By Jeff Doughman
March 5, 2009
Whether it’s due to companies downsizing, former corporate workers receiving buyout packages or someone simply deciding that now is the right time, increasingly more individuals are deciding to go into business for themselves. And one of the early challenges these small business owners and entrepreneurs will face is establishing a professional image to help get their burgeoning business off the ground. Sure you can establish a home-based office, but what do you do when you need a more professional environment to meet with a prospective client or how do you deal with every day distractions like kids, barking dogs or television?
The good news is that securing professional office space doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. There are cost-effective options like fully furnished, move-in ready offices that can help small business owners establish the professional presence they need to help legitimize their business. These options are available for a fraction of the cost of leasing traditional space.
When looking for office space there are some common pitfalls that small business owners should avoid. To reduce expenses and secure room for future growth, the office experts at Regus encourage entrepreneurs to use the “SPACE” test below to help ensure they’re getting the right office at the right price before they sign on the dotted line:
S - Savings
There are ways to limit upfront costs and save money beyond the price of rent. If a traditional lease, which typically lasts five to 10 years, makes sense, negotiate a smaller upfront deposit, which usually consists of six months rent or up to half of the total cost of the lease. Businesses also can save up to 60 percent on office space costs by using ready-to-work space that includes furnishings, most office equipment and maintenance.
P - Productivity
Many business owners still want all employees to work in the same place at the same time, but the best office space is structured to help employees be more productive - which may mean not working in an office at all. Review which employees really have to be at a physical office, and which ones can telecommute from home or a shared office space location. This can help save on overhead by reducing the amount of space needed.
A - Address
Having a Park Avenue address in New York or working from the John Hancock Center in Chicago can add a level of prestige to your business that’s hard to calculate in dollars. But leasing traditional space in those key business districts may still be cost prohibitive. Consider using a virtual office instead of leasing physical space to obtain a Pennsylvania Avenue address in Washington D.C., or an “office” in Rockefeller center.
C - Clauses
Not understanding the fine print in your leasing contract could mean unwelcome and unexpected fees at a later date. Clauses in your leasing agreement dictate everything from when rent is due to limitations of use and your maintenance obligations. It’s important to read and understand all clauses before signing your lease.
E - Expansion
If your business changes drastically, will your space change with you? Ask your potential landlord about what options exist to expand, or shrink, your space should the need arise. Consider exploring other leasing options, such as subleasing or shared spaces. Adding or contracting space as needed prevents business owners from paying for space they aren’t using at startup or cramming into a small space when growth exceeds expectations.
Jeff Doughman is regional vice president for Regus, a provider of workplace solutions operating a global network of more than 1,000 business centers in 450 cities and 75 countries. He can be reached at [email protected].