Choosing the Right Office Space for Your Small Business

Whether you are looking for your very first space or trying to upgrade your current digs, choosing an office space can be an exciting and challenging time for any business owner. To help you on your quest to find the perfect home for your company, we've pulled together a list of 5 things you need to keep in mind when evaluating potential spaces. By using this checklist, you can rest assured that you are choosing the right office space for your small business.

1. Location

They say location is everything. In terms of office space, it is true on many different levels. Is the location of the space you are considering...:
  • convenient for your potential customers?
  • an easy commute for your most valuable employees?
  • in a safe neighborhood?
  • have easy access to public transit?
  • surrounded by good amenities for your industry?
  • have adequate parking?

2. Layout

The way that your office space flows is important to both your clients and your employees. Things to keep in mind are:
  • Do you have an adequate amount of personal space for each employee? While it can depend on the industry, the current recommendation is around 200 square feet per person.
  • Are there enough outlets and support for your technology?
  • Are there adequate "extra" spaces (i.e. conference rooms, kitchen, break room, executive offices, reception, storage, etc.)?
  • Is there room for your company to grow in size?

3. Building

You may think that the look or feel of the building has little to do with your business. In reality, it has a lot to do with your overall success. Make sure that you ask about:
  • Security: Is it key card access only? Are there security guards? How secure are your company's possessions 24 hours a day?
  • Look: Would you be embarrassed to put a photo of your building on your website? Are you proud have potential clients visit? What does the vibe of the building say about your company?
  • Neighbors: What other companies are in the building? Are there competitors lurking around? A major renovation planned next door?
  • ADA: Is the space compliant with the Americans for Disability Act?

4. Lease

The contract you sign will have a huge impact on your overall experience in your space. Always make sure you look at:
  • Terms of the lease: If you believe that your business will grow quickly or you are hoping to sell your company in the near future, make sure that you are familiar with how long the lease lasts, the consequences of breaking the contract early, and who is responsible for the lease if you transfer ownership of the company. You also want to check the renewal process to make sure that the landlord doesn't give your space away to someone else or jack up your rent.
  • Decorations: Can you paint? Brand the building? Hang things on the walls? Whether it is a simple design element or a major new look, you want to know what the owner of the space allows - and what you have to do when you leave.

5. Price

The cost of your space is more than your monthly rental payment. Don't forget about:
  • Comparisons: Make sure that the cost of the office is in line with comparable spaces in the area.
  • Hidden costs: Is maintenance included? How about parking? What do utilities generally run? What will be the expense of moving into the space?
  • Emergency plan: Can you afford to pay at least 3 months rent right now? If you were to have a major cash flow problem, would you be in danger of defaulting on your lease?
You want to have an office space that you are proud of. One where you, your employees, and your customers are happy and thriving. By keeping these 5 considerations in mind, you can rest assured that you are choosing the right office space for your company.