So your company is doing well and you've decided it's time to expand your home-based business beyond the confines of your home office and move it to its first physical office location. It's a time of excitement and a time of growth, and let's face it, we all want our first "real office" to be a representation of the success we believe our company to be. If you don't enter the process with a well-budgeted plan, you could quickly find yourself letting your "wants" take control and finding a much bigger dent in your proverbial business wallet than you ever meant to make. Here are some budgeting tips to help you avoid that situation.
Don't plan for expansion before you need it
Most leases for office space require anywhere from a two- to five-year commitment. However, if your goal is to continue expanding (and quickly), you might very well outgrow the space before your lease is up. If you see your company expanding rapidly, take that into account before signing a lease.
When we leased our first office, we did so from a larger building that had plenty of other vacant units. The landlords didn't care which unit we were in, providing we were in one of their units. When we outgrew our initial office space, we were able to rent a larger unit within the same building without "breaking" the original lease agreement (though we were required to add an additional year to the new unit lease).
If you're unable to find a space you like that falls into the above scenario, you might want to consider renting a larger office and subleasing some of your office space until you need it. However, be sure the space you are getting into allows for subleasing. You can then either allow your subtenants to go month-to-month or have them commit to short time frames so that if and when you need to expand, you can easily do so.
Choose your service providers wisely
I'd highly recommend that before you choose an Internet or phone provider, you not only look into all available pricing and plans from every potential provider, but that you also ask the other tenants around your new space what they'd recommend. Most communication utility companies require businesses to sign long-term contracts for service with pricey early cancellation fees.
When my friend's business opened a new office space three years ago, they responsibly chose the best-priced Internet option for their needs. However, they quickly found out that their chosen Internet provider had extremely slow speeds within their building. Their fellow tenants had already figured this out. Some preemptive investigation could have saved them loss of productivity as well as the several thousand dollar early cancellation fee they ended up having to pay when they switched to a more expensive but much more reliable provider.
Buy used when you can—when you can't, haggle
You likely didn't buy brand new furniture for every room in your first home the day you moved in; there's no reason you should do it for your first office either.
A quick search of your local classifieds will likely yield used conference tables, chairs, desks, printer stands, reception furniture and even fake plants and other office decor for sale at 50 percent or more off the original retail price. Expand your search to nearby cities and towns, and you'll be able to find an even wider selection to choose from.
But not everything can be bought used, depending on the type of business you run. I run Internet-based companies, and as a result, the two office supplies we never skimp on are computers and desk chairs. But if you're buying several of the items you need at once, you can often haggle, even with large chain stores, for discounts. Most recently I went to buy 10 flat screen monitors from a large chain. I was able to haggle them into throwing in the additional cables we needed to connect those monitors to our systems for free. Buying items in bulk can greatly help you leverage getting discounts.
Rae Hoffman-Dolan aka "Sugarrae" is a serial entrepreneur and well-known SEO consultant specializing in SEO audit services and link building strategies. She is also the Co-Owner and SVP of Marketing for Speedy Incorporation.
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