By Richard Morris, CEO at Evans Easyspace
You’ve successfully launched your own small business, but now your venture is beginning to grow and you need to make the leap from bedroom entrepreneur to a professional set-up. This transition can be daunting; where should you look for the right space? How can you factor in future growth? And, crucially, how can you minimise the cost? Here is some advice on finding your first small warehouse/industrial unit; balancing location, size and budget.
Location, Location, Location
The location of your new site is key. Don’t assume that you need to be in the centre of a big town or city, where space is likely to be more expensive. Expanding your search area could mean you get a lot more square foot for your money.
You also need to consider commuting arrangements, both for yourself and for any staff you might have, in terms of time and cost. Similarly, if you’re expecting the host customers at your premises, be sure to check out the local transport links.
Your site is a reflection of your company, so imagine what impression it will give those that visit. A professional look will show that you mean business.
Plan for the future, but be prepared for change
The size of the space you’ll need can be tricky to estimate and really depends on your type of business. A good general benchmark is to allow 80-100 sq ft per person, but of course there are many other variable factors, such as the amount of furniture and equipment you might have.
It’s also important to think about your long term plans. The space you are choosing might fit what you want now, but will it fit you in 6 months? Consider sites that also offer storage facilities which could hide away equipment and filing, and that could offer room to expand should you need it.
At the same time as planning for the future, you also need to be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. In 2014 the average new property lease length for shops and offices rose to 6.8 years. How can you possible predict where your company will be in six years’ time?
The truth is, you can’t. So, don’t feel that you have to follow the trend and commit to a traditional, long term lease. There are providers that offer shorter leases and notice periods of as little as two months.
When searching for your first business premises, it’s not simply the cost of the rental that you need to consider. Many sites unfortunately come with hidden extra expenses, like parking, rates and service charges.
This is a handy checklist of services that you need to consider and often come as added extras: fit out, furniture, telecommunications, IT infrastructure, bandwidth charges, services charges, rates, maintenance, repairs and utilities.
Many small businesses find all-inclusive packages easier to handle. A fixed monthly cost with everything included makes financial planning far easier. Some companies will also allow you to pick and choose which extras you include in your package, meaning that you only pay for what you need.
There’s no doubt that embarking on finding your first professional premises is a difficult task and there’s a lot to consider. Location, cost, size of space and length of contract will all be high on the list, and there are many variable factors that will influence these decisions. It’s important to think about what’s right for your business, which has its own unique requirements. The key is to ensure that you’re prepared — as far as you can be — for the ebbs and flows that come with being a small business. Remaining nimble and dynamic will enable you to face challenges and embrace growth.