With Grant Thornton’s recent move to overlook City Hall on Donegall Square West fresh in our minds, the question of what to consider when selecting new business premises is more pertinent than ever. Whether you are an entrepreneur aiming to progress from working at home or an established business looking to expand, the right business premises are key in not only portraying the image of your business, but also creating a productive environment for your workforce. So what are the main factors to consider when deciding on new business premises?
Rent vs Buy
Renting can be an attractive option for businesses in the start-up phase of their development, as it will not require a hefty initial outlay. Whereas, for a business which is more established and may wish to remain in the same location longer term, buying may be a better option. Indeed, many business owners now purchase premises through their pension fund to take advantage of the associated tax breaks and this is something to consider when weighing up your options.
Location, Location, Location
The location of your business is dependent on your customer or client base. For example a retail business will be reliant on customer footfall and require a location with passing traffic. A business which is not customer facing may benefit from a less central, cheaper location. Accessibility will also be a factor to consider when deciding on premises. Transport links and parking are important for both employees and for customers. Finally, the surrounding area will also impact on the image of your business. Location is key – a brand new, high tech building will not make up for an inferior location.
The costs associated with relocating can quickly mount and may seem daunting to a small business owner. Once you have made the decision on whether to rent or buy your premises, additional costs must then be considered. These will include associated professional expenses, including solicitors’ and accountants’ fees, initial fit out costs, stamp duty, ongoing utility and service charges, business rates and insurance. An accountant will be able to assist you in preparing financial projections to evaluate what you can afford.
Your solicitor will be able to advise you on all aspects of the purchase or lease of your new premises. Key aspects to consider are: planning permission requirements for any works you wish to carry out, responsibilities as tenant or landlord, and relevant licences required to operate from the premises. If you are in any doubt, you should always seek legal advice before committing to any premises.