We entrepreneurs often look at the world around us a bit differently than “civilians.” We can’t help it; we’re always looking for a better solution, the one that not only improves our own lives but solves the problems of millions of other people as well.
After all, who knows better what a business owner needs than another entrepreneur? So it comes as no surprise that entrepreneur (and, oh yes, TV star) Christopher Lowell has just come out with three new lines of furniture designed exclusively for Office Depot that are not only functional, but specifically designed for solo, home-based, and small business owners.
If you’ve ever seen Lowell on TV you know he’s passionate about design. He believes decorating is a form of “empowerment therapy.” So while I will do my best to convey what he told me, words on a page really cannot do justice to Lowell’s outlook.
Like all smart entrepreneurs, Lowell was inspired to create his new furniture lines — Lattix, Geometrix, and Integr8 — because he noticed the rise of home-based businesses in general and mompreneurs in particular and realized that there wasn’t furniture available that was suited for both function (office work) and aesthetics. So he went to the market and asked, “How are you working differently than before? What are your concerns? What do you need?”
He discovered that home-based business owners these days are more mobile, preferring laptops over desktops. They also need office furniture that better fits in with their personal style and doesn’t take up too much space, and they need help getting organized and can’t figure out how to manage their numerous electrical cords. His solution was to create smaller, modular, “classically-designed” pieces that don’t look like they belong in a dorm room, and at a price point people can afford.
Each line has scores of components, including some with a cord management system built right into the base unit (seriously, Lowell told me that containing cords was a “big issue” among those he polled) and others that come with a 5-port USB hub, also built in.
Lowell says his ideas come from the fact he’s an entrepreneur himself and has gone more virtual in his three companies. And he wants to share what he’s learned (“Get your furniture away from the walls, people!”). In addition to the 18 videos he’s created on the Office Depot website that actually walk you through what you need to know, Lowell offers these tips:
- Choose workstation components finished on all four sides. This allows you to move your workstation away from the walls and float or angle them into the center of rooms.
- Tackle cord management. Look for USB hubs built into desktops to reduce the amount of cords running from your workstation to the nearest wall outlet. This helps you visually integrate your workstation into your home and small business.
- Use decorative, covered storage bins to keep organized. Bins can also be brought to where you need them rather than fixed drawers you have to rummage through.
- Be kind to your electronics. To prevent overheating look for cabinets with ventilated shelves. Many now have slat or wire mesh components where air can more easily circulate. This helps protect and prolong the life of your electronic investments.
- Take time to assess. Look at what furniture, accessories, or equipment you used in the past as opposed to what you use today. If you’re not using it, store it or get rid of it.
To be honest, this was not my first encounter with Lowell. Several years ago he and his team redesigned my office at the publishing company where I worked. I loved the final result, mainly because it didn’t look like your standard office with beige walls and brown faux-wood furniture.
Today I’m the owner of a small business that’s about to go virtual, and Lowell’s advice once again hits home for me. Lowell designed furniture to be more productive and efficient so small business owners can be more productive and efficient. It’s all part of Christopher Lowell’s mantra: “You can do it.” And those are four words every busy entrepreneur needs to hear.
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