Whether your business is expanding, just starting out or ready to move from home, finding and leasing the right office space can play an important role in your future success. Maybe your home-based business is going gangbusters, but that only means that the need to expand your space is nearly unavoidable.
Getting into a new or expanded office is a serious move, and there are some basic steps to take to avoid getting burned:
- Don't just look at square footage and sign.
- Is there parking? At what cost?
- Who handles utilities? Repairs?
- Will the space need changes or renovations before you move in? Who pays for that?
Get the right amount of space for your business now — and the in the futureIt can seem elementary, but calculating the space you will need is a crucial first step. Businesses grow, so if you have hired on lots of new help in the last six months, consider carefully if that trend is likely to continue, slow or speed up.
Hire a pro if you can afford itUnless your company is tiny and cash- or credit-poor, the easiest solution by far is to work with a competent commercial real estate agent in the area you expect to lease (after all, you have customers to handle, right?). The agent will have a good idea of what is available and whether or not it will really fit your needs.
Find your office space on the WebMuch like airline tickets and residential real estate, there are plenty of local agents who list on free databases. This can be a good way to get a sense of what's available in your market before hiring an agent.
Consider leasing part-time or sublettingBig companies in your town might have fallow footage to spare. Business incubators often have openings, and some companies specialize in providing fully-furnished short-term or even "virtual" short-term office space for client meetings.
Read every word of your lease, with your lawyer presentCommercial leases are highly detailed and include all kinds of clauses to protect — you guessed it — the property owner. If your business flops, you could still be on the hook for rent.
- Give yourself time to turn down initial offers. Hungry landlords will drop their price if times are hard and clients few.
- A so-called "all-inclusive" office might seem too pricey, but consider what they offer: furniture, phones, copiers, kitchen appliances, all ready to go. If your business is taking off but you're in a shaky industry, owning a floorful of office gear might not seem so brilliant in 18 months.
- It's very hard to overstate the value of an experienced real-estate lawyer. Don't skimp on this one.