Renting Office Space for Small Business: a Complete Step-by-Step Guide
The outlook is bright for small businesses in the United States: plans to increase employment, expand, increase inventories, and higher earnings are all projected with confidence by business owners. Part of that growth is directly tied to physical expansion, and renting an office space is one of the first strategic moves made by small businesses.
There are several things to consider when renting an office space for your small business, and the team at Hartman Income REIT has put together this step-by-step guide to get you started. If you fit any of these descriptors, you’ve come to the right place:
- I am a small business owner thinking about renting an office space for the first time.
- I am a small business owner or operator thinking about relocating my office or retail space.
This article will guide you through the process of successfully renting an office space that fits your business needs, work style, and budget. It can be overwhelming doing this for the first time, or doing it all over again, so read on to learn all of the important steps, along with expert tips to make the process easier.
Covered in this article:
- Why Renting an Office Space is Important for Small Businesses
- 5 Steps to Renting an Office Space
- How to Choose the Right Type of Office Space to Rent
- How to Identify the Amount of Office Space You Need
- How to Know Your Ideal Office Location
- How to Find an Office Space to Rent
- How to Negotiate Your Office Space Lease
- Final Tips on Renting Office Space
Want to connect with an expert now? Hartman Income REIT Management is a leading provider of Texas office, retail, and warehouse leasing and management. For more than 38 years, we have helped small business owners in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and the surrounding areas find the right space for their growing businesses. Contact us to learn more.
Why Renting an Office Space is Important for Small Businesses
Renting office space is an integral part of operating a successful small business. Even with the prevalence of remote employees, most workplace operations cannot be replaced by virtual work arrangements. There are several reasons renting an office space is important for your small business, including:
- A professional office space makes it clear to clients, customers, and the community that you are a legitimate business with plans to grow.
- The sole purpose of an office space is to conduct business, which creates a distraction-free environment, especially compared to shared spaces or working from home. When it comes to working from home versus the office, it isn’t always a net positive exchange, and some types of employees are more productive when they have to come into work.
- Offices encourage connection and collaboration. For instance, businesses located in Houston’s Innovation Corridor work alongside other businesses in similar industries, building on innovation and leveraging the synergy of shared efforts. This is a valuable byproduct of leasing office space in a commercial building.
A conference room at 11811 North Freeway in Houston, Texas
Since the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, about 75% of businesses have fully returned to the office. Welcoming employees back to the office is, in many cases, a vote for employee wellbeing. For small businesses that often have lean staff and operate as a tight-knit group, face-to-face interaction is vital to getting work done.
5 Steps to Renting an Office Space
Renting an office space is an important decision, and a big one. It’s important to exercise careful planning, research properties, and engage in the right preparational measures. While it may take a little more time at the beginning, taking the right steps saves time, money, and mitigates the risk of signing a lease for an office space you’re not thrilled to operate in. Ideally, you’ll connect with a commercial leasing agent you can trust, then progress through these five steps.
Step 1: Choose the Right Type of Office Space to Rent
Small business owners may be in multigenerational businesses or starting entrepreneurial endeavors. The type of office space to rent will depend on numerous factors, but most commonly you will choose from one of two categories: a coworking space vs. a traditional office space. Coworking spaces are trendy, and will work for teams that have hybrid arrangements, or for individuals who don’t mind shared spaces or want optimal flexibility. Traditional office spaces offer predictable privacy and amenities that small business owners may prefer. It can be helpful to have your own space, a dedicated desk, control and security, and fewer distractions. If these features are a high priority, a traditional office space or an executive suite option may be the right choice.
A good compromise may be found in BIZSUITES, which offers more affordable rates with shorter lease terms.
As you assess the type of office space to rent for your small business, download our pre-leasing checklist. This will arm you with the right questions to ask, enabling you to find a space that meets all of your criteria.
If you’re not sure whether you should rent an office or retail space, read our guide on Renting Retail vs. Office Space.
Step 2: Decide How Much Office Space You Need
It is vitally important to know your office space requirements. These will vary based on the kind of small business you run. You need to factor in both what you need now and what you need to accommodate growth plans for the future.
