Streetwise Advice: Choosing Your First Office

Cheap Space Is Good

Every entrepreneur who looks at office space for the first time is tempted to spend more money than anticipated or budgeted. Resist! You will need that extra cash to get you through start-up or growing pains. Lease space as cheaply as you can. It may not be all you’ve ever dreamed of, but you’re more likely to get to your dream space and stay there if you play it conservatively now.

Leave Some Extra Space

If you envision growth for your company, especially in terms of employee count, leave some space open to accommodate new hires comfortably. Don’t get carried away! Leasing enough space to double the size of your company over the next five years might be a little excessive, but perhaps enough space for the next two or three years that can handle 30 to 50 percent growth is more prudent. But the lease runs five years, you say? Hey, sometimes you just have to add a separate office space later. It’s more important to have a little extra cash in the bank than all the space for your planned-out years of growth.

Try for One-Floor Layouts

Like lots of other businesspeople, I’ve learned from experience that having all of your office space—especially warehouse, manufacturing, or engineering space—all on one floor is much more efficient for interacting with everyone and getting work done. Discount the effectiveness of commercial space that you look at that requires additional floors.

Of course, multiple floors is a lot better that multiple buildings—a situation that I have been in plenty of times. Even a separate office 200 yards away is much, much less convenient, but sometimes it is unavoidable. 

First Appearances Count for Offices, Too!

Even if you won’t receive many customers in your office, put a little extra effort into the entrance of your office. Set up a couple of decent chairs for guests and for job candidates.

Don’t spend tons of money, even on your “front” office. A little energy expended on creating a pleasant atmosphere in your front office will definitely be worthwhile. Employees and visitors alike will appreciate it.

Creating an Office That People Want to Work In

If you can create an office environment that people really want to work in, you’ll be a lot better off—you don’t want your employees to be scared off or unhappy. Great locations and pleasant interior surroundings aren’t the most important assets, either. More important is how you run your business, and how much fun it is to work at your company.

Nevertheless, how you set up your office will have some impact on employee morale. Set aside a small space as an employee lounge area for use at break time or lunch, or even for a late-night rest when work gets demanding. Supply free soda and maybe candy—the little touches can help show that you care and create a feeling of warmth.

About Bob Adams

Bob Adams is a Harvard MBA serial entrepreneur. He has started over a dozen businesses including one that he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He has written 17 books and created 52 online courses for entrepreneurs. Bob also founded BusinessTown, the go-to learning platform for starting and running a business.