Moving into your first office - Top tips

The majority of UK businesses are now run from home - but what if you have outgrown the kitchen?

More than 2.5 million of the UK’s small businesses are operated from home, according to new figures. Many of the world’s most successful firms started from a spare room or a kitchen table, but you can’t stay there forever. As your business grows, so too will your space requirements.

Moving into your first office is a milestone for any small business, and it can be a treacherous time. We have compiled some top tips to help smooth out the process.

Define your requirements

The first step is to define exactly what do you need. How many desks do you require? Will you need 24 hour access? What sort of location are you looking for? Do you need a town centre premises to ensure that you and your staff can reach it easily, or is it feasible for you to opt for a (potentially cheaper) out of town solution? You should also think about whether or not you intend to use an agent. The commercial property market can be daunting for a first-timer, and an agent may be able to help you navigate it.

Avoid long-term leases

It is all too common for businesses of any size to get trapped into unsuitable long-term leases - but this risk is even more dangerous for small firms. As your business grows and changes it is important that you have the freedom to move spaces. Do not assume that a long-term lease is the only option for you. There is a range of potential lease arrangements, many of which are likely to be a better choice for a growing business. Read more about negotiating your first office lease.

Serviced or conventional?

Serviced offices can help to take much of the stress out of occupying your first premises. Depending on the level of service offered, in an arrangement of this sort you may be able to leave things like security, maintenance, and even cleaning to someone else. This can help to ensure that you have the time you need to get on with running your business.

On the other hand, though, leasing a conventional space accords you a higher degree of freedom. In these arrangements you will be able to design your office from scratch - but, of course, you should remember that this will come with its own costs.

Think about scaling

As your business grows, it is important that your office can grow with you. We have already discussed the dangers of long-term leases; these can hook you into arrangements that only suit your business in the short-term. Many businesses, however, may be able to grow in their existing space. If you opt for a serviced office arrangement you may be able to add extra desks to accommodate the new staff that you may take on. Check in advance to see whether or not this will be possible.

Get legal advice

If you are leasing a conventional office space, it is vital that you seek legal advice before signing. These can be deceptively complex documents, and a wrong decision can have a disastrous financial impact for years to come. Serviced office agreements tend to be simpler, but you should still take independent advice if you are in any doubt.

Consider the alternatives

Finally, you should remember that working from home and hiring your own office are not the only two options available. Instead, you might like to consider co-working spaces or hot desking. In these arrangements you hire a desk (or a number of desks) in a shared office space, or you pay for the right to use a desk (which is not assigned to you all the time). Co-working spaces can be a great means by which sole traders can get out of the house without taking on such a significant financial burden. Look out for interviews with the managers of some key co-working spaces on Simply Business very soon.