As business lawyers, we are often asked about commercial leases and related real estate issues. Before you actually rent a new business space, there are some important matters to think about. First, ask yourself if you could simply improve your existing location? If some renovations and improvements would meet your needs, it may be far more cost effective than moving. Second, don’t rule out utilizing some other space that you already own? Smaller businesses in particular might be able to get away with working out of their homes, and even larger business may be able to use real estate they already own.
If fixing up your existing property just won’t work and moving out is the only real alternative, then it’s time to sit down and think about what really matters before heading out to examine new business sites.
Here are some considerations to weigh and balance when deciding to rent a commercial space for your new small business.
Financial Reality: Ultimately, the space you can expect to rent depends on how much money you have. Don’t just have a ballpark figure in mind, sit down and really crunch the numbers to set real targets for how much you expect to spend on rent, a security deposit, insurance, business taxes, maintenance, etc.
Size: How much space you require may be a major factor in determining where you can even start, so nail down exactly how much space you think you’ll need now and in the foreseeable future.
Lease Term: Pay attention to lease terms. Since moving is so time consuming and expensive, seriously consider how long you want to rent a space for. Finding the perfect building for your business wont do you much good if you just have move again in two years.
Security: It is obviously important that both your employees and customers feel safe while at your business, so always look into the crime reports of any area you are considering moving your business to. Security also impacts accessibility and appearance – in higher crime areas you may have an obligation to puts bars on windows, post security guards and implement more extensive security systems.
Business Needs: Prospective tenants usually have a vision in their head of what they want, but often haven’t taken the time to really sit down and break down what is a need, what is a want, and what is simply unacceptable. Take the time to write down these three categories and fill them in with as much detail as you can. For example, maybe you need a certain amount of square footage, want a building constructed in the past 20 years, and would find it unacceptable to rent a building without modern air conditioning.
Location, Location, Location: Simply put, location matters just as much in the commercial context as it does in the residential real estate market. Don’t just rent based on whether your building is in a more upscale area or not, though. Instead, take logistical factors into account, such as the distance between the location and suppliers, distributors, customers, business partners and transportation corridors.
Expandable: As important as size is, its difficult to determine what your future needs might be, so take into account whether a space is expandable into nearby offices or not. Ultimately, you’re in business to be successful, so you should probably plan on needing to expand in the future and save yourself the headache of having to move all over again.
Neighbors: Who your neighbors are matters a great deal to some businesses, with some businesses acting as anchors for an area, so think about other businesses that you would normally expect to see near your own. This not only creates potential ties with nearby businesses, but it is helpful to customers to find a group of related businesses in an area.
Accessibility: Consider all aspects of accessibility, from parking and wheelchair access to the proximity of nearby highways. as Also examine how accessible your business is to large trucks and its location in relation to any freight or distribution centers.
Physical Appearance: For some businesses, physical appearance is extremely important and for others, almost irrelevant. Figure out what kind of business you are running. If you are a retailer then appearance may trump other factors, whereas if you are a supplier or middleman, a simple industrial site may make more sense.
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