Taking the plunge to rent your first office can be a daunting prospect for any small business. There are many things to deter businesses from taking that step, whether it be the cost of renting an office or the lack of knowledge required to make sound judgements about what is good or bad for your business.
This is something that we have been discussing at Bytewire recently as the same questions kept cropping up. Could we be more successful if we worked in an office? Would the quality of our work improve in a more focused environment such as an office? Would separating personal life and work be easier if you worked in an office?
If the answer to these questions is “Yes” then an office maybe for you. Although moving into an office is not guaranteed to solve these issues its likely to improve the professionalism of your business, your outlook on the future of your business and encourage you to look to grow your business.
Finding the right office
There are many different ways of finding an office but a good starting place is of course the Internet. Websites such as Rightmove and Find a Property are a good place to start. If you see any potential don’t be afraid to ring up for more details as you may uncover additional information or other local properties.
If you can’t find an office online another great method of sourcing an office is word of mouth. Ask your friends and family if they know of any vacant spaces which you could utilise or visit some local businesses and ask if they would consider renting an unused section of their office. These two methods are especially recommended if you are on an extremely tight budget and/or you only require a small office space.
How much is it going to cost?
Once you have found some potential offices you need to weigh up the cost. This can be very tricky to judge as there are a number of things to take into consideration.
Not only do you have the rent for the office space you will also be required to pay council tax. The amount of tax you pay is based on the rateable value of the property you rent. The rateable value is given to you by the local council and will vary from area to area. The council work out the tax based on details of actual rent paid from occupiers and landlords, which is then broken down into price per square metre.
You can find out the rateable value of the properties in the area on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website
If you are a small business you maybe eligible for business rate relief which will reduce the amount of tax you are required to pay. You can find out more information about this on your local councils website.
In addition to rent and council tax you will also have a number of bills to take into consideration. These include electricity, phone, broadband and water. To ensure you get the best deals on all your utilities make sure you shop around.
Making an offer
If you have found the right office and have the budget the next step is to make an offer. Before doing so there are several things you should research in order to get the best possible deal. Being armed with information about how long the property has been vacant and the urgency of the landlord to find a tenant will enable you to haggle to get yourself a better deal.
The motto of “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” generally applies to everything so don’t be shy to make an basic offer which is 10 – 15% under the rent asked for. The worst case scenario will be that the landlord declines your offer, however this can open up negotiations in which you may still manage to save some money.
Agreeing a contract
An important part of renting a property is the contract. This part of the negotiation is normally handled by an agent or a solicitor who acts on behalf of both parties. Even with this in mind its vitally important that you read the contract through in detail as once signed you agree to everything which has been written.
The contract will also specify the amount of time that you agree to rent the property for. This is something you will need to discuss with the landlord in order to agree a suitable time. Some landlords will not accept less than a 3 years however some are willing to accept as little as 6 months.
Preparing to move in
Once you have agreed a deal to rent the property ensure you agree a date to move in. Ideally this date will be 1 – 2 weeks in advance allowing you time to plan the move and get everything in place ready.
If the property is currently vacant some landlords are willing to give you the keys early therefore allowing you to set up the space and furnish it as you require before you move in.
Moving into an office for the first time can be a daunting prospect however taking your time to consider your options will enable you a smoother process to successfully renting your first office.