According to the SBA, small businesses represent 99.7% of all employer firms. Seven out of 10 of these new companies survive at least 2 years, but only a quarter survive for 15 years or more. One major obstacle that small businesses face during these initial years is finding the right space and location to build for success. Some entrepreneurs are hesitant to move out of the security of their home office space, and fail to grow as a result. Others jump too quickly into a lavish, expensive space that they cannot support over the long term. It is vital that you, as an entrepreneur, make intelligent choices when moving from the basement to that official space you can call home. These choices are greatly informed if you are aware, educated, and practical.

Be Aware of Your Needs

You’ve started your business and things are going well. Your client base is growing steadily. You’ve invested in successful advertising that is getting your name out in the community, and your list of business contacts has expanded. The only thing is that the dishwasher broke this morning…and you have to pick the kids up in thirty minutes…and you have to schedule another meeting at the coffee shop because construction has closed access to your home office. Working from home can present personal distractions that can kill productivity and momentum. You could have a solid mahogany desk, ambient lighting, and enough technology to make Silicon Valley jealous, but you still cannot focus for more than fifteen minutes at a time.

Be aware of when it is time to leave the (sometimes) cozy confines of home and look beyond. Aside from productivity conflicts, many clients might prefer a corporate address with a parking lot and lobby. It is also a benefit to you to have a separate “work zone” that insists on a regular daily schedule to increase your own efficiency. In addition, it is important to consider what your continued growth will entail. If you plan on hiring employees, an office space can be very beneficial for meetings, break rooms, and separate spaces to meet clients. Also, keep in mind that managing a mobile workforce can inspire a lifetime of headaches.

Be Educated About Your Options 

The landscape of business properties can be overwhelming. Educate yourself about what space would be appropriate for the size and character of your business. Understand your options and know what professionals are needed, such as a certified commercial agent, in order to pursue those options. Great resources, like your local newspaper, a trusted agent, or, can help focus your efforts. When you begin looking at first spaces, approach them from a client’s perspective. Is the space easily seen from the road? Is there ample parking? Are the pathways clear, safe, and accessible? Keep in mind that the interior space of your office can shine, but if it’s right next to Al’s Used Cars, the first impression on your clients has already been painted.

When you find that perfect space, make sure that the lease terms allow enough flexibility for what you truly need from the space, as well as for your clients and employees. Will you be locked into a multi-year lease, or is there possibility of month-to-month? What maintenance dues will you pay, and what is covered by those costs? Keep in mind that a few extra dollars to provide snow removal and safe terrain during winter months might be well worth it.

Be Practical About Your Expenses

The gains of leasing an office space can greatly outweigh the actual monetary costs of leasing the space. However, it is important to remember that the perfect space does not have to be an earthly oasis. It is always fun to plan for growth, but many unrealistic entrepreneurs stretch themselves very thin in the beginning years by ending up with too much space, and too much overhead, to clear any profits. Several alternatives exist for the first space that could be a perfect fit.

Executive spaces, or “ready-made” spaces, could be a solution if you do not already have an inventory of furniture and technology for your office to survive on. Many leases for executive spaces can be month-to-month or one-year leases that require little paperwork on your part, versus a three- to five-year lease in a more traditional space that requires 50 pages of paperwork for you to complete. With this alternative, you have added flexibility, lowered your costs for setting up the office, and established a lesser obligation to stay in a space that might not work for you in two years.

Expanding out of your basement into the world is an exciting opportunity that can be maximized if you accurately evaluate what you require for your first space, and pursue your options with intelligence and practicality. Being smart about your space increases your chances of being one of the businesses that succeeds for the long haul – and that’s a win-win.