Startup owners can make sure they choose the most suitable new home for their business by asking the right questions, and following a few simple steps, writes commercial director at BizSpace, Emma Long.
Finding new business premises can be a daunting task. There are numerous things to think about in choosing the right location, then there is the building itself – its facilities, costs and the type of rental agreement on offer.
But, by asking yourself the right questions and following a few simple guidelines, you can make sure you choose the most suitable new home for your business.
Location, location, location
Choosing the right business premises involves many factors. Good connections and easy commuting options will help ensure skilled staff are attracted and retained, while quick access for customers and visitors might also be an important issue.
For some enterprises, being part of a business cluster, with your suppliers close-by, may dictate location. Consulting widely with employees and considering the needs of customers and suppliers well in advance of committing to a space will make it more likely that the best choice is made.
Once a shortlist of ideal locations has been compiled then the type of space and its facilities and costs can be considered.
During the staff consultation process, it also saves time to draw up a list of facilities that your business requires, ranking them in terms of priority.
For example, for some workers, having a staffed reception area, car parking and – with the growing popularity of cycling – secure cycle storage, might be important, while for others, a workshop with a three-phase power supply might feature higher up on the list.
What sort of space?
A variety of flexible workspace options is available, able to accommodate very short-term requirements as well as those looking to rent an entire building on a medium to long-term basis.
Licences are available to provide businesses with a couple of desks in a co-working environment, an entire floor or building, as well as workshops, studios and even storage pods.
Many business owners find it difficult to predict what type of space they will need in six months’ time, making traditional leases, which require a business to commit to three, five or even ten years, unattractive.
To avoid this issue, flexible workspace providers can offer business premises with the option of paying a monthly fee inclusive of running costs, which can include heating, lighting and additional services, such as a staffed reception and WiFi.
A popular option and a step-up from working from home for many startups comprising one or two entrepreneurs is co-working, which offers small businesses the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals.
In addition to the flexibility that these types of business premises provide, customers are also attracted to their hassle-free environments.
Issues such as utility cost administration, fitting-out and repairs and maintenance are handled by dedicated building managers, leaving the startups and small businesses to focus on launching and developing their business, making their day-to-day life as simple as possible.
Serviced offices are rented out with a simple and generally more flexible licencing agreement, while businesses taking traditional office space will be required to sign a lease.
Leases can be complicated and should set out in detail tenant and landlord obligations. First, will be a commitment to lease length, which is typically three or more years. It might be possible to negotiate a break clause, where the tenant can relinquish the lease after a given period, such as six months, without financial penalty.
However, care is needed in exercising lease breaks, as there can be legal pitfalls. Other issues to examine in leases include dilapidations – where the tenant has to return the property to its original condition on vacating a property, and tenant-landlord maintenance and repair obligations.
In short, before signing any lease it’s best to get legal advice from a specialist lawyer or surveyor acting on your behalf.
For any agreement, whether a lease or licence, it’s essential to be clear on additional costs and to ask questions first, such as who is billed and how these are apportioned.
There is no replacement for inspecting the potential premises and walking around the area to make sure it is the right fit for your business. First impressions count.
Make sure you come to an inspection armed with a list of questions to ask, be they anything from whether parking is a hassle, what the reception area is like, how guests are handled and who the other current and potential customers are.
Furthermore, make sure if you need support you have the rapport and trust with the partner you choose.
When it comes to finding the right premises, planning well in advance of when the move needs to take place is the best policy to ensure success.
Emma Long is the commercial director at flexible working network, BizSpace
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