Garlik is in the process of moving office. After an extensive review of the options, we are planning to move from one part of Richmond (10 minutes from where the Chief Exec i.e. me, lives) to another part of Richmond (also 10 minutes….).
Property, leases and sorting out offices for your start-up are things that they don’t teach you at business school. You learn on the job but if you make mistakes it can be very costly indeed. I have seen businesses fold because they have ended up lumbered with a bad lease.
The key is flexibility. That’s why it is best to spend the first few years of your life as a start up in serviced offices. You will pay a premium, but you can scale up and down at the drop of a hat.
There was a time that companies in serviced offices were not taken seriously but those days are long gone. No-one, clients or staff, with any sense cares anymore.
Then when you feel ready, you move to your first office on a longer term lease. The most important things are (a) get a lawyer who really understands commercial leases to advise you (it will cost you £5k and you probably think you can sort it out yourself with your wife’s brother-in-law’s cousin who did a bit of law once, more fool you) and (b) get a 2 or 3 year break-clause. Make sure you have the flexibilty of that early break-clause and don’t trade off a tempting rent-free period for an early break-clause.
Also think through what happens if your team suddenly expands by 50%. Can you still fit in the office? You don’t want to have to move that quickly. Or if you shrink by 50% – can you sublet to help cover costs?
If it all looks good then go for it. Get yourself a real office, a home for your start-up that you can call your own. But make sure its still 10 minutes from where the Chief Executive lives!