Renting office space has some clear advantages from a business point of view. It looks more professional to give out an address that isn’t your home or a PO Box, and it allows you to keep your home and work life completely separate. From an SEO point of view (and let’s face it, EVERYTHING is about SEO these days!), having a physical business address will help you place favorably on SERP’s, as your business will show up on local search results and Google maps.
Different businesses have different reasons for renting office space. Perhaps you have outgrown your home office or simply don’t want to work from home (maybe you have small children or live in a studio apartment?).
Or perhaps your new business requires a commercial space in a particular area, or you need a space that has ample storage for stock? Whatever the reason, renting your first office space requires careful planning and research to ensure you are within your budget, in a suitable location and have enough room for potential growth.
Here are some things to consider;
Budget is the foremost consideration when you are committing to renting an office space. Work out your budget before you start looking. There is no point in renting a space that will cripple you in a few months, no matter how nice it is. It is crucial not to overstretch yourself.
Leasing an office space is something that you have not had to factor into your business plan until now, so making the numbers work for you before you start looking for a suitable space is essential. You also need to factor in the extra costs of renting, such as maintenance costs, service charges and insurance. Find out what is included in your rent before you make a firm decision and sign on the dotted line.
What is included?
The amenities included in your rental costs will vary depending on the style of space you are renting. Some buildings rent out dedicated office spaces to many different businesses, and these spaces may come fully furnished with fiber broadband and other amenities thrown in. At the other end of the scale, you may be looking at a space that comes with no extra’s included in the rent at all. In that case, you need to factor in installing a phone line and broadband, utility bills and furnishing your office.
It would help if you also found out who is responsible for repairs on the building and who is obliged to pay for services such as cleaning the windows. Make sure that you have budgeted for all your additional costs before you even consider signing a lease. You don’t want to end up with any unpleasant surprises a few months down the line.
Aside from your budget, the location of your office is going to be one of your primary considerations when looking for a space that suits your needs. The first thing you need to consider regarding location is whether the space you are looking at is within a reasonable distance for you and your team members to commute.
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If you do not have a team but hope to in the future, you need to consider renting in an area where you are likely to be able to recruit local talent. If there are certain places you need to visit for business purposes regularly (for example, banks or posts offices), that needs to factor in your decision-making as well. You may also want to consider what other local amenities there are nearby, for example, coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Your team (present or future) will thank you for it!
If your business is customer-facing, you need to consider accessibility for clients and customers when looking for spaces to rent. Is it close to public transport routes and easy to find? Does it have parking close by, and is it easy to access? Are there lots of flights of stairs, or is there a lift? Is there disabled access, and if there isn’t, is there an opportunity to make it accessible?
When you see an empty office space, it is often hard to picture how that space will look once you take up residence. A space will always seem bigger without desks and storage in situ. Compile an inventory of everything you will need to put in the space and work out as accurately as you can how many square feet you will realistically need.
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You also need to consider having space enough to enable your business to grow. You don’t want to be bursting at the seams after a year and then have to move to a larger space. Do you need storage areas for stock and a separate working space? If so, how will that work and are the spaces you are looking at big enough?
How many people are in your team, and what kind of workstations do they prefer? Do you foresee your office being open-plan or more closed off? Will you need a conference room or a communal chill-out area and a kitchen? All these things should be considered carefully before committing to a lease.
It is important to remember that once you sign the lease and commit to renting an office space, you are in a legally binding contract for a specified amount of time. It is essential that you are fully aware of the lease conditions before you sign and that the length of the lease is realistic for your business and its potential growth. Are you locked in to the rental price, or could it potentially go up?
Will there be an option to renew the lease after the initial term is up, and will there be penalties if you want to break to contract sooner than intended? Make sure you check what you are allowed to do to the space before you sign on the dotted line. Are you allowed to decorate or put in your own flooring, for example?
Get professional help
Renting an office space is a costly decision, so it is vital that you engage the help of a property agent who can guide you through the process and ultimately ensure that you get the right space for you. Agents know the market and are also adept at helping you visualize how you can use the space on offer. If you want to ensure you get precisely the right space for your business, an agent is a must.
Obtaining legal advice on your lease should go hand in hand with using an agent. You would never consider buying or renting a house without legal advice, so the same should apply to your business space. Commercial property leases can cover hundreds of terms, often written in confusing language, so if you want to avoid getting caught out, make sure you get some quality legal advice before you sign on the dotted line.
Renting an office space is an exciting step for your business to take, but also one that is fraught with potential pitfalls. Don’t rush into any decisions, and make sure that you look at several properties before making a firm decision. If you plan it right, it could be the first step to taking your business to the next level!