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Leaving the Nest: What to Look for in Your First Office
Growing out of your home office and into a separate space is an exciting time for a startup; however, there is also a lot to consider. First, find an experienced commercial real estate broker who will know what to look for. Interview your broker to be sure that he or she is really detail oriented and is capable of finding what you need.
While your dreams for your company are expansive, your needs at the moment probably aren’t. Be realistic when choosing the size of your space and account for what you really need right now. A space that is too large for your needs will only eat up more revenues in overhead costs. Take this measurement and find places that match the size, and from there you can narrow down the layout that suits your needs best. Just like when looking for an apartment or home, consider the age and stability of the infrastructure, the condition of the HVAC system, and other hidden details.
What you find may not be perfect, but luckily there are tenant improvements (or TI). If the space requires extensive renovations, ask the landlord directly what he or she will contribute to TI. Landlords are usually open to contributing to TI if you sign a long-term lease; a one or two-year contract probably won’t do it.
A broker may help you find a place, but they are not the right professionals to help you sign the lease. The lease is very important and can mean a lot to your company, in a good way or a bad way. Hire a real estate lawyer to review the lease and guide you through the process. When reviewing the lease, be sure to pay attention to additional fees other than the price per square foot. Additional fees can be utilities and common area maintenance (CAM) fees, which include things like hallway and restroom cleaning, snow removal, landscape maintenance, and more. Ask the landlord if you’re not sure about a cost or fee.
Discuss a flexible contract with your landlord because you are a growing company. Ask to sign a one-year lease with a three-year or five-year option. Just like your infant outgrows an outfit every week, and so does a bourgeoning young company.
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