(Originally published in the Oct. 2011 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal - Small Business Week feature)
If your business is starting to take up more room than your home office has to give, it’s time to think about moving your business out of your house.
Taking the leap and leasing a commercial office space can be a frightening prospect, but if you ask the right questions and take the time to do your research, you’ll avoid the common pitfalls.
Consider the following when choosing a leasing space that’s right for your business:
• What are your needs? Before you start your search, spend some time thinking about what you need in an office space. Don’t just consider how many employees you currently have; seriously consider your company’s growth and estimate how many employees you’ll gain over the course of a lease. The general rule for allotting space is 175 to 250 square feet of usable area per person. Also consider the common areas such as break rooms, reception area, and conference rooms you and your employees will need.
• Get professional help. Finding the right commercial office space isn’t as easy as finding residential property. Chances are you’ll need a reputable realtor to navigate you through the process of finding that perfect office space.
• Location, location, location. The perfect location can often depend on what kind of business you run. If you regularly expect clients in your office you’ll need a convenient, safe, location. Also, where is the competition located?
• Consider safety and accessibility (parking, public transportation) as well as the condition of the building and the neighborhood. Will your employees be able to easily get to work?
• Go ahead, kick the tires. Take a long hard look at the office space and assess the condition of the building. Office space is typically broken down into three categories, Class A, B, and C dependent on the location, age, condition, and amenities with Class A being considered the highest quality. Ask the landlord about recent improvements and upgrades as well as the condition of the AC and heating units. Discuss with your landlord how much remodeling needs to be done to the office space and determine who will foot the bill. You’ll need to consider the basics such as new carpet, fixtures, and fresh paint as well as major interior renovations such as constructing new walls.
• Review the lease carefully. It’s time to get out the glasses because you need to make sure you read all of the fine print of your lease. If you need help deciphering the legalese of your lease, an attorney who specializes in lease agreements can help negotiate the terms. Don’t be shy about negotiating. This is a major investment and a big step for your company and you don’t want to get locked into a bad deal.
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