Building Your Dream Office as a Young CEO : Under30CEO Building Your Dream Office as a Young CEO : Under30CEO
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Building Your Dream Office as a Young CEO

| August 18, 2009 | 23 Comments

Young entrepreneurs sometimes don’t like the idea of having an actual office. It starts to create the feeling of why they avoided the corporate world in the first place. But if done correctly an office can be a home away from home for entrepreneurs. Remember there are no rules here and you can create it however you like. The idea would be to create the exact opposite of the classic corporate office. This is were you take charge and let the fun, excitement and energy that a young company and its team revolve around. Don’t be shy here and don’t adhere to the old rules of the game. Let’s look at how you could design your dream office so it has the style to not only let innovation flow but also give your company some swag.

First Things First:

There are 2 things to consider when looking for the office…windows and space. You won’t be able to change these things. Make sure to get an office with as many windows as possible. Of course we can all buy lights but nothing beats natural lighting and simply having the chance to look outside or maybe open a window for some fresh air.

Don’t cheap out to much with the size of the office. Everybody has different needs and funds but give yourself room to move around. You want to be able to walk around while brokering that million dollar deal on speakerphone with your client. Have space so all your employees can gather and talk, play games or just move around.

Colors Colors Colors:

Were not talking yellow, pink and fluorescent green from top to bottom but spice things up a little. Lucas from says

“We want clean colors that POP. Something about it invokes creativity and keeps us on our feet. Our tables from IKEA are thin, simple and WHITE. The tables all rest on a rich, bright GREEN Flor rug ( This provides that contrast. That’s one of the coolest part of our decor. Flor lets you mix and match their 20×20 carpet squares to come up with your own design and atmosphere that you’re trying to create.  Keeping the colors bright and clean reminds us to be different. After all who wants to be the same as everybody else?”

Its not all about getting bright colors to make yourself stand-out. Many times the more important factor is that contrast. When the colors are sharp and clean even a black and white office can have that “POP”.

Sherry Borsheim from says

pick two of your favorite colors (example orange and red) and inject these colors into your office space, whether is a cool orange stapler, pencil cup and orange and red lacquered boxes, to binders, magazine holders.  This will make your office fresh, invigorating and inspirational. “

Keep the theme! Again not focused on re-painting all the walls but rather injecting your tools and supplies with the color theme.

Who Needs Furniture?

Don’t waste the money on office furniture. Again the more important factor in the office will be creating that innovative and loose environment rather then creating that 5star hotel feel. Again Lucas from says

“Besides the stark green rug and white desks in our office, the first thing you’ll notice are our huge brown bean bags near the white-board wall. When the desk is too boring to sit on, we’ll toss ourselves onto the bean bags, grab a marker and start jotting ideas down.”

Take a look at Google

Necessity would be a desk and a chair. Then toss a few beanbag chairs around the office. Forget the couches and big fancy chairs. That money will be well served elsewhere.

Inspirational Walls:

There is a scene in HBO’s Entourage a couple seasons ago that shows this power. The main character (Vince) walks into James Cameron’s office to tell him he doesn’t want to do a movie. When Cameron comes and gets him from the waiting room he walks him down the hall to his office. The hallway is covered with the posters from Cameron’s movies (Terminator, Alien, Titanic and many more legendary films). By the time Vince reaches his office he has changed his mind and wants to do the movie after realizing who he was working with.

Now as a Young CEO you may not have the same track record but there will still be things to note. Cherish every piece of press or praise. Get cheap frames and hang those articles around the office where people are praising and discussing the company. Highlight clients if they are worthy. Cover doors and boards in inspirational quotes. Print your mission statement out and make it noticeable in all the offices.

Encourage employees to get posters or pictures of their dream locations, cars, houses etc. Get them to hang it on their walls or on the office walls. Everywhere you look in your office there should be something to catch your eye and inspire you to hustle!

Sarah Schupp from has a great idea:

“My favorite piece of office decoration is a map. It helps our young team visualize where we are now, and where we’re planning to expand! They’re inexpensive and colorful – great for young entrepreneurs!”

Maps are plentiful and cheap. Stir up some motivation by seeing where you have traveled and the places you still need to get to. Staring at that island in the Mediterranean will surely get motivated to make it happen!

Time for Work:

Whiteboards everywhere! Simple as that. Whiteboards are great for brainstorm sessions and even just to jot notes down all day long. Here is a great resource on getting a 4′x8′ whiteboard for $15! How to Turn Your Wall Into a Dry Erase Board for $15

Go wireless. Get all wireless keyboards, mice, and printers. Or even better Brandon Mendelson from Soap Box Included says

“In terms of office, we have a just laptop policy since the company has always been dispersed across New York State in terms of employee and volunteer location. It’s important to save money and invest it on the important parts of your company. Office furniture? Not so much.”

Use that money you didn’t waste on fancy office furniture and make sure everyone in the office has a laptop! It’s a huge (but valuable) investment. Being mobile in the office is so great. Give everyone the chance to gather around the whiteboard or in bean bag chairs with their laptops fired up. This also lets you take the crew out around town. Hold a meeting somewhere else just to change things up for a day without worrying about someone not having a computer to work on.

