Many sole traders, entrepreneurs and start-ups trade from home or sharing co-working spaces. And this does suit a range of businesses but as we all know, one size does not fit all. Catering companies, retail shops and storage companies are a few examples of businesses that commonly need commercial premises.

So what should you have on your checklist when taking on a commercial property?

We’ve compiled a list of questions to help you in your hunt to find the right place for you.

1. Do the premises need any major renovations to fit your business requirements – i.e. if you want to run a kitchen, does the property already have ovens and adequate units and work surfaces?

2. How easy will the property make it for you to comply with food, health, fire and other safety regulations?

3. Is it easily assessable for customers and workers that use public transport – how close is the nearest train station or bus stop?

4. Does the location already get a lot of passing trade or are you likely to be the biggest ‘draw’ on the street (which might put a lot more pressure on your marketing and promotional efforts)?

5. Is nearby housing readily available for management and employees? – this will be relevant for bigger organisations.

6. Are there any competitors trading nearby? Are those sites better or worse than yours?

7. What will the insurance be? Obtain quotes from different suppliers to help you compare.

8. What will the business rates be? The council will be able to give you this information.

9. The condition of the property and the need for modernising – will you be able to trade from there for five or 10 years from now? A surveyor should do a condition report to help you determine this but you’ll need to consider other factors like the availability of adequate storage facilities for more stock as you expand, places for staff to take their breaks, washroom and eating facilities, etc.

10. What is the business climate in the area? Consider talking to other traders in the same area to gain insight. Look at local council investment and infrastructure proposals, if any and compare them to plans for other areas to ensure you’re investing in a venue that’s going to remain vibrant and grow.

11. Are there any delivery logistics restrictions. e.g. how easy is to gain reasonable access to the property; are there any parking or thoroughfare limitations?

12. What parking facilities are on offer for customers (if relevant)? Depending on the nature of your business, it can be a significant advantage to your business if you can offer customer parking.

13. Consider the operating costs of the premises — will they be too high to offer you an adequate profit? Ask detailed questions of the landlord and get quotes from different utility suppliers.

For further reading on this topic and many more, have a look at our free guide to getting you started in business, by clicking here.

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