Business premises: Do your research

If it's time to take your business up a level and move it out of the spare room and into a purpose-built office, it's important you get it right first time and find a space that suits both your needs and your budget.

It’s all very well eyeing up that minimalist abandoned warehouse space, but if it’s out of your price range or doesn’t fit the profile of your business then it’ll soon become a very expensive millstone around your business’s neck.

So before making a decision, it’s vital you explore all of your options. There are plenty of them; an office in a city centre, virtual offices, or business villages; they all offer something different.

Related: Moving business premises: Five important things to think about

A business village, for instance, could help cut costs and build contacts as you share space with other, similar-sized businesses, while a virtual office offers a static business address without providing physical office space and is a great option if you’ve an online operation.

Here are some of the things you need to consider when looking for that optimal office space…

Work out what you need from your business premises

You’ll need a place that offers enough office and storage space for your business, or a big enough shop space if you’re in retail, but you should also plan ahead and consider locations with room to expand as your business grows.

Check whether the premises has adequate services and facilities, from suitable conference rooms for meetings with clients, to sufficient broadband speeds if being online is a big part of your business.

Consider the appearance of the premises and whether it reflects your business the way you want it to; if, for instance, you run a completely online operation then you can probably take as ramshackle a premises as you and your employees can put up with, if it helps to cut overheads.

If, on the other hand, you run a legal firm then you’ll need a plush-looking business space that instils confidence in clients and inspires employees.

Next up, is to find a suitable location.

Work out the best location for your business

Although it might be tempting to move into an office that’s a stone’s throw away from your house, if your business is on the up there’s a good chance you’ll have to also consider the needs of any clients and colleagues.

So, if all of your clients or customers are centred in a certain area, it makes sense to base your business there, especially if you are in retail. 

If circumstances dictate you have to take up premises away from your client or customer base, try to set up somewhere with excellent road and rail links to make sure it’s easily accessible.

Once you’ve found an office space you’re happy with, check out the costs of similar spaces in the same vicinity and see if you can negotiate on price, it’s also worth finding out if you’re setting up in a location that qualifies you for grants or other financial incentives.

Work out whether you should rent or buy

To rent or to buy is the age old house buyer’s conundrum, and you should consider all of your buying and leasing options before signing along the dotted line.

There are broadly three types of options open to you:

  • Licensing: This offers greater flexibility but little security as the licensor can usually cut short the arrangement at short notice.
  • Leasing: This offers a lot more security than licensing as, provided you don’t breach the terms of the lease, you’ll be in the property for an agreed period of time. The downside is you might be liable for the rent even if you have to vacate the property before the agreed leasing period is up.
  • Buying: This is a good option if you’re an established business with the necessary cash to buy outright or put down a deposit on a property. Any property you buy will then go on the company’s list of assets and potentially strengthen its value and worth.

Remember, choosing a business premises could be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make, so make sure you do thorough research to get the right space to suit your needs and budget.

If you’re a business owner, have you ever had a nightmare with your landlord? Or have you ever bought a business property outright, only to find your hand was never out of your pocket? Let us know your stories…

Also see: Checklist: Choosing business premises

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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Business Premises

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