To recap on “the search” for office space we have summarized the previous posts and put together a step by step guide for the small business owners searching for office space.
1. Create a Budget. There is no hard and fast rule for how much your rental payments should be as a percentage of revenue, but there are some good tools to help determine what you can afford. I do recommend using conservative monthly revenue and expense forecasts to determine what you can spend on rent. See our post on budget to learn more.
2. Determine your needs. Knowing approximately how much square footage your business requires is a good thing, but sometimes an efficient floor plan can cut this number down significantly. When looking for space it is more important to know how many office’s you will need, how many cubicles you have, large/small conference room, restrooms, etc. This allows the leasing representative to really get a good understanding of what you need in your space. If you have an existing floor plan of your current office this could be a great way to communicate what works and what doesn’t with a new landlord.
3.Choose an area. Things to consider would be; being close to existing customers, a short commute for you and your employees, visibility and easy access for new customers. To learn more about how location can impact your search see our post on class.
4.Find available space. Start on the internet. Trade websites like loopnet.com or costar.com and craigslist.org can save you a lot of time. You can also just use search engines and search for “office space for lease in ________”. If you do not find anything then get into your car and drive around the area you would like to be and look for leasing signs.
5. Tour spaces. Now that you are ready to see some spaces, make sure you request to see the floor plans and know the lease rates prior to setting up a tour. Pricing and floor plans can make or break a deal right out of the gate, if something is way out of your budget or the floor plan isn’t going to work don’t waste your time with a tour.
6. Narrow your possibilities. Use a lease comparison sheet to help you compare locations easily. Organize information into a “best fit” model. Make a list of your must haves in one column and list possible properties in the next few columns to see how they stack up.
7. Request a lease. Discuss the terms before requesting a lease and make sure the landlord spells out each party’s obligation prior to signing the lease agreement. Leases are written by the developer and/or their lawyers so most are tilted slightly in their favor. If some things seem unfair do not hesitate to have a lawyer review or ask for clarification from the landlord.
Now that we have hopefully covered all aspects of the search for office space, our next posts will focus on evaluating and deciding which spaces, landlords, leases, terms and pricing models are right for your business.