Running a small business is an exciting but sometimes complex venture when first getting started. On the one hand, you get to be your own boss and engage in work that you find interesting and meaningful. On the other hand, you have the responsibility of handling every detail, interesting or not.

One administrative task you may have to take care of is finding an office space for rent. Moving your small business into an office is a great sign that your business is taking off, but it can also feel overwhelming if you have never searched for an office before. The following is a breakdown of the various types of office space available for rent, how to go about finding one, and some pitfalls to avoid.

Consider Your Requirements

Before starting your search, think about exactly what you need from an office. Different businesses require different sizes, layouts, and locations based on the number of people who work in the office and the type of work they do. Here are some important points to consider:

Office Size

When determining how much space you need for your office, think about how many people work with you and what they do. If you work alone or with just a handful of other people, you may need nothing more than a small office space for rent. If you have more employees, you will clearly need more space to accommodate them.

It is important to plan ahead for how your business will grow with time. Do you intend on hiring more workers in the near future? If your business is rapidly growing, you may want to rent more space than you need so that it has room to grow.

Office Layout

The type of layout that works best depends on the nature of your business. Consider who comes into your office and what they do there.

  • If you work in a business where confidentiality is critical, such as counseling or law, you will need to find a private office space for rent.
  • Any business that involves clients coming in and out of the office will need a reception area and a waiting room.
  • If you host large meetings or make presentations, you may need one or more conference rooms.
  • If you plan to sell a product directly from your office, you should look for an office with a dedicated retail space.


Parking may or may not be something to look for when you search for office space for rent. How much parking you need depends on the location of your business, how many employees you have, and how many visitors will be coming to your office.

If your business is located in a small town, the suburbs, or a city like Los Angeles where everyone drives, you will need access to parking. How many spaces you require depends on how many people work in your office and how many clients you expect to come in and out each day. A lack of parking is an inconvenience that can literally drive clients away.

If your business is located in a city like New York where most people walk or rely on public transportation, parking may be less important.


When choosing the location of your office, think about its ease of access and proximity to clients or related services. Look for an office in a convenient location: a busy road, an office park, or a shopping plaza. It may also make sense to choose a location close to related services; for example, medical office space for rent near a hospital or a law office for rent close to the courthouse.

Establish a Budget

Establishing a budget is one of the most important steps to take before looking for an office. There is no point in looking at places you cannot afford or, even worse, renting an office beyond your means because you failed to plan carefully and accordingly. Starting with an affordable number in mind sets you up for success.

The first thing that most people focus on when budgeting for an office rental is square footage. Calculate how much square footage you need and multiply it by the average price per square foot for office space in your area. This price varies regionally, with office space in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., costing much more than office space in Dallas or Atlanta.

Remember that your business will incur other monthly expenses in addition to rent, so be sure to account for those when determining your rental budget. Other expenses may include staff wages, utilities, office supplies, technology, and common area maintenance fees for areas such as the lobby, hallways, and elevator.

If your budget is low, you can focus on finding a cheap office space for rent that still meets the needs of your business.

Compare Different Types of Office Spaces for Rent

Before you start looking for an office, think about the different types of office set-ups in your area. While your initial thought might be to go with traditional single office space for rent, there are several other options available. Evaluate the possibilities and consider which one might work best for your business.

Here are a few options for office space rentals:

  • Single office space for rent: The most conventional choice, a single office space provides space and private offices for you and your employees. That privacy can come with a hefty price tag, as a single office is often the most expensive option.
  • Shared office space for rent: Sharing an office with another business is a budget-friendly option great for businesses that are just starting out. This arrangement works well for businesses that do not need a lot of privacy and have only a few employees.
  • Temporary office space for rent: Temporary office space is a great solution for small businesses that do not need office space on a regular basis or are not yet ready to commit to a monthly rental. If you do most of your work from home but occasionally need to meet with a client in person or hold a meeting of coworkers, renting office space on an hourly or daily basis may be the right choice.

Search for an Office Space for Rent

Once you have figured out what you need in an office and what you can afford, it is time to start your search. You can look for space yourself or work with a commercial real estate agent.

If you choose to search by yourself, the internet is full of real estate resources. Many property search engines allow you to search by rent, size, location, and type. If you work with an agent, he or she will show you listings of commercial properties available in your area that can accommodate your business.

Either way, make sure to visit each property in person and inspect the office and its surroundings. In addition to a convenient location and ample parking, other features you should consider include whether the building has adequate air conditioning, heating, and plumbing service, if it is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the nature of the other tenants, if there are any.

Negotiate Your Lease

When you have found an office space for lease that meets your needs and budget, it is time to negotiate the lease. If you are working with an agent, he or she will usually handle the lease. If you are working on your own, here are some points to consider:

  • Base rent: the monthly rent, which may include paying for common space such as hallways and lobbies.
  • Rent escalations: the potential for the landlord to increase the rent over time; 3% per year is the standard.
  • Length of lease: typically between 3 and 10 years. Make sure that you can stay as long as you expect but are not tied to a space for much longer than you want to be.
  • Tenant improvement credits: credit toward rent for any improvements you make to the space.

Try to avoid leases with language that favors the landlord, such as:

  • As-is clauses: allow the landlord to refuse to make improvements or repairs.
  • Transfer limitations: prevent you from subletting the space if you need to move out.
  • Use clauses: restrict what you can do in the office, which may impact your ability to change direction.
  • Termination without cause: the landlord can end your lease at any time, for no reason.
  • Increased property taxes: the landlord can add any tax increases to your rent.

Bottom Line

Venturing out on your own and finding a commercial office space for rent is a critical step in growing your small business. Watch out for restrictive leases and keep an eye on your finances while you conduct your search. With thoughtful planning and maybe the help of a good real estate agent, you will find a space for rent for your small business that meets your needs and your budget.