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120 days before launch

Securing the right space for your business

Aug 1, 2013

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story-header-120daysYou’re aiming higher than running a business out of your basement and garage, which means it’s time to start looking for the perfect spot to hang your shingle. What kind of space you’ll need is going to depend a lot on your business, since you can’t exactly run a restaurant out of an office tower or a manufacturing business out of a kitchen, but the principles remain more or less the same.

A room of one’s own

The perfect spot
The ideal business location will be easily accessible to both your employees and your customers, but will be dependent on what type of business you’re opening. Restaurants and retail locations tend to be more dependent on foot traffic, while a construction company or office-based firm won’t have many clients coming in unannounced. You’ll want to consider factors like whether the area is accessible by transit, what kind of parking is available and how well your business fits in with those already established in the neighbourhood.

Size matters
If your plan is to open a cozy 40-seat restaurant, then you probably don’t need a lot of space. But if you expect your business to grow, bring on more employees or add new products, well, you’ll probably want to invest in a space where you’ll have room for them.

To have or to hold?
Is it better to lease your commercial space or buy it outright? Well, that depends. If you suspect you’re going to grow quickly, you may be safer leasing a space, so that you can upgrade to a bigger location when you outgrow the old one without the hassle or expense of selling and buying new property. Leasing also tends to be more affordable in high-traffic areas favoured by restaurants and retail outfits. Owning has its own benefits, however: no unexpected rent increases, some tax deductions and potential asset appreciation.

Shake on it
If you’ve decided to lease a commercial space, make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. Go into negotiations with a clear idea of what you absolutely need to have and what you’d like, and make sure you know what’s included in your rent and what you’ll need to pay for separately. If you’re not confident, it might be worth the money in the long run to hire a real estate broker to represent you. If you do hire someone, make sure they’re familiar both with your industry and the area you’re looking to settle in.

Looking good
What your space looks like matters, especially if you have customers or investors you’re hoping to win over. However, for many new business owners, decor tends to slip down the list of priorities, especially when there are so many other expenses. Fortunately, making your business look just as good in person as it does on paper doesn’t have to cost a fortune. A fresh coat of paint will help any business. Restaurants and retail stores can often find quirky decor at reasonable prices by shopping at second-hand stores, estate sales or even eBay. You can also approach local artists to see if they’d be willing to display their art in your workspace. For furniture, consider checking around to see if any of the home stagers in your area have any of their rental furniture up for sale.

Wise design

If you thought all your company needs is a roof and four walls, think again. Office space can be a key factor in success, and your company’s space is what you make of it. Whether you’re in an office or a retail space, design can be used to reflect your company’s goals and philosophy, with artwork and furniture tailored to your business. And there’s a practical element too – the balance between individual and collaborative space is an important consideration at many top companies, and you should pick an office layout that works for you (for example, an open workspace versus individual offices). It all depends on your company culture and what type of environment you’re trying to promote.

Looking for inspiration? Check out the offices of XGen Studios below.

  • Offices Offices “There was quite a discussion about whether we should have a collaborative space for everyone to work in or individual spaces. We eventually decided that for a company like us, it’s too distracting to have everyone in the same room, so we decided on individual spaces where people can customize it to their liking and get together in some of our collaborative spaces when we want to hang out.”
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  • “We wanted the lobby to make an impact when people walked in and to provide, right away, an idea of who we are and what we do. So this wallpaper is made custom by one of our artists. The retro TVs are reminiscent of the NES era which myself and a lot of others who work here grew up with.” “We wanted the lobby to make an impact when people walked in and to provide, right away, an idea of who we are and what we do. So this wallpaper is made custom by one of our artists. The retro TVs are reminiscent of the NES era which myself and a lot of others who work here grew up with.”
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