We have signed a new lease. Here is the scoop.

As Elvis Costello once said, ‘Every day I write the book.’ As an entrepreneur you make decisions every day that write the story of your business. Sometimes the decisions are large and profound. Other times the decisions are simply things you decided not to do. But in aggregate, your decisions tell the tale of your business. It is up to you to make the story worth sharing.

Desperately Seeking Office Space

In the summer of 2017 I could see a solid runway in front of my baby advertising agency, The Weaponry. (To be clear, the agency was a baby. We didn’t advertise the benefits of being or having a baby.) Having recently relocated from Atlanta to Milwaukee for family reasons, I  began looking for a legit office space to serve as our world headquarters. Or in Amazonian terms, HQ1.

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This is a sign announcing that this space is for lease. But you probably figured that out on your own.

Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow.

Like a scary rash, The Weaponry was growing at a rapid, yet unpredictable rate. So I began looking for a 1-year lease, which would provide short-term stability, yet long-term flexibility. I captured the entire search in a 3-part series, which I share again here, with hopes that it gives anyone with aspirations of having their own office a vision for how the process works.

The Looking For Office Mini-Series:

  1. Looking for office space: A startup story.
  2. Looking For Office Space Part 2: The Messy Middle.
  3. Looking for Office Space Part 3: We Have An Office!
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This is not our office. This is a completely naked office we saw during our search.

Our Current Space

We signed a 12-month lease on 1000 square feet of office space in the fall of 2017. (You can get a good look at our office here.) We worked hard to make the space look and feel like home. But the year flew by, and our initial lease expired on December 31st, 2018. We grew, as expected. But several of our new employees were in Columbus and Atlanta. So we still weren’t in trouble with the fire marshal in Milwaukee.

We really liked our location. So to prepare for the end of our first lease we looked at every available office space in our 5-story building. I appreciated the way our property owners worked with us as we developed a plan for our next chapter. I think they appreciated the fact that when they came to talk to us we didn’t look like we were about to pull a Baltimore Colts on them and skip town in the middle of the night.

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The writing is still on the wall.

What We Are Doing Now.

After much deliberation, this is what we signed into our new contract on January 2nd:

  1. We are staying in our current space, for now.  We are not yet feeling stretched to capacity. Plus, we love our current space, and have made it our home.
  2. We signed a 13-month extension. Our landlord asked for at least a 1-year commitment. And although we looked at 1, 3 and 5-year options, a 1-year lease was the smallest financial commitment I could make. And given how much growth I see on our horizon, it is hard to tell what our needs will be like more than a year down the road. Why 13 months? A 12-month lease would have us moving between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. And I want to be home sipping eggnog.
  3. Our rent went up 2.5%. That’s all I have to say about that.
  4. We added a right of first refusal on another space. We saw 3 other offices in our building that were of considerable interest to us. But rather than moving now, we decided to put first dibs on a great space overlooking the Milwaukee River (like our current space) on the 5th floor. #Penthouse  #NotTheNaughtyMagazine #IsThatEvenStillAThing

The space on the 5th floor would double our square footage, adding several more individual offices, a bigger conference room, a storage room, reception desk and a break room with water, a fridge, and dishwasher. The 5th floor location would also make me feel less guilty about taking the elevator than I do when I ride it to the 2nd floor.

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A view of the Milwaukee River, not taken in January.

Key Takeaway

We have decided to be conservative in our commitments. Yet we have a nice option if we outgrow our space in the next 13 months. Which is highly likely. I have discovered that as an entrepreneur you need to know when to be conservative and when to take risks. We think we got this one right. But I’d like to know what you think of our decision. I’m always up for some well-considered counsel. Leave a message in the comment section and let me know if you would have chosen a different adventure.

Why going too far is so good for you.

One of my goals for 2019 is to push things further. I have always been fascinated with limitations, and what it takes to move beyond them. We are capable of far more than we realize. And if we don’t flirt with the limitations of our minds, muscles and machines we will never know what is truly possible. And suddenly, I’m hoping my kids are not reading this.

Discovering Limits

I find great pleasure in discovering the outer boundaries. I have driven my cars out of gas, just to know where the true limit is. For those of you afraid to experiment with a fume-y gas tank, they can go farther than the gauges advertise. Knowing the true limitations helps you recalibrate, and know what your real options are.

My Junior year in high school I pushed my automitve limits and got into a single car accident. Late one night I was speeding way too fast and lost control of my Ford Escort on a dirt road. I flew off a 10-foot embankment, hit a tree in mid-air and landed on the passenger side of the car. When I came to a violent stop, I was staring at a herd of cows who were staring back at me as if a UFO had just landed in their pasture. And we all know cows and UFOs don’t mix.

