Choosing an Office for Your New Business

By : Nick Marr

Anyone who has been involved in a startup will know that there are numerous decisions that have to be made in the days, weeks and months leading up to launch. But perhaps one of the most fundamental, yet least discussed, is its physical location.

Some businesses are purely web based. However, so much is said about the importance of an online presence in today’s business environment that it is easy to overlook the fact that there are plenty that need a physical presence, too. Let’s run through some of the core considerations.

Location, location

It wasn’t so long ago that being a successful business meant having a London postcode, and having a “proper” career meant a job in the city and a season ticket that allowed you to waste 15-20 hours of your life every week sitting on public transport. How times have changed.

You can find out here where businesses are choosing to set up home in the modern era, but in short, swanky city centre real estate is very much of the 20th century, and today, suburban locations like Bromley, Teddington, Watford and Ilford are far more popular.

A reduced price tag is one thing, but they also provide a more peaceful working environment, while still enjoying transport links that are every bit as good as those in central London.

Buy, lease or borrow

When businesses were all in the city centres, then it was a case of getting onto a property management firm, finding something to your taste and negotiating the lease. This is still an option for an out-of-town location, but there are other choices, too.

Buying an office outright sounds like a major investment, but this is the operative word. We all know there’s nothing safer than bricks and mortar, and it is a handy asset to have on the balance sheet, particularly at those moments when a business is looking to raise finance.

But what about that third option? Surely you can’t borrow an office? If yours is a business in which everyone can work remotely and you only need an office for the occasional meeting, perhaps you can.

Simply renting the space, either by the hour or on a long term basis that gives you a set number of hours per year can be highly cost effective. The idea seems even more tempting if your meetings are all about impressing clients. Renting a conference room at a prestigious location, and having access to all the peripherals such as freshly brewed coffee and biscuits gives off a very different impression than furiously trying to clear a space in your bombsite of an office and offering a cup of “builder’s tea” in a chipped and stained mug.

The point is that in the brave new business world, there is no one right answer for anything, so it is essential to sit down with your friends, associates and advisors to really think about what you need from your office before you make any firm decisions.