How to set up your first office space

For any start-up, finding your own premises is a big step. Read these five considerations to help you find and kit out the perfect office…

Congratulations, your start-up is growing and you’re now in a position to think about setting up an office space. Excited? Nervous? Naturally. It’s a big step, but a vital one, which hopefully will see your business continue to flourish and expand.

There is a lot to consider before signing the dotted line and popping open the celebratory champagne. Take a look at this guide on setting up your first office space then set those plans into action.

The legal stuff

Firstly, you need to decide whether or not you’re in a strong enough position to commit. Talk to partners or other small businesses that have recently made the move. Once you have confirmed that setting up an office will be feasible and productive for your business, it’s time to get in some specialised help from a commercial property agent.

An agent will have a deep knowledge of the market and will be able to give professional advice at every step to help you make the best decisions for your company. Make sure that you view a number of properties, asking the landlords as many questions as you can along the way. Investigate the buildings and, if possible, speak to existing or previous tenants. Talk with the property agent about your lease and make sure that the terms are suited to you as a tenant.

Calculate the costs

Renting a new office will increase your monthly outgoings. Costs you must consider include rent rates, heating, lighting, insurance, business rates, cleaning and your internet connection. One option that is popular with small businesses is to rent out serviced offices. These usually include the above outgoings, except internet and telephones which are charged separately. Make sure that you are fully aware of what is included in the cost of where you are renting and what additional overheads you will need to cover. A benefit of serviced offices is that you can usually take out a short-term agreement, so you can review the business on a monthly basis and be flexible about the company’s future movements.

calculating costs

Location, location, location

You now know you want an office space and the type of office you’re after, but where do you want it to be? You may have to make some compromises here, taking into consideration that you will probably be competing with other employers in the area. An ideal situation is to find a central location that’s easy to commute to.

It’s also worth considering stationing yourself near to a pool of skilled labour if your business requires this. When it comes to deciding on the office size, you really need to determine how much you expect the workforce to grow and what extra space is needed. However, if you’re on a short term lease, it’s more sensible to find a space that fits your current workforce with just a couple more workstations. You can always move office at short notice if you really need to.

Getting connected

The team can’t get to work without a good phone and internet connection, so get it sorted ASAP. Ring up and talk to providers to get the best internet deals for businesses — you never know what they might be able to offer you! Phone systems aren’t as expensive as they used to be either and they are much less today than they were 10 years ago. You might even be able to get a deal that forwards calls onto your mobile phone, which is much more convenient in 2015. Decide on whether you’re going to go Apple or PC — if you’re not sure, PCs are the general rule of thumb for new start-ups but it does no harm to talk to your staff about what they work best with.

Earth and electronics

Get the decorators in

The legal stuff is signed, you’ve got a new address and everybody is connected. It’s time to fill the space up, strictly sticking to your budget. Make sure that you provide a good kitchen and bathroom space for staff and visiting clients. A water dispenser, kettle, fridge and sink area are all basic musts. Then there’s the printer, stationery cupboard and photocopier to bring in. Invest in enough chairs, desks and meeting space, making sure that you have a few extras. Now is also a good time to inject some personality into your brand as it starts to emerge as a successful business. From branding to plants to colourful decorative touches, build an office that reflects the boldness of your organisation.

Hopefully, you have the confidence to make this big move and have a good indication of what you need to do next to achieve it. Speak to as many professionals as you can. It always helps to get advice from people who have been through it themselves. Think about how much this move will help shape the company’s future and you’ll realise that the time and commitment will pay you back in the end.

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