A major milestone in any small business operation occurs when the time comes to move from your home office into a separate building. Leasing your first “official” workspace means you've achieved a level of success that enables you to increase operations without suffering a loss of income.
However, selecting the right location impacts the future success of your company significantly. What should you look for when leasing your first office space and what should you avoid? Here are some tips.
Evaluate Your Needs
Before contacting any prospective leasing agents, sit down and evaluate what you need. Will you be meeting with potential clients? If so, you'll need a meeting place that doesn't scream you're struggling. A workspace with a successful image builds confidence, while working out of a building with glaring health code violations gives potential clients and employees the impression of an organization headed nowhere fast.
Consider your staffing needs. Those in personal service industries, such as attorneys and accountants, generally require reception desks at a minimum to greet potential new clients. Those in building and trade industries need space not only for contractors to convene, but also ample storage space for tools and other equipment. While not every employee in such industries requires a desk of their own, they nevertheless need a base of operation.
Are you looking for space to expand your company? If so, seek locations with room to grow. However, bear in mind that selecting a space surrounded by for-lease signs may indicate overinflated rents or an economic downturn in the area.
Location, Location, Location
Real estate agents use this catchphrase for a reason. Where you choose to locate your office determines the kind of traffic your business will attract. Capturing foot traffic may matter greatly for those running retail operations. Spots near freeway exits will draw many one-time visitors as they pass through, while locations more central to the community served draw repeat business and establish your brand as a leader.
Does your company already have employees on the books? If so, seek locations central to the majority of your staff. While buildings on the outskirts of urban areas tend to offer lower rent price points, long commutes can make your top talent start seeking work elsewhere. Keeping the needs of those you depend upon daily in mind helps build employee loyalty.
That said, not every startup needs a downtown suite in a showy high rise. Amenities like glass elevators that grant riders a stunning view of the city wow visitors, but choosing a location priced too high for the company budget to support leads to undue financial stress.
Ideas That Won't Break the Bank
Fortunately, options exist that can help you design the perfect office location without spending a small fortune. One innovative idea sweeping many cities is the trend of shared office space. Co-working suites eliminate the need to pay extra for all the bells and whistles when all you may need is a conference room in which to occasionally meet with clients. These arrangements also allow the opportunity to connect with other industry professionals, which is something home office workers often struggle to do successfully.
Negotiate lower rent prices by offering to lease your space for a longer length of time. Most landlords prefer the stability of knowing they have a guaranteed income from their property and remain open to such negotiations.
Be realistic with size requirements. You want room to grow, but you don't need to have the majority of your budget devoured by pricey rent.
Read the fine print before signing any commercial lease. Admitting you're in over your head is a sign of good business acumen, so don't hesitate to reach out to a broker or real estate attorney for advice before signing on the dotted line.
The Office of Your Dreams
Leasing your first commercial office space means you've achieved sufficient success to expand, so celebrate taking this step. Make sure your organization continues to enjoy a solid revenue stream by exercising caution and common sense when finding the perfect new place to hang out your shingle.