Renting your first office space can be an exciting turning point for your business. But choosing just any office would be a mistake. You need to make sure that your office is one that will support your team and allow you to grow and thrive. Below are things to consider before renting your first office space.
Businesses used to need dedicated offices in order to survive. But plenty of entrepreneurs today do just fine working from home offices or even co-working spaces. If your business could function in one of these alternative environments, you could save yourself a lot of time and money.
If it is absolutely essential for you to have a dedicated office space, then the location is likely your most important consideration when renting your first office space. You first need to ensure that the office will be close enough for your team members to commute. Or if you don’t have a team just yet, choose an office that close enough to an area that’s populated with potential talent.
You also have to keep clients in mind when choosing a location. Is the office building you’re considering easily accessible from freeways or public transportation? Will they be able to find it easily?
Another factor when renting your first office space that could impact your location decision is the nearby amenities. Your team will likely appreciate an office that’s at least somewhat close to restaurants and coffee shops. And if there are certain places you need to visit regularly for business purposes, like meeting spaces or banks, you’ll want those to be nearby as well.
After location, cost is likely your next big concern. Don’t choose an office that is going to put your business too far into debt and stunt its growth. Crunch the numbers before you even start looking to find a budget that will allow you to operate comfortably.
There are a lot of expenses that go into renting an office space. The actual rent is just part of it, when it comes to most properties. And those extra expenses can really add up if you don’t account for them in your original budget.
Paul Miller, brokerage vice president for Office Services Group in Dayton, Ohio said in an email to Small Business Trends, “Make sure you understand what is included (and not) in the quoted rent. Does the Landlord want you to pay for your utilities? Phone and data? Snow and ice removal? Make sure it’s clear, and that it’s spelled out clearly in the Lease.”
Just knowing what’s included is one thing when renting your first office space. You need to also make sure that all of those provisions are clearly spelled out in the lease. You don’t want to just take your landlord’s word that some utilities are included only to be charged for them later since that wasn’t officially stated in your lease.
Repairs for your space can also represent a significant expense. If your landlord is responsible for those expenses, make sure they are willing to take care of them in a timely manner. But if you are, make sure there’s some wiggle room into your budget.
The process of looking for office space can be overwhelming for a newbie. But if you find a commercial real estate agent or broker who is familiar with the properties in the area, they can make the whole process a lot easier. Ask around or search on an online portal like Colliers International to find someone in your target community.
The building itself should offer some amenities as well. To keep you, your employees and your equipment safe and secure, find out if the building has a security guard, manned entry way and after-hours security.
Of course, you will need a large enough space for the members of your team to each have a desk or place to sit. But you don’t want something so large that you’re paying for entire rooms that you never use.
However, a bit of extra space can be a good thing, especially if you plan to grow within the length of your lease. Even a few extra cubicle spaces or some room to add a few desks can be helpful.
Do you want an open concept or more closed-off work spaces? Different bosses and teams have different preferences. So think about what style would suit your team best and choose an office that lends itself to your preferred layout.
Some offices don’t always come as advertised. And some might require a bit of work before you actually move your things in. If you want to know exactly what the space will look like if you actually decide to rent it, you have to ask those questions. Miller says:
“Make sure you understand how the space will be delivered. Do you require improvements like paint and carpet, or do you need walls and doors moved or added? Who will pay for these improvements?”
Parking is another important factor that might be overlooked when renting your first office space. You need to make sure there are enough parking spaces nearby so that your team can actually get to work on time without much hassle. A secure parking lot or dedicated area is a plus. Or if you’re in an area where there are more bikers, make sure there’s a rack or enough space somewhere in the building for employees to store their bikes.
Like it or not, your office sends a message to others about your business. If you choose a building that’s falling apart, that could tell clients that you’re struggling. But if you overextend your budget with a lavish space for your first office, they could think that they’re paying you too much.
Aside from just desks or cubicles, you’ll need to think about some other spaces that could be useful to your team. Do you need a dedicated conference room or a few smaller meeting rooms? Do you need a kitchen or any other specific types of spaces?
You likely want to make your first office your own. But most landlords probably don’t want you knocking down walls and completely changing their buildings. So before you sign anything, see what you’re allowed to do to the space without them charging you for damages.
The length of your lease can be another important factor in your decision when renting your first office space. For your first office, you might not want to get tied into a really long-term commitment. You don’t want to be stuck with an office space if your business folds, sells or outgrows the space.
For that reason, you really have to think about where you see your business at the end of that time period. If it’s a five-year lease, where do you see your business in five years? And do you have an actual plan to get there?
Just in case, you should know what might happen if you have to break your lease. Make sure that you’re comfortable with any fees or other penalties just in case something changes throughout the course of your lease.