Few things are as exciting or stressful as choosing office space for your business. The space you choose says a lot about your business and is the place where you’ll be spending the majority of your waking hours. You must carefully consider a number of factors before making an offer or signing a lease.
An office’s physical location is obviously one of the first things you have to consider. The location of your business impacts everything from profitability to safety, and a failure to realize this can significantly hamper your company’s future growth and success.
The first thing you have to think about is the big picture. Which city or state is your business going to be located in? Have you considered relocating to a more business-friendly location? For example, some businesses are leaving highly congested areas in the Northeast. These trends are cyclical, but don’t ignore the possibility of an interstate move.
Looking at location on a micro level, you also want to consider the safety of the neighborhood and whether the area is trending in the right direction. It often makes sense to choose an office space in an improving area, but do your research and make sure it’s actually on the rise. Real estate agents may try to sell you on this idea, regardless of whether it’s the truth.
2. Transportation and Accessibility
If you’re in an urban area, you definitely want to think about transportation and accessibility. Is the office located near popular public transit lines? Is there adequate parking? Will traffic play a role in allowing clients to easily drop in? These are not insignificant questions, they’re practical things you’ll have to deal with on a daily basis.
3. Brand Image and Visibility
“Think about the signal you want to send when you pick your location,” writes Lisa Girard of Entrepreneur.com. “Your office space will be much more than a collection of cubicles; it also will be a sign to others of how much money you’re making.” This can go both ways, though.
If your office isn’t nice enough, your clients and customers may assume you’re in financial trouble. This can negatively impact your trust with these accounts and may spell trouble. On the other hand, if your office is too nice, clients may feel like they’re overpaying for your services. It’s best to present a strong image without being overly flashy.
4. Layout and Amenities
The layout of an office is obviously very important. When sorting through your options, you’ll likely find that there are significant price differences between open and partitioned office spaces. If you’re looking for an economical choice, an open layout may be ideal. These spaces typically require fewer furnishings and don’t require you to pay for amenities that won’t be used.
On the other hand, many companies require portioned office spaces with individual offices, conference rooms, and break rooms. You’ll likely pay more for this privacy, but it’s often worth it to companies that require layouts more conducive to productivity.
If you like a space but aren’t quite sure you like the current layout, there may be opportunities to adjust or tweak the setup (even if you’re leasing). However, you’ll want to get a definitive answer on that before moving too far along in the process.
5. Room to Expand
One of the biggest challenges business owners have is picturing what their companies will look like in three to five years and planning ahead to meet those demands. This is particularly challenging when it comes to selecting office space. You never want to pay for more office than you need, but it also doesn’t make sense to move every couple of years.
The best solution to this problem is to rent office space that gives you room to expand. In other words, look for offices that have additional space and discuss options for subletting. This would allow you to rent as much space as you need without paying for the extra square footage. Then, when the time comes, you can easily expand.
The One Question SBOs Forget to Ask
There’s a lot that goes into choosing office space. It’s easy to get so caught up in the specific factors that you forget about the biggest question of all:
Can we afford this office space?
This question isn’t necessarily asking whether you can write the monthly rent or mortgage check. It’s asking can you really afford the space? Will it put constraints on your budget? How will it impact your cash flow? The best office in the world isn’t worth financially crippling your business.
Putting it All Together
Selecting your business’ office space is a big deal. You’ll be spending hundreds of hours in this building each and every month. If you aren’t comfortable with it now, you certainly won’t be in a few months’ time. Keep the five factors mentioned in this article in mind and you’ll surely make a smart choice.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B000AP04L0]