In this modern business landscape of tech start-ups and remote working, new businesses with an actual physical location are becoming rarer. However, that does not for a second mean that purchasing or renting a property for your new business is not a good idea. In fact, depending on what type of business you have, a physical property for a business premises could certainly make a lot of sense.
People definitely still appreciate physical shops, especially when these are catering to a niche market or when they are selling things that are often bought impulsively – like a quick snack or a souvenir item – and which nobody would ever order online and wait to arrive in the post. And can you imagine a private dentist’s surgery without a physical location – or even a therapist’s office?
Indeed, for small businesses just starting out, physical property is sometimes necessary, sometimes desired, and nearly always a valid option. And with so many start-ups being entirely online based, being one of the few within the field to actually have a physical premises could set your business apart from the crowd.
A Sense of Security
And connected to this sense of homely appeal that actually having a physical premises creates, setting up in a physical location can also assure your customers that you have a hands-on approach to their welfare – that they are not just numbers on a screen but in fact real human beings. If you have a physical premises and you are a new start-up, then the chances are you will actually be meeting your customers face to face, which is something that breeds trust.
Businesses that are entirely online-based can also give rise to anxieties about data protection. If every single interaction with a business requires the input of some form of personal data – whether that be a website account with your name or a card number sent over the internet – then the spectre of malicious hackers or data incompetence is never far away. If you have a physical premises, then this impression is not conveyed quite so strongly. You may still be handling customer data of some sort – and you should certainly apply all the usual due diligence such as having a secure company computer network and making use of a data protection consultancy – but there is something about the face-to-face experience that will settle customer nerves in this area.
The Two Main Types of Business Property
So, if you are looking for a physical premises for your new company, then the first thing to consider is what kind you will be buying. These can fall into two main categories – the purpose-built commercial properties, such as offices and shopfronts, and every other type of property that is to play host to your business, even if it not specially built for this function
It might seem like the former of these two property types is the obvious choice (a building needs to be equipped for commerce) but think for a moment about all the businesses you may have encountered that are set up in buildings that used to be residential properties, or which formerly had some other function. We have all heard of quaint shops that resemble front rooms or bars that are set up in former living spaces. Even commercial offices for lawyers and estate agents can be found located in older, non-business-type properties.
Of course, you are going to want to make sure the space is equipped for your needs. If you are setting up a commercial office that requires rows of desks, phones, and computers, then it is unlikely you will be able to create this in an old home. The trick here is to use your best judgment and always consider the appeal (or lack thereof) that a potential property will have for your customers.
How to Buy a Business Property
So, with all of that out of the way, what are the specifics of buying a business property? How is it a different process from searching for a home – even when it might be a former home that you plan to buy? Here are some useful general steps to get you started:
Is the Time Right?
The very first thing you should do is to evaluate if the time is indeed right to get a commercial property. If you can be online based for the time being and purchase later when revenue streams are healthier, then this could prove a better option. Remember, you are not just buying the property, you are also kitting it out for your business, including the commercial office fit out. You cannot compromise on this, so make sure you are able to fund the creation of your new commercial premises.
Use a Commercial Realtor
There are some real estate brokerages that do both, but generally speaking commercial realty is another ball game compared to residential. You might be quite the expert where the workings of your own business are concerned, and you might have a very clear idea of what you need, but it is very unlikely you will have the local market knowledge and connections necessary to facilitate effectively the sale of commercial property. Enlist the professionals, and make sure you have a clear idea of what you will be paying in total.
Narrow the Parameters
The nature of your business will naturally determine what type of property you need, what you can afford and where the property should be located. You should narrow these search fields down as much as possible before taking candidates. To reach your market niche, you need to have a specific type of property in a specific place. You need to know what these are.
Inspect the Property
Before any contract is drawn up, you should inspect the property to ensure that everything you are being told on paper is indeed the case as well as to ensure that nothing has been left out. If there are necessary changes that you require – either to the property or to the price on account of the property – then work these out before agreeing to anything. Always work through your agent.
So, if you can square a potential property with what you need, what you want and who your customers will be, then all that is left to do is to sign the contract. And if you have also satisfied all the tips above, then it is very unlikely you will be let down. Despite how confusing the entire process can be, you can make it fool-proof with a little diligence and professional help.