Growth Hacking – a well-used phrase in the StartUp stratosphere. It’s that magic formula perhaps we all reach for, but often fail to find in a sea of advice. You’re probably already doing some growth hacking without realising it. If you’re working from home, using free software, getting voluntary help for your business from friends and family, utilising grants in any way; you’re growth hacking too. Every time you manage to move your business forward for free, without expert advice or expensive tools and materials, you’re growth hacking.

But I sometimes find the overall growth hacking concept a little overwhelming if I think of it as one big aspiration. Breaking it down into bite-size challenges works best for me. And this is how I managed to make my first major breakthrough: Office Hacking.

Starting up and working from home is living the dream to many. For the first few months it seems like bliss. Take breaks when you like, multi-task your tea-break time with DIY and laundry, take the dog out when the weather’s best, pick the kids up without a rush. For some that’s the idyll, and will generate enough spare time and income to create the perfect work-life balance. But for those with growth on their mind, after a while working from home can start to feel like it’s holding you and your business back.

Here are some free or affordable ways to start making the transition away from the home office, break away from domesticity and to look and feel more professional and more motivated.

Meeting and eating

A classic antidote to break up the business day: holding your supplier or client meetings over lunch means you don’t have to hire a meeting room and you don’t need to worry about hiring a house cleaner as your contacts won’t be going anywhere near your home office. Of course eating out for lunch regular can become expensive, so just meeting for coffee or a juice smoothie is fine too. If you’re fortunate enough to live near a trendy city you’ll be spoilt for choice for interesting options like bubble tea, mocktails and malt shakes!

Upsides: Makes you look sociable, trendy and fun

Downsides: Can cost a lot or be quite noisy, not very private for discussing commercials

The Starbucks brigade

It’s a little bit 2010 but there are plenty of comfy coffee shops and it’s hard to find one without free Wi-Fi. I would recommend not sitting on the sofa or armchairs though, because I can guarantee by the end of the day you’ll have a stiff neck and a sore back. And whatever you do, make sure you have a bag that allows you to take your laptop/tablet with you to the loo or you could lose your livelihood in seconds if left unattended. I live in the countryside, and if I don’t want to drive to the city or town, I have been known to work from the pub. Gastropubs are best as they usually open at 11am to get ready for lunch, are much less fragrant and sticky and have more seating options. If you can nab a nice window seat, you’ll be happy for the day and you could even grab some lunch too.

Upsides: Involves coffee, not too costly

Downsides: Can get very busy and not very ergonomic

Love your local library

It took me a while to brave this one because I think I still have a phobia of the library since my university days. But local libraries are the perfect place to get your head down but still be in an environment that feels busy and keeps you motivated. You can sit at a proper table and spread yourself out, and the spaces are generally clean, tidy and modern and most importantly, quiet. Don’t rely on using the library computers as they are very basic and have an anxiety-inducing time limit on the access and often a pin-access booking system. Take your laptop, your headphones if you like, and work on your blogging, networking, prospecting or book keeping. And if you want to take a break, you can have a look around for some inspiring literature or useful text books. Many local libraries in the UK are under threat of closure, so let’s get out there and support them.

Upsides: A very studious environment

Downsides: Not very practical for making or taking phone calls

Co-working

Digital hub cities like London, Berlin, Brighton and Manchester all have a great choice of quirky co-working spaces and now some satellite towns (even Eastbourne!) are jumping on the co-working philosophy too. Shared office spaces where you can rent a desk for the day, month or longer are very practical. In most co-working environments you can pay a little extra to have your own dedicated phone line on their VOIP system even for just a day. You can access the printer and usually there’s complimentary tea and coffee on tap. If you visit regularly, you’re very likely to build good working relationships with like-minded people that you share the space with, and be able to refer clients to each other and build your network.

Upsides: Almost like home, dedicated phone, office environment

Downsides: Can be quite costly depending on location, access sometimes restricted to certain hours.

growth hacking

The Hub Islington, co-working space in London, UK on 24th October 2012.

Have connection will travel

And if none of these options appeal to you, then do bear in mind that if you can supply your own mobile wi-fi connection you can work pretty much anywhere that you would like to. Personally I like to tether my iPhone with my computer using my personal hotspot. This works perfectly well when you have 3g or 4g signal. I use O2 and have a great data package as part of my sim only phone contact. I also have a 3 Mobile Huawei device that allows me to connect up to 10 devices and has 15gb of data a month – this is a fantastic contingency solution for if and when the broadband might go down at home for a day, for example after a storm. It also means that I can be the hostess-with-the-mostest at meetings and let my companions use my wi-fi connection instead of having to ask for the code at the coffee house or using unsecure connections.

More about Growth Hacking:

What is growth hacking https://www.quora.com/What-is-growth-hacking