News & Research Archive

The Do's and Don'ts for Startups looking for Office Space

Nov 11, 2009

Over the last few months we have been seeing a number of new startups looking for office space. This is a very good sign that the economy is turning around. Most of these startups fall under two categories. You have Tech startups that continue to attract venture capital money with their new ideas and startups put together by people that have now lost their jobs and have decided to start their own business rather than to continue looking for a job in a depleted job environment.

Both of these startup groups suffer the same problems in getting their business off the ground. First, they know what product or service they want to introduce but they have limited experience in setting up an actual business. This includes finding and securing office space. Second, they have little time to devote to anything but working on their core business, looking for office space is secondary to getting their business funded and getting clients to support the business. Below are some dos and don’ts that these start ups should watch for to insure that they are success in securing their offices.

Don't - send a person to look for office space that is not a decision maker. There is nothing that wastes more time than this. Over and over again I have worked with non decision makers that eventually bring a short list of buildings to the owner of the business only to find that none on the short list is a consideration because the core important needs of an office search was not properly understood by what we call the "scout".

Do - check online to educate yourself on buildings and pricing. Also educate yourself ahead of time on the process it takes. At, we have an extensive news and research section that carries numerous articles on how best to secure your offices and current market conditions.

Don't – try to do this search without a professional broker representing you. Commercial real estate brokers are a free service to the tenant and are paid for by the building you ultimately choose. Check online and find a broker and get them involved in the process at the beginning of your search. They will provide you will a proper list of buildings that will fit your exact needs and price points and can handle your entire transactions. Plus they have resources to moving companies, furniture vendors and more to get your complete office off the ground.

Do – give yourself a realistic time frame to find office space. Typically the process to secure office space takes one month to find and successfully negotiate a lease. If you take a sublease space, add one additional month to get landlord's approval. If any sort of tenant improvements is required you may have to add three to four months. If this time frame does not work for you, consider an 'executive suite' as an alternative to get your business up and running now while you take the necessary time to secure a permanent office for the future.

Do - figure out how many square feet you actually need for the firm ahead of time, not how much I can afford and we will add more space later. Moving an office is expensive and prices for office space are very attractive right now. Take enough square footage to accommodate your realistic growth plans for the next year or two. Typically figure 200 square feet per person. That includes where the person sits plus their circulation needs.

Don't – expect to find a lot of choices for month-to-month or less than two-year lease terms. Typically leases run 3-5 years. You may not be able to see that far ahead in your business plan but your only fear should be if your business does not make it. If you feel your business will grow beyond your current office space, look to secure your initial office space in a larger building that could accommodate your growth needs in the future. Most building owners would be glad to tear up your existing lease for a larger space lease in the future.

For more information on the process feel free to contact us at Starboard TCN Worldwide at 415-765-6900.


Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 24 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

Contact Us

Name must not be empty
Please provide a valid email
Message should not be empty


TCN Worldwide