Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak kickstarted Apple in a Silicon Valley Garage. Was this the ideal startup space? No, but all the greats had to start somewhere before moving into offices large enough to hold over 100,000 employees.
You may not be quite there yet. However, finding a space to hold 10 or more employees is just as important. It’s where every monumental moment for your startup will occur moving forward. Your team will excel here, move on from struggles here, and clients will close deals with you here.
Unfortunately, the task of finding that critical office space can be a major source of stress for entrepreneurs. The energetic glow of growing is easily dimmed by the need to meet everyone’s needs and hit budget. You need the find the right city and space for your startup.
You have the power to take control of your upgrade without all the added stress. With the right information and tools, you and your team will soon be packing up and moving into your new space. Here’s a look at detailed steps you need to take to find the right startup space:
Consider Employee Commutes
It’s easy to find yourself wrapped up in the hype of a trendy neighbourhood. Or if your budget is tight, you may be searching for the biggest bang for your buck. While both are important, nothing stands above being considerate of your employees.
Create a map with designated pins for each employees’ place of residence. Then, mark office space locations that are relatively convenient for each person on your team to travel on a consistent basis. This centralized location takes unnecessary travel burdens off of your team, making them more satisfied and productive while at work.
Determine Your Budget
This is the least exciting part of finding a new office space. But it’s critical to ensure you’re not wasting time looking at startup spaces beyond your price range or depleting your funds before you even have time to enjoy the office.
List out all of your current expenses:
- How much do you pay for the small details, like the internet, technology tools, employee phone plans?
- How much do you pay employees? Do you plan on increasing their pay without the next year?
- How much do you need to set aside for emergency purposes?
- What are your marketing and advertising costs?
- How much are you paying yourself?
After you’ve calculated expenses, determine a safe estimate of the company income. How much do you anticipate making in the next six months, year, two years? If a worst-case scenario situation arose, how much cash would you need set aside to survive a few months without putting your team and company in jeopardy?
Because worst-case scenario surprises do exist, it’s important to estimate high on expenses and low on income — just to be safe. Once you’ve punched the numbers, you’ll have an idea of the budget you’re working with.
Know Your Needs
Your startup has new needs — that’s why you’re looking for a new office space. Fleshing out those needs will help determine which office spaces will work for the long-haul. Here are a few things to consider:
- Do you and your employees need parking spaces?
- How much office space do you need? (Calculation tip: 800 square feet for every five employees)
- Do you need a storefront with plenty of foot traffic?
- Do you need a place that’s easily accessible to clients?
- Do any of your employees or current clients have requirements based on disabilities?
- Do you plan on growing within the next year or two?
Find A Top-rated Real Estate Agent
This is a monumental moment for your company. Don’t put the complicated leases, contracts, and the task of finding the perfect space all on your shoulders. Find a local real estate agent you trust with a proven track record of finding office spaces.
Reach out to friends and family for recommendations on their favourite agents. Then, put in the extra research work by digging into reviews on Zillow and Realtor.com. During this stage, be sure to calculate the average real estate commission for your location into your budget to prevent any surprise costs.
Once you’ve found someone your network trusts and has great reviews, begin filling them in on your information. Being proactive means they can get to work finding the perfect office space immediately.
Consider A Coworking Space
Coworking spaces offer flexible, budget-friendly working environments. The spaces are often shared with like-minded entrepreneurs and small business owners like yourself. These spaces, however, do vary in layout, amenity sharing, and level of professionalism.
In addition to being low-cost, these spaces often don’t require long-term membership or contract leases. Should a business emergency arise, you can go back to your former office arrangements.
Coworking spaces aren’t the right fit for every company. Compare your team’s needs when evaluating these types of offices. There may be additional costs for storage, there are no additional office supplies, aside from a laptop, you don’t have easy access to tech tools, and your team may not be productive in this type of socializing environment.
Interview The Landlord
You have a business to run. There’s no time for bad landlord drama throughout the duration of your contract.
Put your agent to work as a trusted resource. Ask them to find reliable recommendations and disclaimers on landlords in your target area. Then, talk to the tenants in the building. Ask questions regarding the landlord’s response time when something is needed, their dedication to contract details, and their overall demeanour.
Put Your Negotiating Powers To The Test
Everything is negotiable, including rent. Don’t give up on your dream office space because of a slightly elevated listing price.
Check-in with your agent. Discuss recent lease prices in the area and how long those spaces were on the market. Also, ask them to explain the current state of the real estate market.
A “hot” buyer’s market means there are more spaces available for sale than there are buyers to purchase them. This is the best-case scenario when renting an office space because owners want that source of income back in their pockets.
On the other hand, a “hot” seller’s market means there are more buyers than there are available spaces on the market. In this case, it may be more challenging to negotiate the price lower.
Based on this information, consider a reasonable initial offer. If they won’t budge on the overall cost, find other areas to negotiate. You can ask for the first month’s rent free or additional amenities.
Don’t compare your office space journey to other startups. The next few steps you take should be based solely on your company’s and team’s needs. Consider this office space a place where your team will grow and transition into the next phase of success.
Go On, Tell Us What You Think!
Did we miss something? Come on! Tell us what you think about our article on how to find the right startup space in the comments section.
Ben Mizes is the Co-Founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top Real Estate Agents who can help you save thousands on commission. Ben is also an active real estate investor with 22 units in St. Louis and a licensed Real Estate Agent in the State of Missouri.