Points to Ponder: Space, Relocation, Tips on Moving
How Much Space?
Newer business owners may have greater difficulty estimating space requirements than their more experienced counterparts, a real sticking point when one has committed to a too large or too small office. Leasing, rather than buying, makes rectifying the situation much easier.
Either way, one leading property management company suggests this rule of thumb when estimating the size space you'll need: Figure on 175-250 usable square feet of office space per occupant. Of course, this can vary considerably, depending on the type and style of the business. Here are more helpful pointers:
- Typical "presidential" offices range from 150-400 square feet.
- Secretarial and administrative space ranges from 60-110 square feet.
- Conference rooms should allow 25-30 square feet per person for a traditional conference room arrangement. In a classroom (or theatre) style setup, estimate 15 square feet per person.
- Your reception area should accommodate a receptionist, as well as the average number of people expected at any given time. If you routinely will have groups of 6-9 people arriving and waiting in your reception area, make sure you have at least 300 square feet. For smaller groups of 3-5, figure at least 200 square feet.
- Do not forget other space requirements, like filing areas, library space, break rooms, mail rooms and general storage.
- Check out the office space calculator at Office Finder, www.officefinder.com/space_info.html.
Consider these points when choosing between an office with an open-space floor plan and one designed for privacy:
- If yours is a creative environment where teamwork is important, you may want open areas to collaborate without disturbing others.
- If your employees are involved in phone negotiations, research study and other high-concentration tasks, private offices or cubicles may be more workable.
- Include a conference/hospitality area in your plans if you hold frequent staff or client meetings.
Opening your business in the town where you live makes the most sense on the surface, but this isn't always possible. If you decide a move to another city, county or state is in your best interest, think about these factors:
- Income taxes and sales taxes vary greatly from state to state. If, for example, you live close to a state line, and you can determine that it would be more profitable tax-wise for your business to operate in the neighboring state, why not set up shop there? The same goes for city and county fees, such as property, occupation and wage taxes. It may be a lot cheaper to run operations across county lines.
- A neighboring city may be friendlier to the type of business you are opening. Consider any variation in the cost of rent and availability of labor as you compare neighboring cites.
- Location is also important as you explore available government economic incentives. Investigate local and state development plans offering programs for qualified new businesses. If you open a business within certain areas of town, for example, you may be eligible for a number of benefits including deferral of assessed property value, grants and even free marketing materials.
- Examine the types of businesses that would be located adjacent to yours. Would their patrons frequent your business and vice versa? How accessible is the property to customers? What is the parking situation? Is it in a safe part of town? What does the traffic look like? What would your commute look like?
Tips on Moving
When it comes time to physically move your office, professionals recommend you plan ahead and create a checklist of the vendors you'll work with (i.e., basic utilities, computer installers, flooring company, etc.) and the tasks you need to complete (i.e., notifying existing clients of your upcoming move and having your mail forwarded).
If you find you've bitten off more than you can chew, even for short-distance relocation, don't hesitate to contact a professional moving company. Most small offices will require about three months of preparation for a move.