One of the first questions that Oxfordshire start-ups have as they launch into their new operation is the question of premises. The smallest start-ups can sometimes work from home-based locations in the early years, but this typically applies to service based businesses and sole workers only. For businesses with inventory, production processes, warehousing needs or physical space requirements for teams, business suitable premises are needed.
The choice of those premises can be crucial indeed and a common area of worry for new business owners, who may not be familiar with the process, or have much experience. Additionally, most start-ups will have limited resources so may find the prospect daunting.
Happily, there is plenty of advice available to help plan the approach to finding those perfect premises. Speak to your local business adviser, look online for help guides and approach small business service providers for access to advice and local leads.
Plan your needs
The starting point is to have a clear idea of your business’s set-up, requirements, and other key factors that will help plan your approach. Three factors are key and location is primary. If you’re looking at flexible Oxford offices to rent, for example, you’ll need to know that they have excellent accessibility for staff and visitors, good transport links, good facilities and attractive pricing structures, with flexible features that work for your needs. Consider, too, proximity to suppliers, as well as potential competitors if you are operating from a shop front. Secondly, consider premises type; flexible accommodation is great for office based businesses. Retail premises suit customer-facing service providers and industrial estates or units are good for business to business, online or manufacturing type businesses. You’ll need to think about how much space you need, what type of set-up and whether you’ll need onsite facilities and services. The final decision concerns whether you lease, license or buy premises and the budget and tax implications of each.
Flexible office accommodation
Flexible offices are very popular with start-ups, and Oxford has some excellent business premises spaces available for businesses that need ‘easy in’ arrangements and access to a range of services on an ‘as needs’ basis. Typical services include same day set-up, immediate broadband and telephone lines, flexible desk arrangements, options for business branding and supporting services such as free parking, onsite catering and the option to buy in reception services and more.
Begin the search
When you have your plan, you can begin searching, looking at locations, set-ups, facilities and availability, as well as costs and service packages. Look for flexible lease arrangements and prices that are fair but not worryingly cheap! Remember, you will get what you pay for. Find out, too, if grants and other incentives apply to certain areas; contact a business support provider or local council.
Also consider which arrangement is best for your tenancy. Licensing arrangements are highly flexible but offer minimum security. Leases offer less flexibility but more security. You can end up liable for rent to cover the entire lease period if you leave the premises early, but most long term leases will have rent break clauses. Alternatively, you can buy the premises and the freehold, although this can be expensive. Many start-ups will prefer flexible office arrangements in and around Oxford, with access to all the local transport networks, local services and suppliers, a skilled workforce and other amenities.
Take time to physically visit potential premises, including business park units and flexible office accommodation and meet the people behind the premises. This can be useful, particularly if you are planning to lease, and a good arrangement with a reputable buildings manager can be a great asset to any new start-up.
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