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You’ve decided you do want to have a bricks and mortar location but you’re not sure where to start. We’ve outlined the foundation for your business property. 

1. Make a specification for your ideal premises considering internal and external factors. 

You may not find a location/building that ticks all the boxes but aiming for as close as possible is the best place to start. This will also make it clear for you what is non-negotiable and what can be compromised on or worked towards in the future. Factors to include in your specification should be 
 
Location. Evaluate this not only in terms of your customers but also employees and suppliers. 
Transport & parking facilities. Again, this should be considered in terms of customer access and employee. 
Requirements of the building to carry out business. Depending on the nature of your business you will need the building to work in different ways, think very practically about the space, power points, equipment, ventilation etc when making this list. 
Legal issues. If the building already has permissions for your businesses ‘user class’ moving in and alterations you may want to make in the future will be less complicated. 
Type of tenure. Your options are license, lease or buy. We will go into further detail on these below. 
As you would when looking for a place to live, set you maximum price, including taxes and fees and stick to it. 

2. Should I license, lease or buy my work premises? 

As with everything this very much depends on the nature of your business and your plans for the future. 
 
Licenses are short-term contracts (usually 2 years), can be in serviced buildings, have subsides from local authorities to encourage small businesses to set up and have no legal fees. However, you may have to share your space or be asked to leave at short notice by the landlord. Also these spaces will probably not be suitable for a food or manufacturing business. If you just need office space and you’re just starting out this is a good place to start. 
Leases are longer term commitments (3-25 years), more freedom to adapt the space, the landlord is liable for external building repairs and more types of properties on the market to choose from. You may want to build break clauses into the contract just in case and agree with the landlord on alterations you want to make before signing on the dotted line. You may also be required to return the property to its original state on vacating, e.g. removing equipment, putting walls back in if removed etc. 
Buy freehold. Owning your own premises is more unusual but can be a great asset and mean you have a permanent location under your control. This is a more expensive option though with most commercial property mortgages requiring a 30% deposit. 

3. Where do I look for commercial premises? 

You can go the traditional route and get an estate agent that specialises in commercial property however it may be wise to consider some alternatives. Use your personal contacts in an area and business advisors/mentors to find out about potential venues. Also check with your local authority, they will rent business space as well as domestic housing. With this same idea approach local organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce in your area who may be able to advise and help you find the perfect location. Finally, you can engage a chartered surveyor to carry out the search for you. Unlike estate agents who operate on the landlords’ behalf, a chartered surveyor will have your best interests as the priority. They will know the market well, present a short-list to save time and be experienced negotiators. 

Resources for finding the perfect property 

Search for a surveyor at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) here
 
Get thinking about the future, find out more at the Planning Portal about planning permission here
 
 
Contact your local authority about the type of property you need and see what financial help is available to you. 
 
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