In praise of the naked business

naked business

By Mark Schaefer

I have a confession to make.

I run my business from a chair.  I’m not kidding.

Writing books. Preparing speeches. Blogging. Consulting with companies from all over the world. It all happens right here.

My chairIt wasn’t always this way.  I have loved having a private, beautiful, quiet office but when I moved a few years ago, I put off setting up the desk for a few weeks as our lives settled into a new home. Weeks turned into months. Months turned into years. I found that I didn’t need all that stuff. I discovered that my desk was simply a place to hold photos, books, and files and I can do all of that on an iPhone.

Consequently, my beautiful desk has remained under cloth sheets in the garage for four years. I have come to embrace the simple, mobile business life. The world headquarters for Schaefer Marketing Solutions is wherever I am sitting.

By contrast, I recently visited the glorious offices of a Fortune 500 Titan. Up on the 50th floor of a skyscraper, many of the private offices had a leather couch, beautiful art, and tasteful decor. Quite a shock to my senses. It occurred to me that they really don’t need any of that stuff. Just get a good chair and wi-fi would do it, right? They could profit from living in my world for a little while!

I’ve come to take pride in this simple business approach. I can beg and borrow a meeting room when I need it. I commandeered the family dining room when I had to spread out documents, outlines, and research while writing a book. I thrive with almost no overhead. I run a naked business.

Naked on the run

We have our house up for sale (time to down-size) and the unpredictable flow of potential buyers has disrupted my nakedness. The other day I had a solid morning of interviews to help promote my new book, Born to Blog. The hub-bub of the local coffee shop certainly would not do. I needed a very quiet space. So I moved my company headquarters to my father-in-law’s house.

“Do you have wi-fi?” I asked my elderly father-in-law.

“I believe so,” he said.

At that point, I should have known this was going to be trouble … but I went ahead and set up shop any way.

He did indeed have wi-fi and I began my first radio interview, which was to last 30 minutes. As soon as I got on the call his grandfather clock started gonging. And it was noon! 12 gongs! LOUD gongs!

I grabbed my laptop, and ran out the nearby door to his back deck to escape the clanging clock.

As I was concentrating on the interview questions, a neighbor with a snow-white handlebar mustache came wandering across the yard. “Is Orville home?” he yelled.  I frantically pointed to my headphones. He looked puzzled. I guess he thought I was hooked up to my computer as some sort of hearing aid because then he started to yell loudly at me, “Is Orville home?”

I ducked back into the house. The phone started ringing. Yes, he still has a home phone. And an answering machine. But not just any answering machine. This is an answering machine that yells “The phone is ringing!  The phone is ringing!” I cannot completely explain this. I think they must have bought this off a late night infomercial or something. “My phone is ringing and I can’t get up!” Or something like that.

I ducked back outside, still towing my laptop.  Another neighbor had just fired up his riding lawn mower. I ducked back inside the house desperate to find a corner of peace and quiet.

The phone was ringing again. A voice came on the answering machine. “Orville, I just wanted to let you know there is a strange man talking to himself on your back porch. Are you safe over there?”

I ran out the front door, as a huge garbage truck came barreling down the street. I ran back inside.

Seeing me run all over the house, my father-in-law concluded that my interview must be over. “Can I make you a salad?” he asked in his booming voice. I muted the call and explained to him that I was still working. As my mother-in-law started her vacuum cleaner.

I ran into the bathroom and closed the door.  Finally, I had a quiet space. Small. But quiet. The lights flickered. And when out. The power, and the wi-fi, was gone.

Naked business revisited

OK. Maybe I do need that office.

I was traumatized by this experience, or maybe I am simply looking for an excuse to treat myself to a real office again. Perhaps I was a bit hasty about this naked business thing.

As we prepare to move again — hopefully for the last time in a LONG time — I’m re-considering the idea of a big ol’ manly office. A moffice. Or, I guess “mofo” for short? My mofo — a place to escape into business bliss!

I’ve proved that I can successfully create, consult, and coach on a global scale without the trappings of leather and fine art. However, as I enter the next phase of my career, it might just be enshrined in mahogany after all.  Moffice 2.0?

How do you work? Naked or covered up? Go.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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