In honor of Small Business Week, Rightsize has put together some pointers about how to open your first office.
When starting a small business, every decision matters. But few things are as important as creating the right environment for your employees. It starts with hunting for office space, negotiating a lease and then planning for occupancy. Small business owners should take particular care to protect themselves from unforeseen costs, unexpected increases in rental rates and lease clauses that could limit potential growth. Aligning your business with an expert in the field can mitigate some of the risk.
“Consider working with a broker to help you negotiate with the landlord,” advises the Small Business Association. “It is also important to consult a knowledgeable real estate lawyer; they can often recommend the right choice for you and protect your interests as you negotiate your lease through the broker.”
Once the space is selected, it’s time to think about occupancy. The planning process can be more complex than first time business owners would like to believe. Environment impacts overall worker productivity and can hinder long term expansion. This is when an expert can help with those more complex decisions.
“A lot of new business owners are unclear about how to manage growth and function,” says Rightsize Facility Performance account manager Aryn Shaw. “It helps them to consult with an expert about how to create a functional workspace.”
When it comes to furniture procurement and strategy, it’s important to first think about budget. Most small business are careful with their finances, especially during the startup phases. There are ways to furnish office space that looks great, without the expense. Furniture vendors like Rightsize offer Blended Solutions that combine new, used and refurbished office furniture that help business reach a given price point.
After budget, the next step to consider is business strategy. Given that employees are a business’s biggest expense, think about ways to layout the space to make them more productive. Things like workflow and department interaction matter when it comes to a long-term plan. Thinking through details such as which company divisions are going to expand and which will stay more stagnant will help business owners more accurately project for growth.
After strategy, it’s time to think about comfort. Chairs, desk space, privacy and collaborative space all contribute to creating a functional and comfortable work environment, which can seriously impact happiness in the workplace and employee retention. Ergonomic chairs, ones that are designed to reduce back pain after long-term use, can be expensive, but are worth the investment. In fact, making decisions based on visual appeal alone is one of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make, says Shaw. “Things may look pretty, which is great, but how are these decisions going to give you the best chance to make the company grow.”
All of these decisions should play into the overall environment, because office culture is particularly important for employee satisfaction. In an article “Want to Keep Your Best Employees? Do These 5 Things,” the Business News Daily says that great culture is something that should be aggressively pursued. “Paying attention to your workspace is an easy way to impact culture,” says writer Nicole Fallon. “Everything from the colors, artwork, music and layout of furniture will set the tone for the type of behavior you want to foster.”
At the end of the day, opening your first office as a small business owner means making a lot of critical decisions. While the process is manageable, the decisions can impact your business on the long term, so bring in a team of trusted professionals to help manage the process. “Work with someone who can help you dig deep to think about functionality, and to think about the why,” says Shaw.
Rightsize Facility Performance, headquartered in Chicago, IL, is a nationwide office interiors and facilities services firm serving corporate clients in transition. Founded in 2004, Rightsize employs an industry leading “Design/Furnish” approach to ensure seamless workplace transitions and is a single source for interior design, furniture procurement, delivery and installation, asset disposition, facility decommissioning and ancillary project services. Through its Office Furniture Center brand, which includes OfficeFurnitureCenter.com and a 200,000-square-foot showroom, Rightsize also provides a single source for quality workstations, desks, seating, filing, conference and reception furniture.