You might be a tiny start-up or a more established business that needs to move to a bigger, better place. Whatever your reasons for upping sticks, there’s four things you have to consider before choosing the right dotted line for you and your enterprise.
Of course, this depends a lot on the nature of your business. If you’re an interior design company, you’ll need a big window with lots of footfall so passers-by can see what you’re all about. If you’re an IT-based company then you might be better off in one of the many offices to let in Teddington or nearby.
You already know that business premises get more expensive the nearer to the city centre they are. However, this doesn’t mean that you should settle for a cheap out-of-town place because the lack of passers-by might kill you off. You also, no matter what your business, need room for customer and employee parking and delivery vehicles.
It’s fine to ask around for advice – solicitors, your business advisor, your associates – but you shouldn’t feel pushed into anything. Your location is, alongside your finances, the biggest consideration, so don’t just jump in.
If your ideal location is way out of your budget then you’ll just have to carry on dreaming. Avoid wasting too much time on the “if onlys” by restricting your search to your budget. Your first big decision is whether to rent or buy. These days, rental options are brilliant because there’s a culture of shared office spaces which are brilliant for techy start-ups.
If you’re having to rent a large unit, though, and you’re not planning to move for a good few years, then think about buying premises. Once you’ve pinned this fundamental decision down, look at what your business rates will be, as well as all your utilities, insurance, taxes, maintenance and security costs.
It’s unlikely that you’ll walk straight into your premises and not have to change a thing. Most of your changes will be cosmetic, probably – don’t go mad making big changes of any kind to start with, as this is a big drain on money. Just make sure that the outside looks presentable and inviting, as well as any interior areas that customers see. You don’t want to deter clients.
Space is also important. Have you got enough room for your immediate growth plans? Can you afford to have a waiting room or reception area? These things matter to clients and suppliers alike – they need to have confidence in you.
Your legal considerations
You also have some legal things to consider. There are several different types of commercial licences and not all premises have the same ones, so make sure your shortlisted premises have all the paperwork you need.
It’s also important that your building is fully compliant with all the legal regulations, like ventilation, fire, space, hygiene and heating.
Lastly, you need to make sure the infrastructure around your place is sufficient. If you’re a manufacturer, is there space to store waste until it’s disposed of? Can your delivery drivers make collections and drop-offs all day or are there time restrictions?
There’s a lot to think about, so talking to a commercial letting agency is always a good idea.