By Richard Gill, MD of Landmark plc

It is one of the most important business decisions SMEs have to make at the start of their corporate existence, and also one of the hardest. Choosing the right office can have a dramatic effect on a start-up business: get it wrong and choice of location can slow down a business’s growth, or, even worse, become a huge financial drain.

There are several factors to be considered when choosing a base for your business:

Location: how important is it for you to be near clients, potential clients, business partners and other stakeholders?

How important are transport links? Do you need to be in a central, prime location?

Image: will you be visited by clients and business partners at your office? If so, does the building, and office interior project an appropriate image?

Size: how many people do you currently employ? How many people do you expect to take on if your business grows as you hope it will? What if growth doesn’t meet your expectations? Apart from workstations, do you need additional space for meeting rooms? Do you have enough staff to handle the day-to-day admin (receptionists, IT staff, etc.)

Lease length: how far ahead can you accurately project? How different do you think your requirements will be by the end of your lease?

Cost: how much are you able to spend on your office requirements?

Fit out and facilities: how much work will need to be done to make the space useable for your business? What facilities will need to be installed (phone, internet, computers, etc.)

How much time and money will need to be invested to achieve this?

Often the answers to many of the questions above highlight just how difficult it is for start-ups and SMEs to be able to make long-term predictions with any real degree of certainty. Particularly given the economic climate of the last few years, many businesses are understandably cautious about committing to long term leases.

Some businesses are able to avoid this by informal arrangements or sublets with other companies, allowing them to use a few workstations until they are able to take space of their own. Even so, this solution often leaves only limited room for growth and can lead to confusion amongst clients, partners and other stakeholders regarding a business’s independence from the company it is subletting from.

More and more start-ups, SMEs and even larger businesses are now seeing the advantages of serviced offices. Offering the possibility to hire as few as three workstations for anything from just three months and with the convenience of a plug-and-play service including internet, telephones, reception staff and IT support, serviced offices can offer an ideal solution. For start-up businesses in particular, they neatly avoid a situation where a company is paying for unused space, offering the ability to increase or decrease the number of workstations as needed. Costs are in the same region as the rents that a business would pay for a traditional long-term lease and additional meeting room space can also be booked as required.

Valbury Capital, the London based broker, took space at Royal Mint Court, a serviced office centre operated by Landmark plc in June 2011. “As a recently launched and rapidly growing company, flexibility was high on the agenda when choosing our office space,” says Mark Hanney, Chief Executive Officer of Valbury Capital. “Serviced offices mean that we can concentrate on growing the business, adding new people as and when required, without having to hard wire our space requirements and without the extra cost of paying for desks that we don’t yet need.”

For Valbury Capital, the quality of premises and associated services provided by Landmark were also a significant factor. “The centres are unbranded and decorated to a high standard, which helps create a positive impression with clients and visitors,” says Hanney. “Reception and office services are provided by Landmark, which means we don’t have to employ extra people but visitors are greeted professionally..”

Landmark plc operates five serviced office centres across the City of London: Royal Mint Court, Tower Hill, EC3; Lombard Street, Bank, EC3; Holland House, Gherkin Piazza, EC3; and Old Broad Street, Bank, EC2. In addition, Landmark recently opened a new flagship centre at Heron Tower on Bishopsgate, EC2.

Given their location in London’s Square Mile, the centres offer particularly attractive business locations for companies dealing with the financial services sector or for companies based elsewhere in the UK, or internationally, looking for a foothold in the capital. Landmark’s centres are also unbranded and decorated to the highest standard (including items from Landmark’s own collection of more than 400 original art works), helping project a professional, corporate and stylish image to a business’s clients.

Landmark’s new Heron Tower centre redefines the standards for serviced office centres, offering luxury space in the City of London’s newest and tallest iconic building.

Companies taking space there will be able to enjoy great views across London as well as some unique features such as Britain’s largest privately owned aquarium, located in Heron Tower’s lobby, double-decker high speed lifts and excellent green credentials. Through its new flagship centre, Landmark will make this stunning new development accessible to smaller companies looking for an impressive base at the heart of the Square Mile.

About The Author

For more information on Landmark’s serviced offices, including its new Heron Tower centre, please visit www.landmarkplc.com or call +44 (0)20 7491 6800.