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Tips when considering your first office when you are a startup

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by Startacus Admin

Content written by Steve Bern of Southcourt Property Services Ltd. Cheers Steve!

"Getting your start up off the ground takes courage, commitment and guts. You’ve already got loads to think about in your start-up activities from creative to finance to accounts to marketing.  The kids are home early, the dog’s barking and the neighbour’s having an extension done and you can’t hear yourself think!  Ahhhhhhhh!!!!

You decide it’s time to ditch the daytime home working and get an office.  Somewhere you can concentrate, be productive, and get things done!

To help out, we’ve put together some really useful tips on what to consider when you’re starting up and considering getting an office, all based on our own experience and several years of helping hundreds of our clients with this step in their business development.

office space for your startup

For most new businesses it comes down to a trade-off between four things:

(1)   Cost

(2)   Size

(3)   Convenience

(4)   Facilities

Every business is different, but if you get these four elements right for your business, you’ll find a flexible solution that feels right, and serves your needs perfectly.  Choose carefully and you won’t be moving every few months, which will mean you focus on building your business.

What can you afford, and how do the costs break down?

Do you have funding from an organisation, loans, grants etc? If so you’ll have a pretty good idea of your finances and what you can afford because you’ll be keeping accounts. If you’re starting off from savings, redundancy or a gift, then you might be winging it a little more. Either way you’ll know whether you can spend £200/month or £2000 on an office. Obviously that’s your call as the business owner so think carefully, study your accounts, and don’t forget the other business expenses such as advertising, marketing, IT and don't forget the coffee machine!

What’s your budget, do you even have a budget? From the cost perspective, you probably can’t afford a Mayfair serviced office in Central London, but even in the burbs a good but small serviced office can set you back £1000 per month. For that you might only cram two or three people in. An older building, perhaps privately run (and therefore probably negotiable) would be cheaper, but you generally get what you pay for.  Thin partition walls and you could end up listening to the guy next door, blabbing on the phone all day, and back to where you started.

your first office for your startup

What size office do you need, and will you grow out of it?

Grab a pencil and paper and sketch out what you think you need over the next 12 months.  Draw a big box, put yourself in it in your normal workspace and then consider what your business actually does versus what it needs in terms of space. Draw everything inside the box that you need to run your business, including general equipment, technology, not forgetting to include space for entertaining clients, space for collaborators and inevitably, space for furniture.  Do you need a shopfront? If so, draw that on one side of the box.  Do you need a studio, or a reception area, or a demo area?  Draw it. Whatever you need, put it in the box, then label everything.  Now you’ve got a sketch planned out, this forms your starting position for your search.   Leave it overnight, then review the next morning.  Pick it up again the next morning, and rub out the things you don’t really need.

How important to you is convenience?

Getting your business underway takes energy and enthusiasm, so to stay focussed you want to be relaxed and comfortable, as well as connected. Just because you find an office for half the price, it doesn’t mean that it’s worth sacrificing an hour each day driving to your new “office”. Be sensible when you decide to trade location for price. It's not only what is inside your office that counts but also the location of your business can have a significant role to play in your success.  Sure, it depends on the nature of your business, but take for example a creative tech start-up, this may benefit from a surrounding neighbourhood where talent can be found face to face as opposed to fishing for it on line.

choosing your first office

What types of office are there?

Serviced - If you’re considering a serviced office, it’s easy, just a single number, perhaps £1000 per month for a small one outside London. They usually come in two flavours, shared office areas, or separate rooms.  Is this the most cost-effective option for you though, and does it fit the bill in terms of your desired image, does it meet your needs in terms of space vs. cost?  Remember your competitors might be down the hallway, but then again so might a new team of collaborators – opportunities to exchange views and share ideas if you go for an open plan setting.

Leased - If you’re considering taking a lease, you need to explore different challenges. Apart from the cost of the rent, you’ll have recurring costs such as business rates, service charges, utilities such as gas, water, electricity. The rent is on average 60-70% of the total costs when everything is totalled up. What kind of fit-out do you need? How many desks, chairs, kitchens, toilets? Don’t forget that rent and services charges will usually be subject to VAT as well.

Innovation Hubs - These spaces are becoming very popular for start ups, especially those where flexibility, collaboration space and a creative space are key. You’ll find businesses across the tech and creative industries are rethinking the concept of workplace. As the line between physical and digital blurs we are able to work from anywhere at any time. Rethinking the notion of workplace goes beyond knocking down cubicle walls or updating furniture: it focuses on sophisticated technology that, for example, can enable collaboration and networking between a number of agencies or branches. 


Do you need to answer calls in a professional way, with a quiet background ensuring you present a professional image?  In this case don’t go for a shared space, you need a quite room.  Does the office network handle VOIP communications?  If not, you’re stuck with your mobile, which won’t look very professional if you’re answering calls.  Modern digital telephony comprises live voice, video and conferencing, integrating email and instant messaging.  Of key importance is the ability to integrate fixed and mobile devices.  Voip telephony offers a cost effective way to increase productivity and manage your business communications.  

Overall, getting an office can be a daunting experience for you if you’re starting out, but finding one doesn’t have to be that hard.  Just ensure that you optimise the four main trade-offs and you’ll be fine."

Content written by Steve Bern of Southcourt Property Services LtdSouthcourt Property are an integrated property company and specialise in helping their clients start new letting and estate agencies, while providing ongoing marketing, business growth and social media support to their clients.

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Published on: 23rd November 2016

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