Entrepreneurs achieve many exciting milestones as they watch their ideas turn into reality — the first sale, the first investor to contribute capital and the first positive review in a trade publication are just a few of the signposts of a successful startup.
But perhaps none is as exciting as signing the lease on your first office space. This will be your company’s home, the place where clients are nurtured, where a staff will become a team and where your vision will become a reality.
It is important that the space contributes both to your financial success and also caters to your desired office culture. Here are five features to look for when finding your first office space.
All About That Location
You might really like the aesthetic of that newly renovated artist’s loft across town, but if your business is going to depend of foot traffic, you’ll need to be in the heart of the commerce district.
If you will host client meetings at your office, you’ll need to take into account proximity to public transit and local highways. Don’t get caught up in cosmetic features when location and ease of access are what is really important for future success.
Don’t Go It All Alone
Caught up in the momentum of a successful entrepreneurial venture, you might be tempted to snatch up the first piece of real estate that meets your needs just to keep the ball rolling. Instead, start by surrounding yourself with trusted advisors, including a financial advisor and real estate attorney.
About half of commercial property realtors said they’ve had clients who are unable to obtain financing in the past year. Your advisory team can help the bank’s evaluation of your ability to repay the loan and can also explain sometimes complicated commercial lease agreements and the terms within, including rent and other responsibilities.
Don’t Budge on Your Budget
Your financial advisors and your own business acumen will inform your budget. Depending on the type of business you run, estimates for your rent-to-sales ratio can vary from about 2% to 8%.
Once you determine your budget, stick to it, no matter how enticing the property might be. You don’t want to take on unnecessary risk before you’ve even set up your new shop. And keeping other capital free will allow you to spend that money on client leads, product enhancements and salaries.
And rent isn’t the only number that comes with putting a roof over your head. There will also be furniture and equipment to buy and utilities to pay. Remember that as your business grows, you can always upgrade to a new space, so don’t budge on your budget.
Take It or Lease It
If you are having a hard time finding the perfect location for your first office space and are starting to feel pressured to settle for something less than ideal, remember short-term leases and shared office space options abound, particularly in large cities.
There are lots of sites that can help you find an office sublet. Whether you’re booking a temporary conference room for an investor’s meeting or a shared office space for your two new hires, these sites can help you find the right location that will buy you time until the perfect, more permanent solution becomes available.
Look Beyond the Cubicle
Sure, you’ll spend most of your day within the office walls, working away at world domination. But look around and outside the building as well. Is there adequate parking for employees and clients? Is the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act? Costs and challenges with taking on these exterior improvements can be prohibitive, so consider them now.
Maybe you can already picture your team around the conference table, engaged in a dynamic brainstorming session, so you’re tempted to sign on the dotted line right away. But by considering these important factors before buying your first office space, you can set yourself and your company up for long-term stability and growth.