Business owners all have that one perfect spot pictured in their minds — the place where they think their small business will soar.
Usually commercial real estate is too fickle to bend to the whims of a single business owner, but once in a while the clouds part and an “office for rent” sign appears in just the right window.
You’ve been waiting for this day for months or years, but do you really know what to do next? Here are a few questions to ask yourself (and your potential landlord) before you sign on the dotted line:
Do you need to rent at all? You’re going to have to really examine your business in a way that’s emotionally detached from the real estate in question to discover if you’re truly ready to rent. Does your business need more space than your garage, home office or existing facility affords? Do you anticipate hiring more customers or gaining some other benefit from the new location that can justify the expense? If you determine that you really need to rent, then you’ll want to arrange a viewing of the space with your commercial real estate agent.
How long will you lease? Before you walk into the building, know how long you’ll want to lease the office you’re viewing. Is your business growing at a pace that will require another move down the road — if so, how long before it will outgrow the new office? When you know how long you’ll want to occupy a specific location, you can keep your options open by stating this ahead of time. Even if the landlord initially wants a five- or 10-year lease, the term can typically be negotiated.
Will the location meet your needs? Another long, hard look is necessary to determine if the office for rent is really what you need. After all, if it’s far away from your customer base, doesn’t offer the kind of amenities your employees are used to having available or is simply in the wrong neighborhood, it could affect business in a multitude of ways. Businesses that don’t rely on walk-in traffic often don’t have to worry about this as much, but you’ll still want to ensure that your location is safe and secure to prevent crime-related problems.
Exactly how much will it cost? Office space often costs more than just the basic rent. You may also be responsible for utilities, common area maintenance fees or parking fees that aren’t included in the lease. Make sure what you’re paying for with your rent, as well as any extra fees you’ll be responsible for, is clearly outlined in the new lease before you sign it. Commercial real estate leases can be complicated, make sure to read everything thoroughly or hire an expert to guide you.
Even if that special office seems like it’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of, you have to enter negotiations with a great deal of trepidation. It’s not often that an office space is too good to be true, so be prepared to unearth the good and the bad before you commit.