When you have a business idea that you are unable to get a loan for, you have to start it the old fashioned way – working another job and doing your business on the side.
Will Guthrie, President, started Blue Laser Design, a web design and development firm, in the year 2000.
“I started out of my apartment for two years and then worked a deal with a guy to split any profit in exchange for office space and bartered work,” he says. “I was not able to get any loans or assistance to start. I worked another job to help bring in money as I was growing the company.”
It took three years for the company to make a profit.
Once it did, Guthrie moved the business out of his apartment into a single story building in Upper Arlington, then to the Continent, and finally to his current space of 2,877 square-feet in the Arena District.
“We have had both sides of our space for about five years, and we doubled the space about two and a half years ago,” he says. He now has 14 employees.
“We had some contacts already in the building, and we took a tour and fell in love,” he says when asked how he found his current office. “The brick, huge wood beams, wood floors, entire building atmosphere, view, layout, curved walls, castle door sliding wall, huge metal table – we loved pretty much everything.”
The space was in great shape and Guthrie and his employees designed some moveable space dividers to section off areas for creative writing enclaves and quieter spots to develop ideas, and to have flexible work areas. Guthrie built the dividers himself.
For other furnishings, the company likes to source from IKEA, and some of the work benches are leftover from the leather company that was previously in the space.
They used the creation of a mural as a team building exercise.
“We split the canvas in sections and as each section merged, the teams had to work together to make it as seamless as possible,” he says.
Guthrie empowers his employees by giving them all have a say in how the business grows, what decisions are made, and the eventual destiny of the agency.
“Growing your own business is rewarding but in no way is it easy,” he adds. “You must not have a personality that gets stressed easily, you need great amounts of determination, a network of people with knowledge you can tap into, and the ability to work through discouragement.”
To learn more about Blue Laser Design, visit bluelaserdesign.com.
Do you know of, have, or work in, a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, please contact Anne Evans.
Photos by Walker Evans.