Generally, office spaces should allocate about 70 square feet per person. Additional factors to consider include the following:
- Do your employees need larger desks or have additional furnishings or equipment?
- What type of collaboration needs to happen, and how often?
- What is the flow of a typical day: do all employees work the same hours at the same time? What are break schedules and meetings like?
We often encounter clients who are seeking a new office space because they’ve outgrown their current office. That’s a great problem to have, but also one that you shouldn’t repeat. Think through what you need the space to do for you, both today and as you achieve your growth goals.
Our office space calculator is a valuable tool that can help you land on the right numbers, taking into account everything you need.
As you make these all-important calculations, you’ll want to understand the estimated rates per square foot for office spaces in your area. This will help you understand both what you need and how much it is likely to cost.
Step 3: Know Your Ideal Office Location
Few things are as important in real estate as location, and finding an office space is no different. For small businesses, you can take a lot of factors into consideration:
- Where do most of your employees live, and what kind of commute will they want/need?
- Which areas are growing residentially, and where would it be most strategic to locate for the convenience of future employees?
- Which areas are currently growing and would offer you the right kind of foot traffic or visibility?
- What types of businesses would it be strategic to be located near? This may be an important point for a retail location, for example, as surrounding businesses directly impact revenue potential.
- What major roads or companies would you like to be near?
- Would you like to be located in a more urban or suburban area?
In a recent Bisnow panel, Hartman Income REIT EVP of Leasing Richard Maloof shared insights on the great debate on urban vs. suburban locations: “Our people are happy with a tenant lounge and a security guard: they want a safe place to go to work and don’t want to be stuck in traffic. It’s the ease of use. Companies that are small enough are happy with the basic functions of the building. We provide minimal, clean, cool, safe facilities and tenants are happy.”
As you assess where you want to be, you will also narrow down your options for buildings and amenities, enabling you and your team to choose a small business location in an ideal spot.
Step 4: Find an Office Space to Rent
All of the preliminary steps of choosing the right type of space to rent, calculating office space needs, then narrowing down your location will lead to a first key action: finding an office space to rent. Businesses that want to rent an office space can use commercial real estate listing websites or contact a professional commercial leasing agent. The first option will give you plenty of options with moderately accurate information. The second option provides you with a partner and consultant, as well as someone to vet properties in advance. Commercial leasing agents are uniquely equipped with insider knowledge of your market, going rates for offices, and what small businesses need to succeed in your area.
A BIZSUITES tenant lounge at Energy Plaza I & II in San Antonio, Texas
Once you have a shortlist of properties that meet your criteria, go check them out. When touring an office building, there are things that small business owners and operators should look for:
- What are the building’s features and amenities?
- How well is the property being managed?
- What are the current tenant reviews?
At Hartman, this is where we shine. We’ve dedicated years of effort to creating what we call white glove service, and providing what tenants really want. No two tenants are alike, and small business owners have unique needs to excel in the marketplace. Our consultative approach ensures you never miss the right opportunity and are never left second-guessing.
This guidance is invaluable. For instance, did you know that Class B properties can still offer Class A amenities, but are more affordable? To hear more, watch this video:
Learn more about The Difference Between Class A & B Buildings.
Step 5: Negotiate Your Office Space Lease
Once you’ve found the right small business office space, it will be time to navigate the paperwork. Here, too, a commercial real estate professional can be an immense help. There are a few steps to negotiating a commercial lease:
- Review the lease with legal counsel
- Draft and submit counterterms
- Negotiate until you reach a point of agreement
It will be important to decide in advance what is a deal killer and what is a preference. This will help you understand how staunch to be in your requests or negotiations.
For a deeper dive on this important topic, read our article on Negotiating a Commercial Lease.
Final Tips on Renting Office Space
Renting office space for your small business, especially for the first time, can be a daunting exercise. Choosing to work with professional commercial leasing agents can alleviate the stress and simplify the process of renting an office. This is a vital step toward growing your small business, and enlisting a seasoned professional can make all of the difference.
To find and lease an office space that’s just right for you, reach out today.
About the author:
Sarah Hoopes is the Marketing Coordinator at Hartman Income REIT. She is a graduate of Utah Valley University with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Management.