Been beavering away in the spare room or garage for a bit too long? If your startup or small business is now all grown up – or big enough to leave home, at least –it may be time to look at moving to professional premises.
So what are some of the things you need to consider before racing out and renting a workspace?
How much room you’ll need for starters, says Amanda Anderson, founder of The Tenant Company, a consultancy which provides commercial property advice to small business owners.
As a rule of thumb, allow around 10 square metres per person – 15 if you want them in separate offices, Anderson says.
How many staff to allow for? It’s a tricky one. While there’s no sense paying for scores of empty seats, taking only enough space for your current headcount may mean you’re cheek by jowl in nine months’ time if the business goes gangbusters, or hunting for new premises all over again.
Where to base yourself is another biggie. While panoramic views from the 40th floor of a prestige CBD building may appeal, you’ll need to cut your coat according to cloth.
Set your budget – remembering to allow for outgoings, fitout costs and bond, as well as the rent – then look for a location which ticks as many of your essential and nice-to-have boxes as possible, Anderson advises.
Depending on what your business is, renting an office in a co-working space could lead to several business advantages, such as the ability to network with potential customers and referrers.
These may include proximity to public transport or major customers, or the fact that it’s a hop, skip and a jump from home.
You should also think about what length of lease best suits your venture before negotiating any arrangement. Flag it early with potential landlords if you can’t commit to the standard five years. It may mean the end of the conversation or the opportunity to agree to something more flexible, with options to renew.
Or consider the low-strings option of a co-working space, if you’re still in startup mode and don’t want the long-term lock-in of renting your own premises.
Works for us, says David Bobis, a partner in Studio Culture, a digital marketing agency which has moved several times from its original perch in the home of one of the owners.
Currently based at The Coterie, a Brisbane co-working space for creative businesses, the company has a 12-month lease on a closed office, which includes furniture, utilities and kitchen access.
Less commitment – plus there are additional benefits to working alongside other growing ventures, Bobis says.
“Depending on what your business is, renting an office in a co-working space could lead to several business advantages, such as the ability to network with potential customers and referrers,” he says.
Sylvia Pennington is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business, information technology and personal finance.