Growing Your Business: 6 Factors to Consider Before Renting Office Space

by Jill Foster on April 3, 2009


Guest post from Mayra Ruiz-McPherson, regular guest contributor to Women Grow Business. Mayra works as an independent marketing strategist and social media enthusiast. With over 14 years of marketing and communications experience, Mayra helps businesses and non-profits with all aspects of their brand identity, outreach communications, and competitive positioning. She produces the blog Marketing Misfit and can be reached at www.twitter.com/marketingMisfit.

As shared in a previous post, my digital marketing and PR practice is enjoying some growth. Last I left things, I wasn’t sure which way to go … stay “as is” or to grow.

Giving the recession ‘the bird’ (& finding new office space)
I have, after much careful thought and consideration, decided to give the recession “The Bird” and make a go at growing. And as part of that growth, I have started looking for a small studio or office to sub-lease or rent … which brings me to this new blog post about what you should consider when embarking on renting-a-small-office-space adventure.

(image – My Cubicle-updated – by Royal Sapien, Creative Commons)

Before continuing …
Please note that surely, there are far many more considerations when moving in the direction of leasing office space of any kind beyond those I share here. That said, this blog post is geared more toward the independent practitioner rather than a team or a staff seeking commercial space.

So here’s more on making the transition from home office to commercially-leased space.

What you should know.

1.) Consider lifestyle changes with home vs new office space.
Working from home affords many comforts a leased office space would normally not. These must be carefully considered. At an office location I had been recently checking out,

-the landlord was very strict about making sure no children were allowed to run up and down the hallways and understandably children were not allowed to “disturb the peace.”

So for those stay-at-home-mompreneurs, surely this would be a challenge or, at minimum, a top consideration. Additionally, overly casual work attire of the pajama kind and possibly work-family schedules may also be important factors to consider before making the rented office leap.

2.) Ask potential landlords if they rent furniture.
Obviously, one needs furniture and equipment at the new commercial space. However, in terms of furniture, another landlord I spoke with indicated he had a storage unit filled with unused office filing cabinets, desks, tables, chairs and even cubicle partitions. He said he would be happy to rent these out to me, as needed, for $5 per item! Not bad at all! I checked these out and the desks where the “real” kind … really big, sturdy and wide.

Perhaps others may have their own furniture to bring but someone like me, starting literally from the ground up, an offer such as this is quite helpful in the starting phases. I realize this is a unique opportunity but when you are planning to sub-lease from a bigger, more financed operation, sometimes they can help or contribute in more ways than you’d initially think.

The point is you’ll never know what’s possible unless you ask.

3.) Your home-office technology may need to stay home.
And that means being ready to allocate funds toward new office tech.

Initially, I had been thinking I could just migrate my home office technology into the commercially leased space. That thinking, however, was a bit short sighted. There would still be days where I would work from my home office. In those cases, what would I use? Also, my teens’ computer is networked to my printer. If I took the printer away, how would they print their school work and projects? What this meant was that I would have to invest in some new or added workstation and/or technology beyond what I initially thought would be needed.

This results in additional, unforeseen start up costs for me to factor in.

4.) Verify what office rent includes i.e. trash/cleaning services, parking, etc
At yet a third office location I had visited, the rent there did not include trash removal and office cleaning. These were additional costs (at two places previously, the rent included trash removal and cleaning service). What other things are not included in the rent? Be sure to ask about parking, storage, and bathroom accessibility.

5.) Know where you can post business signage.
Where are you (or not) allowed to place outside signage? My first location had wonderful multiple outdoor signage opportunities; two others did not. If outdoor signage is important, and I can’t imagine where it wouldn’t be, be sure to ask about this important branding and marketing opportunity.

6.) Look at consequences of sharing space with tenants.

Seeing as I’m a small fry with big starchy dreams (smile), I can’t at this time afford the rent on an entire building.

This means I have to share the floor or the space with other small business tenants. At one location, the office available was one of seven on the same floor. All tenants would be sharing the bathroom and kitchen facilities.

A less than ideal situation
A hairdresser friend of mine with her own beauty salon, however, had a less than ideal situation. She had been told that her rent included all utilities. In the end, it turns out that wasn’t the case. She had to “share” the water bill with another salon next door and every month, the water bill issue was a thorn on her side. Who had used what and how much? They never could agree. The end result: my hairdressing friend relocated her beauty salon to a new location.

Again, there are so many other important legal, administrative and financial considerations. Here, however, I wanted to highlight a handful of factors that are often unknown or not thought about before hand.

I have to say, I’m not sure when I’ll make this leap. I hope to sometime this year. For now, I want to be smart about it and do a lot of comparing and contrast. I’m hopeful to find a good spot that’s reasonable.

Until next time…

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