The fascinating reward of losing control of your car is that you discover where the limit of control is. And that is a valuable asset the rest of your life. What’s more, I walked away from the accident without a scratch. And the next day in my track and field meet, I broke a 25-year-old conference record in the discus, and set my new personal record. (#TwoFer)  My Escort was tougher than I would have ever imagined too. I never had it repaired, and drove it for another 7 years.

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Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali, the famous surrealist, was known for pushing his art into strange, new and bizarre realms. When people told Salvador Dali he had gone too far he would respond:

It’s the only place I have ever wanted to go. -Salvador Dali

I love this quote. By pushing to the far reaches of his imagination, Dali created artwork like the world had never seen. In 2016, Dali’s Painting, Portrait De Paul Eluard, sold for $22,000,000. Had he not gone too far it is likely that we would have never known Dali’s name, or his melted clocks, or his redonculous stache.

Creativity

At The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, I often ask our team to take things too far. Find the breaking point in a concept, design, or layout. Find how many words is too few. Find the edge of good taste or credibility by pushing beyond it. Because you don’t really know where the limits are until you have bumped up against them. Or better yet, until you have moved beyond them. This is true in the physical, mental and emotional world. It is true in business, art, science, athletics, fashion, medicine, travel and humor. We must push the limits to explore, innovate and discover.

Key Takeaway

This year, go too far. Find the edges and boundaries. Find out what you are really capable of. And where things really fall apart. It may be much farther out than you thought. And discovering where the true limitations are, or are not, may be the most valuable thing you do in 2019. Unless you are my kids. In which case, keep the grape juice off the carpet like your Mom said.

Happy New Year! You now have to begin again at zero.

2018 was an amazing year for me. It was fun, productive and profitable. I felt as if I was racking up points on a scoreboard all year long. I developed great new relationships, new clients and new revenue. I had new ideas, new opportunities, new experiences and new travel. But when I woke up yesterday it was all gone. The scoreboard that tallied all of my points in 2018 had been turned off. Everything had reset to Zero. And I was all like WTF?!?

My Business

My business, The Weaponry, has not made a single dime yet in 2019 (obscure reference to when Americans used to carry real money). We haven’t created any advertisements, designed any logos or scripted any videos. We haven’t crafted any smart strategic plans. We haven’t written any witty copy. We haven’t bought any media or developed any websites.

We haven’t created any new relationships. We haven’t earned any trust. We haven’t won any new business. We haven’t returned any emails, calls or texts. There have been no meetings. No travel. And no new hires to celeberate (in fact it’s just another ordinary day).

In short, we haven’t done anything at all.

My Blog

My blog has reset to zero too. I haven’t written or published any new posts yet this year. No views, likes, comments or shares. I haven’t passed along any newly learned lessons. There have been no new insights on entrepreneurship, success, creativity, advertising, or networking. I have no new subscribers this year. No views from the other side of the world. No silly jokes or obscure references to separate the insiders from the outsiders. No outlandishly inappropriate asides written to make readers snarf (blow drinks or other liquidy foods out the nose).

Reality Check

It’s a new year. Whether you had a great 2018 or a terrible 2018, it’s now over. And you, me and everyone else are starting over again with no points and no wins.

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Let’s Do This!

So today, January 2nd, 2019, my team and I will get to work. We’ll start at zero and see how much we can accomplish in the next 364 days. We plan to double down, and double the business again in 2019.

It’s All About The Team…

While it is true that I haven’t done anything yet this year, I do have an amazing team. Our Weapons are super smart, strategic, creative and experienced. But they are also extremely hard-working, fun, funny, collaborative and kind. They are our unfair competitive advantages.

…And The Clients

We have great clients from Washington D.C. to San Francisco. We have been busy developing trust and keeping our commitments. Which means that we are scoring points at a faster and faster pace. We have been building our brand and our reputation. Which has provided us with potential opportunities with new clients that could stretch our business far beyond the United States in the coming year.

Key Takeaway

It is time for all of us to get back to work. It’s time to stoke this fire to see just how hot it can get.** Time to score new points. Time to build on our momentum. Time to turn our potential into reality. Time to rack up great new wins that will make this another year worth remembering.

**But remember, no matter how hot it gets in here, don’t take off all your clothes (at least not at work, or around anyone you work with). We learned this over the last couple years. And that didn’t go away at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Sorry Nelly.