My assumption, and we all know how that goes…is you have picked a good idea or product for a new startup and have vetted it out. There are many good books and articles to help on this subject like, Disciplined Entrepreneur by Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at MIT. In the following article, I would like to provide a few practical details on finding a site for your new vetted business.
What type of site will you need for your new business will depend on the type of business. Perhaps you will just need office space for yourself or small team. If you are manufacturing a product, you will need larger warehouse space. I recommend connecting with a good commercial real estate agent. Initially, for my small manufacturing business, I just roamed the neighborhoods of Ventura, looking for vacancy signs. I missed out on sites that were soon to come available or just didn’t have a sign. The agents will know all the available sites based on your requirements and can also easily talk with other agents about slight modifications that can be made to make a property more adaptable to you. The property I finally leased for my small business didn’t initially have a pull-up door that I needed. However, the landlord had plans to add one already and the agent found this out.
I also found that the landlord likes to understand your business before they will lease to you. Make it easy for them by having a general business overview to give them of your new business. In my experience, my business was unique and most landlords couldn’t understand it without some further details. Often this didn’t help either….Of all the issues I had in opening my small business, getting a landlord to lease to me was my biggest obstacle.
Talk to your Cities’ Economic Development Group, and explain what your business is about. They might recommend a local incubator location that can provide low cost rent for startups. This environment is also good for connecting with other startup founders and gaining more mentors. I’ve talked about the importance of getting mentors in a previous article. (https://www.pacbiztimes.com/2018/04/06/having-a-mentor-will-help-your-business-succeed/)
Plan for growth in choosing a location. If you believe in this business, then you believe it will grow. Think about what space you will need in a five year plan. Be sure your looking at utilities and what comes with the space. Does your requirement for electricity to run your equipment, exceed what comes in to the building? This can be upgraded, however at a price.
How about internet speed? Some Cities are faster than other parts.
Create a general diagram of what space requirements you believe you will need for your startup. Use real measurements for desk sizes, filing cabinets, etc. These measurements can then be added to any new site you look at. Most will have diagrams or you could create one quickly yourself. Consider workflow, to allow the business to run efficiently. This is critical in manufacturing businesses. One workflow bottleneck will cause hours of frustration.
What leasehold improvements will you need? For example, office configuration change or basic paint and decor. If these things will benefit the landlord, talk to them about paying for some or all of these improvements. A landlord wants to rent his building to a successful business. In the long view, this will make his life easier and more profitable. Convince him you are a successful business and he may go out of his way to rent to you. My small startup was so unique it was very difficult to convince landlords. However years later, I did get to talk with one of those unit managers that rejected us, and they said they wish they had rented to me….
Bill Riegler is a Sales and Marketing Consultant and volunteer mentor with non-profit,
SCORE Ventura County. Bill@SandMguru.com