Establishing a U.S. office is a crucial initial step when expanding your business to the U.S. This is because an American business address is needed for many tasks that require documentation, like setting up a U.S. bank account or applying for visas. In addition, when entering a new market, it is good to show that your company is present in the location of that market. Having a U.S. office address is a good way to show that your company is on the ground and committed.
This may seem like a tough endeavor at first because shopping for real estate is typically a lengthy process. But don’t fret – there are many temporary and relatively low commitment options, especially in New York and the San Francisco Bay Area, for quickly obtaining a U.S. office and address. With the rise of WeWork and rapid growth of startup culture, short-term leases and alternative address options have become increasingly common. Startups have the option of joining a coworking space, utilizing an accelerator space, subscribing to a virtual office service, or renting a traditional office.
Startups have taken a pivotal shift away from cubicles and standard offices. Nowadays, it is much more common for startups to base themselves in coworking spaces: office buildings shared by multiple startups and other small companies.
Coworking spaces have several useful perks. Most notably, they advocate for a community that can’t be found in a traditional private office. In a coworking space, every individual office is occupied by a different startup. One building can have over 100 different startups. This makes it easy to find advice from the founder next door or pick the brains of the entrepreneurs down the hall. It is also common for coworking spaces to have an area to host events. Some coworking spaces have a rooftop lounge while others may have a stage with large display screens. Many demo days, happy hours, and other tech networking events take place within coworking spaces. These event spaces are often inexpensive or free for tenants to rent and reserve.
Startups on a budget can usually find a coworking office space for under $1,000 a month. Due to the fact that startups frequently change their team size and grow quickly, leases for coworking spaces typically have a low time commitment. It is uncommon for a coworking space to require over a year of commitment on a lease, instead leases are often made on a month-to-month basis.
For an even more flexible option, some coworking spaces allow businesses to sign up for hot-desks and offer places for employees to work throughout the building without requiring businesses to rent their own private office. Coworking spaces usually have large lobbies and common areas where people can comfortably work from. If a startup does not require a formal private office, they can pay a reduced rent and gain access to these common areas and all the other perks that the coworking space has to offer, including a mailing address. Hot-desks can cost less than half the price of renting a private office.
The most common coworking space is WeWork, with nearly 50 locations in New York City alone, but there are many smaller privately-owned coworking spaces in the U.S. as well. Here you can find a map of every coworking space in the greater New York City area (over 200!). Meanwhile, here you can find a curated list of the best coworking spaces in the San Francisco Bay area.
Certain accelerators and incubators allow their startups to adopt their business address. This is a simple and quick way to obtain a U.S. address without worrying about real estate tax or signing additional third-party contracts. Sometimes accelerators and incubators may even provide their portfolio companies with free office space. This is especially the case with corporate accelerators. Large companies typically have ample room to designate as office space for their portfolio companies. For example, Disney, Microsoft, and IBM all have accelerator programs that provide office space as a program perk. These spaces also provide the benefit of being in close proximity to experts and fellow startups, which is always a plus.
It is important to note that accelerator and incubator programs typically only last six months to a year. After the program is done, access to the space will likely be withdrawn. In other words, accelerator and incubator space is only a short-term solution for finding a U.S. office and address. Afterward, a startup would need to find a more permanent spot. More information about corporate accelerators, including whether or not they provide office space, can be found here. We at German Accelerator also provide free office space to our participating startups in both Silicon Valley and New York.
If a company does not require a physical presence but still needs a U.S. mailing address, a virtual office may be the best option to pursue. A virtual office is an address service that does not provide physical office space. Signing up for this service would mean that U.S. mail, including legal documents, could be sent to the specified address and a representative from your company could pick it up at their convenience.
Some companies and coworking spaces offer virtual office agreements for a fee. This can typically be done for less than $100 a month. Be sure to note that if this address is posted on your website, it is wise to make it clear that it is a virtual office only. This way visitors will not be disappointed when they show up to the specified address and do not find anyone from your company there.
Sometimes the old-fashioned way of doing business is still the best path to take. Of course, traditional office spaces are an option for startups. In fact, some traditional office spaces have followed the trend of coworking spaces and are now beginning to offer more flexible leases for startups. This may be the best option to pursue once a company outgrows their coworking space and wants their own place to call home. There are many resources to easily shop for traditional office spaces and we’ve collected a few of them below.