If your company is new and fast-growing, think twice before buying office furniture. It might make more sense to rent what you need until the dust settles.

Bioferm Central Inc., a $200,000 a year marketer of waste recycling technology in Northbrook, Ill., expected its operations to expand after its first office opened in 1982. Rather than purchasing furniture that might later be superfluous, the company rented. For $360 a month, it got four desks, four chairs, four credenzas, a coffee table, two side tables, and a lamp -- furniture that would have retailed for about $8,800. Opting to rent proved prescient. About a year later, the company moved its employees to other locations and returned most of the furniture. Now the office rents only a desk, a credenza, three side chairs, and an armchair, all for about $100 a month.

"Renting is wise if you're a start-up company and unsure of where the future will take you," says Harry Tully, Bioferm's vice-president of finance.