group in Jamaica.  It may even be business women that have shifted
their focus to being there for their kids, working at home, but committing to
being a virtual call center or a chat agent 5 hours a day.  
As we tour my hosting center so you can see
the security of our IT environment, I’d be walking you through an online tour
of Rackspace, a company that specializes in cloud based hosting and
computing.  And you want to see my
accounting department?  That is an
individual that I have known for a decade that works out of her home and does
our bookkeeping and reporting two days per month. 
If you are building a new business and are looking for Class
A office space and trying to raise money to hire and fill out your entire
organization chart on day one, time to rethink your “shelter” model.  
There is a time and a place to have dedicated office space
and to take key functions in-house.  But
this is 2014 and the world is different and it is in fact flat.  You don’t have to take on the cost base of a
mature company to actually become one. 

Seal entrepreneurs are versatile and they are
innovative.  They don’t spend money until
they have it.  
This is the kind of
entrepreneur that should be a magnet for investors.   
Hey, that is a great metaphor.  I am a seal entrepreneur and I AM a money magnet.  
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