Now everyone has laptops so who the hell needs paper?! Well almost. We live in what can be pretty damn close to a paper-less world but not quite yet. Get some file organizers for all your employees. None of us like it but paper will be around and needed in your business for a long time. Make sure everyone get it organized, it will only help your business! Remember to match the color theme!!!

Happy, Healthy and Fun:

- Snacks is a must! Have chips, fruit, nuts, crackers etc. Anything cheap and simple but will keep everyone energized all day long.

- French press: Do it right because coffee is the primary drink for many entrepreneurs.

- Wii: If you have one bring it from home for everyone to enjoy. Great for lunch breaks or just when everyone is getting stressed.

- Ipod Dock: Everyone wants music in the office. Bust out the techno, the whiteboard, the coffee and build your million dollar idea.

- Plants: Great for the atmosphere. Get a couple for the office. Live ones please.

- Change of clothes: Lauren Perkins from says:

“Nothing is worse than sitting all day in an uncomfortable suit that you only wore for a client meeting that gets canceled; except when a client “drops by” on casual Friday.  That’s why I always keep a change of clothes and shoes handy so I can dress up (or down) at a moment’s notice.”

- Bike + Lock: Matt Warholic says:

“I do a lot of zipping around town on the bike – to and from work, to the gym, lunch, in town meetings – saves on parking, much faster, healthier; don’t know what I would do without the bike! Sometime during a cloudy moment it’s great to get a quick pump in on the bike to get the blood flowing and clear my head. Early morning, lunch, late afternoon — all good times) We keep several bikes in the office for employees.”

Remember to keep it all simple in the end. You want that environment that reflects your companies personality. Don’t forget your company might not have huge reputation and the office your potential employees will be working in will be a big factor in their decision to work for you. Think of them and what will get them looking forward to Monday’s.

Avi Karnani from summed up the young CEO’s office the best:

  • Flexible work environment (work here work anywhere)
  • A better more creative atmosphere (work on the couch, work at your desk, work at a beanbag)
  • Food (treats like candy, really good coffee, etc)
  • People (younger (but doesn’t need to be), happier, more creative)
  • The work content and company ethos (we’re doing something brand new, gonna change the world, shake things up)

As a young entrepreneur you have to deliver all of those things to make it worthwhile for people to trade things like stability, salary and company reputation to join you.


Written by Jared O’Toole. Co-Founder Under30CEO. Find him on twitter @JaredOToole

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  • MattWilsontv

    I want PS3, flatscreens, a basketball hoop, and a zipline in my office. Maybe steal some tricks from Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory.

  • Jared O'Toole

    Ok so I forgot the flatscreens –need them for the Wii. What else does everyone want in their office???

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  • BradleyWill

    A beach!

  • MattWilsontv

    A view

  • dianawright

    Something to keep my eye on the prize such as a framed version of what my goal is.
    Oh, and a wine nook for late nights on the job.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey DW, that reminds me to print out my 15 in 15 list. It's a good exercise to figure out what you want, then an even better one to keep focused on it.

  • Jared O'Toole

    Yes love the wine nook idea. Or at least some type of beer fridge. Never know when you might have to celebrate something!

  • Hameedullah Khan

    It surely gonna help me when I will build my office in coming days.

  • MattWilsontv

    Haha, the wine nook, we could have used that last night in our round of categories.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hameedullah, let us know how it goes. What's it going to be like?

  • MattWilsontv

    Haha, the wine nook, we could have used that last night in our round of categories.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hameedullah, let us know how it goes. What's it going to be like?

  • Jessica Mariko

    Great ideas! I'm always thinking about this and you put several great ideas in one place. Love it!

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  • Jared O'Toole

    glad to hear it! an office should be all about having fun to. Getting creative with the design helps a ton in the end when you have to spend your days there!

  • VivianChen

    Google truly has the right ideas on its work environment and its policies for innovation. I wish the rest of the Fortune 100 can finally wake up and emphasize the importance of innovation and promote a creative environment for everyone who works there.

  • MattWilsontv

    Vivian, I think Google has the mentality of a startup because they are such a young company–something that every Under30CEO dreams of building. I'd really like to know how they kept their mentality and culture of innovation as they grew at such a rapid pace.

  • vivianchen

    Yes, you're right. It's a young company founded with great minds: Sergei Brin and Larry Page. I think the young and creative mentality of the people at the top are very important in affecting the overall structure of the organization. They think young, therefore they move forward and are more able to adapt to new challenges. I think they understand and value the importance of setting aside time for innovation. In a lot of my classes, I learned that Google allows its employees to use 15% of their time to work on projects of their interest. For example in a 40-hour work week, that would be six hours.

    Another top brand to keep in mind would be Apple. For the non-entrepreneurial types, many would say that their ultimate career goal is to work at Apple. Steve Jobs did not get to where he is today because he followed the others up the traditional corporate ladder. He is an entrepreneurial pirate himself.

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  • amylynnkeimach

    Really happy that I found this article even if its been a while. I'm in the process of moving offices and I love the advice given here. Hopefully I'll get to create the perfect work environment =)

  • AmyLynn

    Really happy that I found this article even if its been a while. I'm in the process of moving offices and I love the advice given here. Hopefully I'll get to create the perfect work environment =)