7 things for startups to consider before they open their first office

Opening your first office is a landmark occasion. Many entrepreneurs consider it a pivotal moment of growth when their ideas become a reality. Establishing yourself in an office space isn’t easy, though, and it can be costly. Here are some things to consider before taking your next steps.

Is now the time?

Moving into an office is a big commitment both in terms of money and emotional investment. Determining whether this is the right time is complex. If your company can no longer physically operate without an office or you need to hire more staff to meet customer demand, then the time for expansion has likely arrived. Along similar lines, if you find that you can’t conduct meetings with clients virtually or that your workforce is spread but needs to communicate in person, an office is the right decision to make. Company profits play their part, too, so if you’re exceeding growth forecasts every quarter, then you’re likely in a favourable position.

Can you hire instead?

That said, hiring an office temporarily is sometimes a better solution. Not only does it allow you to evaluate your needs, but the lesser commitment means that you can always reverse your decision if you need to. Renting an office space in Cardiff represents a substantially smaller financial commitment than moving into one full-time. You’ll quickly learn whether the office is essential or not and be able to make a more informed decision on whether to stay.

Think about the location

There is no one ideal location for an office. This depends entirely on what type of business you’re running and its own unique needs. For example, if you work in retail and shipping, you’ll need to be near good road links. Similarly, if your business primarily sells on the high street, an area with lots of footfall will be necessary. Consider whether clients will frequently need to come into the office, but also how easy it is for your employees to commute there. An office that’s hard to get to and off the beaten track might mean a long commute and a demoralised workforce.

Watch out for hidden costs

Hidden costs are everywhere when you move into a new office for the first time. Contracts, any repairs, and even moving fees all apply and should be factored into your calculations. A quick note about energy and water tariffs. When you move into new premises you’ll be automatically enrolled on the same contracts as the people before you, which are usually more expensive. Run a quick comparison of business energy rates, and you’ll likely find a much cheaper deal that better suits your needs.

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Compare prices for supplies

Kitting out an office Cardiff is sometimes just as costly as securing the premises in the first place! Computers, printers, and telephones all add up, not to mention more basic equipment like office chairs and desks. You can, however, make massive savings simply by comparing prices between stockists. Those savings get even bigger if you buy second-hand or refurbished. Nearly new office equipment usually comes in vastly cheaper than brand new, and some of it will barely have been used. Shop around, compare prices, and you’ll have a fully stocked office in no time, for a fraction of the price.

Go green early

The renewed focus on green practices means that many existing office spaces are now undergoing the laborious and sometimes costly process of converting to green. If this is your first office space, however, you have the unique opportunity to start as you mean to go on. Establishing a paperless office is simple using cloud computing, and you can cut back on energy use by installing thermostats and energy-saving lightbulbs. Some startups go even further by opting for smaller screens and automatic power-down technology.

Leave room to grow

Moving into an office is usually the first step in a period of extended growth. As such, it pays to consider the future. The last thing you want is to move all over again in a year because your business has grown rapidly. Similarly, spending on an office that’s too big doesn’t make sense, costing you capital that could be spent on growth. It’s a difficult balance to strike. Be realistic about your growth expectations and factor them into your decision making process. Profit forecasts and growths reports help, but always give yourself a little headroom.

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Darie Nani
Blogger, developer and business mentor.
Articles: 181

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