The Young Entrepreneur Council asked 10 successful young entrepreneurs about how to jazz up a tiny, uninviting office or retail space. Here are their best answers.
1. Create a Comfy Reception Area
We've made our reception area very comfortable for guests. First, we added a wall to create the reception area itself. Our executive assistant always welcomes guests by offering them a beverage and we also have comfortable couches, calm lighting, a wide variety of magazines (from The Economist to AdAge to Sports Illustrated) and candy to snack on.
-- Jesse Pujji, Ampush
2. Customers, Meet Fido!
Blueye fosters rescue animals. We introduce our foster dogs to new customers--we've been lucky they've been well-behaved! Clients are always surprised and delighted that we care about helping rescued animals, and having dogs really brightens up the office. Plus, it's great to work together to get them adopted.
-- Abby Ross, Blueye Creative
3. Entertain Visitors (But Keep It Classy)
Make it feel inviting and warm. We've tried to create an atmosphere where anyone can feel comfortable. Interactive art, with QR codes and funny messages, keeps a person entertained while he waits for an appointment. Humor always works, but keep things classy and fun. Don't make it feel like the dentist's office or the local mortuary. -- Jordan Guernsey, Molding Box
4. Snacks Make Everyone Happy
We think of our office like our home. A good host always welcomes visitors with an office of something to drink or eat, and we treat customers the same way. We have a variety of snacks, from candy to fruit, as well as beverages. Welcoming your guests like friends and partners makes everyone more comfortable and happier. -- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
5. Mirror Mirror...
Mirrors are a great way to make any space appear larger. On a budget? Look for a full-size mirror on Craigslist or at Ikea to hang on your office wall. Not only will it add needed dimension, but you can also make sure you look your best before heading out.
-- Benjamin Leis, Sweat EquiTees
6. Fake a Bigger Space With Light Colors
Even the tiniest storefront or office space doesn't have to feel claustrophobic. Make your space appear larger and more welcoming by bringing in natural daylight, utilizing the wall space to avoid clutter, removing unnecessary walls, and painting the walls light and airy colors such as beige, light blue, or cream. -- Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings
7. A Smile Goes a Long Way
Make sure that whoever works by the entrance or reception knows the importance of greeting everyone with a smile and asking them how their day is going. People could be in a bad mood or just passing by, but having that first impression be a positive one--not just "sign your name and someone will be right out"--can go a long way towards putting that customer in a more positive mood. -- Aron Schoenfeld, Do It In Person
8. Never Keep Guests Waiting
The best way to make a guest feel welcomed is to acknowledge them and not keep them waiting. Maintain a pleasant waiting room atmosphere, but make sure it's a short stay for your guests.
-- Lisa Nicole Bell, Inspired Life Media Group
9. Show Your True Company Colors
When we moved into our first office, the walls were painted a boring white, which not only depressed our team, but definitely didn't convey the right image to customers that came by the office. To resolve this issue, we covered half of our office walls in our signature Tatango orange color, which not only was a great team building exercise, but also helped brighten up the office for vistors. -- Derek Johnson, Tatango
10. Deck the Walls
What you put on the walls makes a huge difference as far as first impressions go. Our office isn't very large, but we display our logo in several places, and also have framed photographs of scenes from our city. Giving the customer something to look at while they wait allows them to size up your company's attitude, and conveys a message about who they will be working with.
-- Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics