Starting a business in your garage is often an exciting and cost-effective way to launch your entrepreneurial journey. However, as your business grows and evolves, you may find that your humble garage can no longer accommodate your needs. This is a sign of success, but it also signals the need for expansion. Moving into a commercial building is a significant step that can be both daunting and rewarding. In this article, we explore the process of finding appropriate commercial space and what it entails to make a smooth transition from the garage to a dedicated business location.
1. Assess Your Needs:
Before you start the process of finding a commercial space, it’s essential to assess your business’s specific needs. Consider factors such as:
Calculate the square footage required for your operations, including office space, storage, specialized equipment, and future growth needs.
Determine whether you need to be in a specific geographic area for customer accessibility or logistical reasons. This may also be a very personal decision based on the location of your residence, family, etc.
Establish a realistic budget for your new commercial space, including rent, utilities, and any necessary renovations.
Helpful hint: Architects are great at helping clients determine just how much space they need. Joining local business associations and industry groups can also connect you to growth coaches and like-minded entrepreneurs. Local chamber of commerce groups are another great resource.
2. Consult Your Banking Partner
It’s likely that expanding your business will require a loan. Utilize your existing banking relationships or discuss your needs with multiple bankers to find the one that will best accommodate your needs.
3. Consult a Real Estate Professional
Once you have a clear understanding of your needs and budget, it’s time to consult a real estate professional. A commercial real estate agent, also known as a broker, can be an asset in finding the right space for your business. They have local market knowledge, access to listings, and negotiation skills that can help you secure the best deal.
Note that brokers often specialize in certain types of real estate and can be on either the tenant representative side, or the landlord side. For example, some brokers may focus solely on urban office spaces while others might operate only in the industrial sector. Evaluate what category your business falls in to help determine which type of broker will be best for you.
Helpful hint: Architects and general contractors often know which brokers are best at finding specific property types. Ask them for referrals to help you find the optimal fit!
4. Define Your Business Requirements
When working with a real estate broker, provide them with detailed information about your business requirements. This includes your space needs, desired location, and any specific amenities or features you require. Be open to their suggestions and consider various options before making a decision.
Utilize your broker to help you understand the various types of lease agreements that exist. Deals on commercial spaces are always a negotiation, so being informed about what your options are can be pivotal in ensuring you can afford the space.
5. Research Zoning Regulations
Commercial properties are subject to zoning regulations and building codes, which dictate how they can be used. Ensure that the properties you are considering are zoned for your specific type of business. Zoning laws vary by location, so it’s crucial to research and understand the local regulations. Find a contractor or architect who is familiar with your business’s specific regulations. This may include unique fire, storage, and manufacturing codes that could effect whether or not you can produce your product in specific buildings or locations.
6. Budget for Additional Costs
Moving into a commercial building involves more than just rent. You’ll also need to budget for additional costs such as security deposits, utilities, insurance, permits, and potential renovations or build-outs to customize the space for your business. Factor in these expenses to avoid any financial surprises.
Determining construction costs early on is critical for any business, and reputable general contractors can help you with early construction budgets even before a final space has been determined. This can also be helpful when working through lease negotiations.
7. Negotiate Lease Terms
Once you’ve identified a suitable commercial space, work with your real estate broker to negotiate lease terms. Be prepared to discuss a variety of items during this process, including:
- Lease duration and structure
- Rent increases – timing and escalation
- Maintenance responsibilities
- Tenant improvement allowances
- Growth opportunities
- Any other terms that are important to your business
It’s likely that a real estate attorney should be consulted to review the lease terms and ensure you are well represented in this documentation.
8. Complete Construction and Plan for the Move
As you finalize the lease agreement, start planning the logistics of your move, starting with the construction process. If you have involved a general contractor in your early planning, now is the time to complete pricing and finalize contractual agreements for all necessary work. Your general contractor should specialize in the type of work you need, whether it’s large or small. In addition to construction, preparing for your move will require coordinating equipment relocation, inventory management, and onboarding added personnel. Develop a timeline and budget for the move to ensure a smooth transition.
9. Consider Legal and Regulatory Requirements
Obtain permits or licenses to operate in a commercial space in your particular jurisdiction. Consult with local authorities and legal experts to ensure you are in compliance with all necessary regulations. This may involve interacting with the city, county, state or even federal jurisdictions.
10. Promote Your Move
Don’t forget to let your customers and clients know about your move! Update your contact information, website, and social media profiles to reflect your new location. Consider hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony, open house or launch event to introduce your business to the community.
Moving your business out of the garage and into a commercial building is an exciting milestone that signifies growth and success. However, it requires careful planning, research, and collaboration with professionals who can help you navigate the process. By assessing your needs, consulting experts, and taking the necessary steps, you can ensure a smooth transition and set your business on a path to even greater achievements in its new commercial space.
If you’re ready to expand your space, get in touch with our teams. We can help connect you to the right people and start the preconstruction process to help you determine your potential costs.