Getting the right office space can be a real headache – not only do you have to consider the type of property you need, you need to consider its size, location and accessibility for staff and customers. So, whether you’re a designer looking to move out of the spare room, or a firm of solicitors eyeing up a second office, here are five key questions you need to ask yourself when looking for a new business property…
1. What size office do I need?
Size is the first thing to consider – choose an office that’s too small and you could quickly outgrow it, meaning you’ll be on the move again; too big and you could be paying over the odds for a space you’re not fully utilising.
So try not to overstretch yourself, particularly if this is your first business premises, and bear in mind that in the early days it’s probably a good idea to set up in a smaller, more affordable unit and then upgrade it once you’re more established.
2. What type of office do I need?
The type of office you need will be determined by the type of business you run, so while a small digital agency may need nothing more than room for a few laptops, a retail operation will need storage space and a shop front.
If you’re a local accountant or consultant that needs to meet with clients, you’ll probably be looking at a property that has the capacity for a meeting room, but if these get-togethers are infrequent, it could be worth holding them at the client’s office, a neutral venue, or even over video conference.
Keep an open mind for some alternative solutions, such as keeping surplus stock or paperwork at home or in a self-storage unit, and co-working in a shared office space with other professionals.
3. Where is my ideal location?
The location is another important consideration, and possibly the most important one of all, so think about what your business needs and prioritise a list of requirements.
If you’re in retail you may need a high traffic area with substantial footfall, but if you don’t need a presence on the high-street you can cut costs by taking a space away from the town centre. And if you regularly have goods delivered, ease-of-access will be another consideration.
If you regularly host clients, you’ll need an office that is easy to find and has good transport links – the last thing you want is to lose business because no-one can find where you’re based.
Then there’s the question of perception, so consider how the location will affect your business image, what your customers and clients will think when they visit, and also take the neighbouring businesses into account.
4. What’s my budget?
Although many aspire to have a swanky office in a trendy part of town, there’s usually a huge premium on this type of set up, so make sure you set yourself a realistic budget and then set your expectations accordingly. Bear in mind however, that you can get a city centre office address and work from home with a virtual office. If you’re route to market is predominantly online, and you don’t need storage space, this can be a fantastic option, especially for business start-ups.
You should already have gotten a good idea of costs when putting together your initial business plan, and choosing the right premises can be a savvy way to cut some of your overheads – so look out for rental contracts that include things like business rates, utility bills and cleaning as part of the package.
What type of rental agreement do I need?
When looking for a business property, there are two main types of legal agreement you’ll come across, they are:
- Lease agreement – These are the most common type of arrangement, and usually require a relatively long-term tenancy agreement.
The main benefit of this is that it gives you an agreed rental amount over the long-term, and offers more security, particularly as you have the right to renew at the end of the agreement.
- Licence agreements – These are usually more flexible than leases that are quick to sort out and incur few, if any, legal fees.
The flexibility of these contracts means they’re often better suited to small, expanding firms whose needs can quickly change, but while this means you can leave the premises at short notice, it also means your landlord can serve you notice on the same terms.
Tenancy contracts can be a real nightmare, so it’s always worth seeking professional advice from solicitors before signing on the dotted line.
And bear in mind that, in spite of all this money-saving advice, your place of work is where you’ll spend most of your waking hours, so don’t just look for the cheapest property on the market, choose a place that can inspire you, your staff and your clients.
Are you looking to relocate? Let us know what kind of things you’d consider before moving into a new office space!