Is Your Small Biz Ready to Leave the Nest? What You Need to Know to Make the Right Choice

imagesYour business is booming. Congratulations!  Now you’re starting to consider moving out of your home-based office to a commercial office location.  That’s a big decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Finding the right location for your small business is critical.

First, this is a good time to consider a commercial space because there is a significant amount of available inventory.  During the recession, many businesses closed their doors leaving office buildings and retail districts with availability.  That means you should be able to negotiate a reasonable price.

However, do you really need to leave the nest?  For example, do you want to hire employees to help you grow?  Before you take on additional overhead ask yourself if your team can work virtually.  I haven’t had an office since 2010.  Technology allows me to work from anywhere, and there are members of my team I’ve never met in person.

If you’ve done your homework and you’re sure a move is the next step, then make a list of what you need.  Here are a few things to consider.

 Location.  Do you need to be in an area with a considerable amount of foot traffic, or is an industrial office park acceptable?  What about convenience for your clients or customers?  If most of your business comes from one geographic area, you don’t want to locate your business somewhere that will be a long drive for your customers.  Also, if you’re an interior decorating firm, you may not want to locate in a building primarily filled with medial offices.  I’d recommend you find a location with more synergist tenants.

Understand ALL the Costs.  Make sure you understand all the costs involved in a commercial lease.  There is more to consider than just the monthly rent.  Who is responsible for building out your new work space?  Many landlords offer a certain dollar per square foot for a build out.  Is that sufficient for your needs?  What about utilities, insurance and trash pick-up?  And don’t forget to include items such as office furniture, equipment, signage, new business cards, etc.

Room for Growth.  As your small business continues to grow, you may find you need additional space.  Make sure there is room for expansion.  I’m sure you’ve seen restaurants who have built large followings in a small space and as a result, they are nearly impossible with which to get a reservation.  These small businesses are hamstrung by their inability to expand.

 Reasonable Time.  Many landlords want business owners to sign long leases.  While it’s unlikely you can negotiate a one or two year lease, try to avoid committing yourself to a long-term lease.  Most likely, the landlord will require you to personally sign for the lease.  So if your business can’t support the on-going commitment, you’ll be personally responsible.

Get Professional Advice.  Commercial leases are tricky.  Don’t try to go it alone.  Spend the money on hiring a lawyer who is familiar with commercial leases.  It will be a smart investment.

It’s an exciting time for your business as you consider this move.  Make sure you make smart, not emotional decisions.

Sponsored by AT&T