Forest Software

Web, SEO and IT & Business Advice for the Smaller Business

Office Types for New and Small Businesses

Starting a new business can be an exciting, but stressful time. In the early stages there are many business decisions you will have to make such as the type of business, getting business insurance etc, but one decision that is critical you get right is finding the best premise for your new business. It is very easy to get caught up with the excitement of starting up your new business and rush into signing a lease for your first office without stopping to think about what the long-term consequences will be.

It is a fact that different type of office spaces suit different businesses. Working from home can be a good option, particularly if all you need is small office space, but running an engineering firm from your front room is something that is just not feasible.

Cost is probably going to be the biggest influence on your decision at this early stage, but it’s important to take the time to get your decision right. The first thing to consider is what type of office space you require.

Working from home

If you have the choice, working from home may be a much better option than renting or buying business premises. It will allow you to keep your initial start up costs to a minimum, run a cheaper operation and provide a better working environment, but there are some other issues you may need to consider.

You should check that your mortgage and house insurance do not stop you from working at home. You should also check that there are no restrictions in your house deeds (or lease if you are renting) and that the local council do not mind. Often there are no objections if you only get the occassional visitor to your home office, but if you were getting people coming to the office many times a day all week the local authority and your home contents insurer may object.

Another major problem is that many people working from home tend to work much longer hours as they find it very difficult to switch off at the end of the working day and shut the door on the work. Using your home telephone number for business calls means that you could be receiving calls in the evenings and the weekend when you want a bit of peace and quiet (consider a second telephone line reserved for business use - it's also easier for accounting purposes). Maintaining a professional business image whilst conducting a meeting with a customer in your front room with children or dogs around can also be difficult.

It can be better to have a spare room set aside as an office (or even as some people that I know have done, to convert a garage or garden workshop into an office - again you will need to check with your local council).

Virtual Offices

A virtual office will provide you with an office presence without having to physically lease office space.

A virtual office package will usually provide your business with the use of a business address, personalised telephone answering, post handling and mail forwarding and even in some cases, the use of private offices and meeting rooms on an ad hoc basis.

Using the services of a virtual office solution on a ‘pay as you use’ basis, such as using a personalised answering service or a virtual receptionist might be a cheaper and less risky option to consider before investing in more permanent office arrangements.

There are many providers of virtual offices, we would suggest Need More Time who offer a highly personal, flexible service which meets the requirements of each of their clients individually. An alternative good source of companies in the UK can be the Exchange and Mart, talking to other small businesses may also result in some good recommendations.

Serviced Offices

Serviced offices are extremely attractive to new start-ups as a first office and also appeal to companies that want flexibility in their office accommodation. Whether you need to move in for a day, a month or even a year, many serviced offices can be leased on a short-term basis and as there is no capital expenditure required, it’s a low risk arrangement for your business.

Not only do most serviced offices provide fully equipped furnished offices, ‘hot desks’ and meeting rooms, but they may also provide a wide range of secretarial and support services in sought-after locations in city centres and key business districts, such as Sheffield, across the country. This can give your business a prestigious city centre address at a reasonable cost.

Costs are usually inclusive of all building, heating and lighting, reception, security, maintenance, redecoration, refurbishment and cleaning charges thus allowing you to budget accordingly.

In addition, by using a serviced office, your new business will also benefit from access to better communications technology than you could probably afford as a start up business. When your business grows the office may often be easily expanded by taking over extra office space as you take on more staff and thus effectively managing change within your business as and when it occurs.

There are several online serviced office suppliers who cover the UK or specialise in office space in London or even places such as Felixstowe and can help you find the office space you may be looking for whether it is Canary Wharf office space or office space elsewhere in London.

Conventional Office Space

The final type of business premises you might want to consider is a conventional office solution. If your office needs to accommodate 10 or more employees and you are fairly certain of your business's likely growth and income over the first few years, then renting a leased office might be the best solution.

Whilst it is likely to be a major financial commitment for any small business, and a decision your should make having taken professional advice, conventional office space will give you a more competitive cost per desk rate for larger requirements and the opportunity to customise your office space to match your business’s corporate image by displaying your logo's, having the right colours in the office etc. You should also remember that if you are leasing an office there will be start up costs (for furniture for example - where are your staff going to sit and what on?)

Finding the right building and arranging conventional leased office space can be a prolonged task. To help find the right building, it is wise to appoint an specialist agent to assist in your search and negotiate the main terms of your lease. Unlike a serviced office, where all the set-up and ongoing costs are rolled into one monthly charge, other running costs must be considered such as business rates, service charges, utility charges, and buildings insurance.

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