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Things to consider in the choice of place for business

Often working from home is not viable or the business has grown and you need to find a new place to operate from. Premises can be rented, leased or purchased and either way will form a major cost. Choose carefully and consider exactly what you'll need.

Type of Premises
The place has to fit the purpose of your business, office space for professional services, retail premises for clothing, or a warehouse for stock storage. Perhaps your business calls for combination of needs. All staff don't always need to be located in the one building. Perhaps your office staff will be better in a location away from the hustle and bustle of the warehouse noise. The hours you run will also be a consideration do you need 24 hour access or perhaps only weekdays?

Fully furnished and equipped? Or an empty shelf?
If growth is hard to predict serviced offices are a great choice. They also work well in a period of short notice or a high quality location is needed for receiving visitors. It can seem expensive but the convenience factor can outweigh that. Offices often come equipped with furniture and IT equipment, secretarial services, refreshments and cleaners. So check thoroughly what a service is offering you in the package.

If you are taking on an 'empty shell' building or space planning permission will need to be sought before you can do any internal or external building work/alterations. Check out with local authorities about the type of use the building is specified for. You may need to make an application to change it before the premises can be used for a business. All of the planning, equipment and furnishing cost will need to be factored in.

Rent or Purchase?
Take as much care buying a commercial property as you would your family home. Include the services of a surveyor, perhaps an estate agent, a solicitor and perhaps a mortgage broker. Although a large investment it secures the freedom to make choices as to what to do with the building. It's also security knowing a landlord isn't going to land any surprises on you. It will be an asset for the business.

Renting is cheaper in the first instance, but over time can be a significant cost. Rent payments still need to paid even in the hard times. Use an experienced solicitor to thoroughly check the lease agreement.

How much space?
When ascertaining space needs think of how much equipment you'll need, storage, and how many staff you'll employ. Then forecast what your needs may be in 3 years time, even 5 or 10 years time. Try and choose a space that has the capacity to grow with business needs. Some leases can be for long term, and purchasing is a large outlay to just have to do it all over again in a few years time.

Comply with the minimum health and safety regulations for space requirements and ventilation per person (11 cubic metres each employee) at the very least. In fact it is always better to exceed these limit. Temperatures must be at least 16 Celsius for sedentary workers or 13 for active workers.

This is very important factor to business, where you locate can make all the difference in getting customers to buy.

Are customers willing to travel to you or do you need to be in a more convenient location for them.

If the business will be relying on new customers seeing you and popping in, e.g. coffee shop, snack bar, the business will need to be right where the target market is located. If you need space and know people will come to you, e.g. plant nursery, new car sales, a premises out of the way a little is fine. It still helps to be along a main road for attention. Other thing to consider is the location for suppliers and where your employees live.

For a business customers, staff or suppliers need to drive to you'll have to provide adequate parking. Lack of parking is a sure fire way to keep customers away. Supplier trucks will also need to factor in parking space. Is it easy to unload and load stock in a safe place?

Security needs may also require extra space if you need to offer on-site security facilities.

Hours of operation can determine location. 24 hour businesses may be restricted to certain area types. So check to see if local regulations differ concerning hours of trading.
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