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Your property journey

Start-up series part 6

At inception, your business may consist of one or two people and have no ‘fixed abode’.

Mobile technology allows us to work remotely and has enabled countless start-ups to be created from the kitchen table, coffee shop and students’ union. Meetings can be held via Skype, desks can be rented on an hourly basis, and there are more public places offering free WiFi than ever before.

However, as your business starts to gain traction, it is very likely to want a base to call home. So what do you need to know when you embark on your property journey?

Flexible space

In the early years, you will probably be looking to avoid any long term commitments. The rise of the flexible workspace now offers a perfect solution to those wanting their own space, but who are not ready to commit to a long term agreement. Most cities around the UK now offer a range of flexible workspaces and co-working spaces. Occupiers typically pay all inclusive-fees to have access to desks and space, but also access to social and wellness facilities, tech support and a vibrant peer-community. Most providers will have short term rolling monthly agreements allowing the business to more in and move out quickly.

Scale-up

As your business grows, you may begin to feel the restraints of flexible workspaces and co-working spaces. For example, an open plan layout and shared facilities may cause data protection issues or you may want the ability to ‘put your stamp’ on the premises in terms of branding or alterations. Or perhaps your business has emerging requirements for additional premises such as warehouses, manufacturing plants or retail units to support the expanding business.

Investment

All start-up and scale-up businesses looking for investment will need to get their ‘house in order’ as far as their premises are concerned.

  • Have a clear strategy in mind. Is the plan to consolidate and stay in your current premises? Or are you looking to expand now or in the near future? Are there any properties that you will need to get out of in the near future?
  • For businesses heavily reliant on location (such as retail and leisure businesses), investors will want to be sure that the business has sufficient ‘security of tenure’ (i.e. they aren’t going to be kicked out on short notice).
  • If you are planning on expanding or acquiring new premises, consider speaking to a lawyer or a chartered surveyor to help you with negotiating the terms of the deal.
  • Investors will check Investors will check existing property arrangements for any onerous terms or conditions that might harm the profitability of the business (i.e. unforeseen costs). They will also be on the lookout for any restrictions on the ability to scale up space (or scale down if applicable). If your existing lease or licence hasn’t been looked at by a lawyer, think about this sooner rather than later as being forewarned is forearmed.

How we can help

Our Real Estate team advises on a wide range of commercial property matters across England & Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Ed Pitt is a Senior Associate in our Real Estate team and specialises in acting for fast growth businesses and their investors.  Please do get in touch if you would like to chat through any of the above.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at October 2019. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms and conditions.

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