Things to Keep in Mind when Hunting for Your First Office

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Image credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0e/City.hall.london.arp.jpg

Many start-ups have begun their stories in the garages/basements of their founders. It makes sense to work from home in the early stages, when you are still learning to stand on your own two feet. But if you have moved to a stage where your business is looking good for now and you’ve got a good team onboard, you may well be considering moving to a proper commercial property to give your business the professional look it needs. It will be a big step and you’ll have to bear in mind more than a few things to find that perfect office for you. Following are some considerations that will prove helpful in this mission of yours.

Need to Start Early

Real estate is a fast moving space. You can also not quite predict which way the rates will go. A lot depends on your luck in this market but there are also things you can do to make life slightly easy for yourself.

So as to avoid getting trapped in a seller’s market, and not having a choice when you go looking for property, start your hunt for an office sufficiently early. Give yourself at least six months to zero in on the right property and allow for negotiation delays. If a deal gets struck earlier than that, good for you! If not, you will be mentally prepared for a longer ride.

Zero In on the Right Location

Every business owner wants their office to be situated in the prime location of their city. It sounds cool and is easy to find. But prime locations are expensive, and cost is a factor with every business, much more so when you are still a new business.

If you know somebody who can pull off a coup and get you a commercial property in the best location in your city, you may just be the luckiest person on the planet!

If, however, you’re like most of us, you can forget all about premium real estate at this stage.

Instead choose the third best option; chances are second best, too, would be beyond your budget (but if it isn’t, more power to you!). Whatever you do, don’t go for the cheapest locality because you don’t want to come across as, well, cheap. Besides, if good office spaces are selling for cheap somewhere you know something isn’t right.

The location of your new office should be respectful, easily accessible for you, your staff and clients (meaning train and bus stops should be within walking distance), and be affordable as well.

Be Clear about What You Want

What is the purpose of your office? Is it going to be for back-end functions or a proper customer facing one?

The interior of your office will depend on the purpose the space is meant to serve.

If you are going to be seeing clients on a regular basis, you need to think of a good reception area where clients can wait. If your company is artistically inclined/selling creative services, you need the décor of your office to reflect that.

Where will the washroom be located? Would you need a pantry or dining space? Have the properties you have chosen enough of this space? Choose a property that you can customise to your needs without sweating much.

Anticipating Your Staffing Capacity a Year from Now

This is difficult because anticipating your office needs a year from now can be akin to staring into the space.

If you have a team of ten now, and are looking to hire 15 more people, you are going to need a small- to medium-sized office. However, if you expect to grow rapidly and take your staff count to 40 in a year, you are going to need a slightly bigger office.

Which is why it’s very important for you to be clear about your ambitions and growth prospects. If you buy a bigger office and don’t grow accordingly you will have to pay more rent for space you aren’t even using, and that amounts to a solid waste of money.

On the other hand if you err on the conservative side and buy a small space and grow beyond expectations you will have to hunt for another office, which is time consuming and even more expensive.

What to do then?

We recommend that you buy a space that can house 20%-30% more staff than you’d expect to have a year from now.

If you don’t hire those numbers in the next 24 months, you won’t be paying a lot more in terms of rent (and can always find good use for the extra space). If you hire a lot more than those numbers, well, that would be very good news and a business that is doing so well can certainly afford a new office!

Where to Look

Most people start with brokers/real estate agents when they want to buy or sell property. That is the traditional way of doing things and as we all know old traditions die hard.

There are positives to hiring a broker, yes. Especially useful if you are pressed for time. Any real estate agent worth their salt will have an impressive network in place and know of places that will fit your budget as well as needs. However, they will very likely charge a good commission for their services, too.

If you don’t want to spend money on paying out a hefty commission, you do have the option of taking matters in your own hands. This involves getting online, placing an advert for your requirements, and letting the right people come to you. There are a number of credible websites in this country that let you do this.

Buying property online is gaining widespread acceptance. In any case, you have nothing to lose so we recommend you try it out. At the very least it will give you a good idea about the prevalent rates for the size and type of property you have in mind.

 

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Saturday, 17 November 2018
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