Getting your first office space is a big commitment, particularly from a financial point of view. Costs can come at you from all angles, so it pays to try to save money wherever you can. Peter Ames looks at how you might be able to make the process as cheap as possible.
Going Solo vs. Getting an Agent
Agents generally charge a fee of 10% on top of your first year’s rent, so you’d think it would pay to go it alone and find a new office yourself. On paper, this is one way to cut the costs of getting a new office search – and, after all, who’s better qualified to find you an office that’s right for you?
However, Agents bring a wealth of contacts, knowledge and negotiating ability. They could ultimately save you money by finding you a super-cheap property or by brokering you a cracking deal. The decision is yours.
One thing an agent may be able to find are a few great value hidden gems in less fashionable locations. Agent or not, while your eye may be drawn by a city-centre property, it can often pay to spread your net and consider less premium spots such as these.
These locations, whether they are out of town or simply in a less trendy area, often offer potential savings. With transport links, particularly in and around big cities, as good as they have ever been staff should still be able to make it to work easily enough. If people are driving you may find there are even better parking options out of town.
If you do go for an office in a less fashionable part of town, look for a location that is expecting some gentrification, this might be a double win: you get a cheaper property and in a few years you could be in a really thriving area!
Consider a Shared Space
First and foremost there are great alternative options out there – particularly for startups. Don’t limit yourself to offices rented on a traditional long term lease. An all-inclusive shared office, where you rent space in another company’s offices, could be a handy solution if you’re on a budget. When you factor in all the overheads associated with leased property (utilities, building management fees, furnishings), desk rental can be cheaper than leasing your own space.
Traditional leased properties can also be inflexible and often be a lot of hassle to manage, particularly for a small business. Shared offices can offer all-inclusive packages on flexible rolling month-to-month contracts. If you’d like to read more about this option check out Office Genie’s guide to shared offices.
Go big and monetise your spare space
Of course, getting an office that’s bigger than you need doesn’t sound like a great way to save money when you’re looking for cheap space. However if you were to rent out your spare space, then it suddenly can become a really affordable option.
A further problem if you’re a small startup, and you do have your heart set on a traditional lease, is that some smaller properties can be pokey, dingy affairs. Leasing a larger space is one way to get around this.
Do bear in mind though there is some risk attached to doing this. There are no guarantees you’ll be able to rent out all your spare space for a start. Also bear in mind it may not be the best idea to sign up to a long-term lease with such a young business. In the early stages flexibility can often be key, whilst the admin involved in managing your own space can be a hassle.
[Editors’ Note: This is a guest post by Peter Ames who writes for Office Genie, a site where you can both find and list desk space in the UK.]