The age of the virtual company is upon us. Future historians may look back and declare that the concept of offices began their slow but inevitable extinction some time around 2011 A.D. Our grandchildren will watch movies like Office Space with a touch of bewilderment—did people really have to sit in front of a desktop computer for eight hours every day?
Yes, this is all an exaggeration. After all, some offices will need to provide a space for face-to-face meetings. But it’s hard to argue that the growing popularity of the home-based business model isn’t becoming a characteristic of the entrepreneurial mindset. Now, more than half of all small businesses in the United States are based out of the entrepreneur’s home, according to the Small Business Administration. That’s around 15 million home-based businesses, and represents about $500 billion in revenue every year.
Obviously, the costs of running a business from home is advantageous because it’s cheap.
It’s simple, says Danny Wong, co-founder of Blank Label, a start-up that offers custom men’s shirts. Wong and his co-founders have a completely bootstrapped approach to their business model—and opening an office just didn’t make sense for them. “We just didn’t want to pay,” Wong says. Blank Label is also a paradigm for the 2011 version of a virtual company. They use video chat and Google Wave when the team isn’t together, and they’ve never even met one of their developers, who lives in Orange County. “We video chat with him, but he’s always kind of in the dark,” Wong says.