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While a startup can survive in a basement or garage for a few months, there eventually comes a time when you’ll need to move into your first real office. When this time comes, will you know what you’re doing?
Moving into your first office isn’t as simple as finding a building you like and leasing it out. There’s a lot that goes into a real estate transaction – whether you’re purchasing or renting – and you need to be prepared to deal with all of the issues. Specifically, you’ll want to think about the following:
From a very practical perspective, location is hugely important. What sort of infrastructure is nearby? Look for things like internet connectivity, cell phone signal strength, and for-rent signs. Are there tonnes of vacancies or do well-established businesses call the area home? Is there a lot of unwanted foot traffic or does the neighbourhood seem safe?
You also want to think about stores and restaurants in the area. Are there places to grab a quick bite to eat? Is there an office supply store nearby? These may all seem like small details, but they matter when you’re spending your entire workweek in the same location.
Square footage is probably one of the first things you think about when looking for an office space, but make sure you aren’t only thinking about the present. If you expect your company to grow in the coming weeks and months, account for this growth now. The last thing you want is to outgrow your office. Moving is expensive, frustrating, and time-consuming. So, rent as much space as you can afford.
3. Contract legalities
“Working ahead of the game to understand legal ramifications and plan for negotiation can minimise potential problems or contention among parties to the transaction,” attorney Vitctor H. Falvey says. “Common legalities that can arise during real estate transactions might include lien holder questions, tax issues, disputes regarding various property rights and creditor claims.”
Work closely with your real estate agent and a real estate attorney to make sure you’re dotting all your I’s and crossing all your T’s. By identifying issues early during the process, you can save substantial time and money on the backend.
Insurance is hugely important. “You need to make sure you have the necessary public liability insurance, which covers customers or members of the public in the event of injury from your premises, including compensation and legal expenses,” explains Cathie Sellars of Workspace. It’s also smart to think about professional indemnity insurance, which covers liability for self-employed staff and freelancers, and buildings insurance, which protects you from costs associated with structural damage to the property. The more protection you can afford, the more stable your business will be.
5. Taxes and utilities
Don’t be foolish enough to assume that the monthly lease payment or mortgage bill is all you’ll have to cover. There are also taxes and utilities, which can sometimes add up to just as much as the monthly payment. Gather these details before entering into an agreement so you know exactly what to expect. You don’t want any surprises to show up when your first bills come in the mail.
Putting it all together
As you can see, moving into your first office is both exciting and complicated. Make sure you’re sorting through all of the logistical issues and technicalities well in advance so that the process can go as smooth as possible. From location and space to insurance, contract legalities, and taxes – it all matters.
Feature image: Jesús Corrius via Flickr.