Say goodbye to your parents’ garage or a coworking space — or anything inbetween. It’s time to move your startup into its official home, the headquarters. While your final decision depends on how deep your investor’s pockets are or profitable your idea is, get as close as possible to your ideal address.
Do you want it in a prime location then? Is the blueprint in your mind based on the open space concept? Will your office have a large cafeteria, a yoga room, and a futuristic lounge? The task and responsibility are great. But if you keep searching, you’ll find actionable answers. Some are more or less popular than the others. Here are a few examples of both.
#1. Choose an urban center
Startups tend to set up shop in areas where other startups thrive. But where are your fellow entrepreneurs flocking? Silicon Valley remains undefeated at the top, according to the 2017 global startup ecosystem ranking of the Startup Genome Project. New York and London join it in second and third place, respectively.
Looking more closely, you’ll see an increase in startup movement from suburban office parks to urban centers, which are more diverse and energized. London is a good example of how tech innovation hubs continue to lead in the race. Its vibrant startup ecosystem is even driving some real estate market trends. See the infographic below:
Infographic by London Office Space
When you plant yourself right where the action is — be it London or San Francisco or Bangalore — you benefit from its culture and community. More than that, your blossoming startup gets to contribute something to the network. It is not meant to work as a lone wolf anyway.
#2. Look for a high-value space
Choosing a startup hub as your address is one thing. Splurging on a fancy office is another. Not all HQs materialize Googleplex type. But affordable doesn’t equate to boring either. Options now range from traditional to managed to Airbnb-like offices. Consider the overall value of the space you’re eyeing. Would potential employees like working there? Are there any good dining spots in the area? Does this building have the conveniences, e.g. parking, needed during client visits? In other words, do your homework. You should also know if there are competitors in the same building or within a certain radius.
#3. Collaborate on the design
It is imperative that you build the office out of different perspectives, not just yours. During the design stage, ask for the input of existing employees. If you’ve just started staffing, consult reports and studies. Many papers have shown a correlation between workplace environment quality and individual job satisfaction. For starters, make sure there are spots designated for collaborative and independent thinking. Some experts suggest a combination of concepts. There are cubicles for individual workers and common rooms for team meetings. Meanwhile, check out these startups with the coolest interiors for inspiration.
#4. Consider your growth potential
Say you’re a team of 5 this month. What is your headcount in the next 3 to 6 months? If you answered “not 5 for sure”, adjust to that expectation. Fast-growing startups should look for a space that is adequate or flexible. For instance, most managed offices have removable wall dividers suitable for companies with foreseeable floor area expansion. Everybody’s bound to agree that moving out is headache-inducing. The best you can do is to prevent congestion in the workplace or changing locations every time you scale. Your employees — even your investor/s — will thank you for it.
#5. Customize your space
Do you go for a minimalist or a color-splashed interior? Would you want your employees to feel like they’re brainstorming in a Japanese home or an IKEA showroom? Let your startup’s identity shine when outfitting your office.
Again, you don’t have to splurge when buying furniture and equipment. Did you know that there is a startup that sells gently-used furniture? The marketplace is known for its well-curated items. If you’re looking for low-cost and brand new, Amazon is the place to be. And yes, perhaps your parents would like to donate the antique table that’s been sitting in the basement for years. There’s no harm in asking.
#6. Prioritize safety and security
Do not be shy to ask about safety and security features. Yes, it is standard for buildings to have fire exits and guards stationed at various entry points. But you’d want to know if the guards go through consistent emergency response training to update their skills and know-how. Are there enough tools such as CCTV cameras and fire extinguishers in the building?
Aside from physical features, you must also double-check the terms regarding connectivity. Some leasing companies favor certain internet service providers over others. If you’re getting stuck with a provider, know how many cybersecurity layers does the building have in place.
#7. Try bartering
Bartering is a concept based on the ancient trade system of the same name. The Better Business Bureau has discussed the merits of bartering in growing small businesses. In its modern application, you can participate in an exchange of services instead of objects. Two main factors to consider: the other party is open to bartering and you’re offering a service of the same value.
You can try bartering for an office space. This move is beneficial for those who find a three-year lease a liability at this point. You can start looking for potential lessors on Craigslist.
#8. Buy only what you need
Once you’ve nailed the ideal space for your startup, it’s time to shop for your office needs. From printers and air coolers to wall art, you can now buy whatever’s on your list. One last time, make sure to double-check that list. And remember, it’s function over form. All the better if you can find both in one item.
The takeaway here is that you have to look for at least three key things when making the big move to an office. For this list, those things are value, flexibility, and uniqueness. At the end of the day, you and your employees will spend a lot of hours at HQ. It is going to house passionate and energetic people. So invest in planning for and preparing a space they can consider their second home. Further,combine our tips with these ways to boost employee productivity.