Premises and location
FEB can provide advice on all aspects of starting a business in the Belfast area – not only the finance and tax issues. Here are some key points to consider regarding premises and location...
Finding the right premises for your business is a crucial part of your business strategy. Although your specific requirements will depend on the nature of your business, there are a number of key factors which need to be taken into account when choosing your premises.
Working from home
By necessity, many small business owners start with an office which is based in their home, or in a nearby workshop or garage. This arrangement has its own pros and cons.
Location and access
Think about how your business generates and serves its customers: do you rely on people passing by your premises, or are your clients prepared to make a journey to access your goods or services? This will have an impact on where your premises need to be situated.
You should also look into the following issues:
- Staff availability - how easy will it be to find suitably qualified personnel in your proposed locality?
- Transport link and access - will clients, staff and suppliers have easy access to your offices? Could you be affected by a congestion charge?
Planning for the future
When it comes to setting up your own business premises, size matters. While you do not want to spend any more on a property than is necessary, you should make sure that the premises you choose will allow for future expansion of the firm. Relocating an existing business can be expensive and time-consuming, so where possible it's best to build in some flexibility in the early years.
Cost is a principal concern for the small business owner, and it is imperative that you set a budget which covers both the one-off and ongoing costs.
This should include the cost of the move itself, making any alternations to the building, and purchasing new equipment, as well as paying the rent or mortgage, business rates, utility bills, insurance premiums, and so on.
When leasing a property, you will be responsible for paying rent, business rates, and other costs such as maintenance and services. It is therefore vital that you have in place a lease which clearly states the responsibilities of yourself and your landlord.
A building valuation and survey are also essential.
Lease agreements are usually complex, and can involve long-term commitments, and you should consult a legal adviser as well as a surveyor or broker for advice.
Renting serviced office space is an increasingly popular option. The arrangement is usually made on a short-term basis, but it can also be a long-term option.
The key advantages of serviced offices are more predictable costs, and a lower level of commitment. This allows you to give your business a 'trial period' of operation without outlaying a substantial commitment. Serviced offices may also include a range of services such as furnishings, kitchen, technical facilities, reception, cleaning and so on.
Buying your own premises
Buying a property outright can save on rental costs. However, most business owners will have to borrow money in order to buy the property, in which case it is important to factor in the interest that will be payable on the loan.
Building your own premises
You may also choose to design and build your own office space. Again, cost would be an important implication here, and you would need to consult a qualified professional and obtain the relevant planning permission.
If you are a start-up in the Belfast area and would like to discuss any issue, contact FEB.