Adam Albrecht, CEO of The Weaponry, posted recently about his search for office space. He asked for advice from people who have experience with this, and having started and grown multiple businesses, I have quite a bit. My response on his blog is below.
First off, I’m with you that the status quo is, “a company needs an office… just because they always have.” People think that for the wrong reasons, because to your point people can work anywhere. But as you grow, my advice would be that it is extremely hard to build a culture virtually. We’ve worked together and seen just how difficult it is with a few offices, imagine if you had 30+ people all working in different spots. I’m sure it can be done, but why risk jeopardizing the most important thing about a company – its culture.
Second, my advice on office space is to a) find an agent to rep you, and b) look for a one-year lease or sub-lease. An agent will know how to find you sub-leases you might not ever know about, they’ll know the market trends, and they’ll negotiate on your behalf and protect you.
Don’t lock into anything more than a year. Give yourself time to realize how fast your growth will be before taking on a long-term lease (ultimately most will want 3-5 year commitments.) Sub-leases are usually good for that kind of flexibility. And get IKEA furniture until you go big. Save that dough, bro.
Best of luck!