Starting a business may have you focused on filing permits, writing a business plan and purchasing marketing and promotional items. One of the most vital choices you will make will be the building you choose as your office or store front.

Regardless of the use – offices or store – the building itself shares needs. These items range from appropriate flooring to a hearty, industrial roof. It includes partitions and window treatments. You need common spaces and private work areas. Whether you opt for an open office plan or distinct offices, the structure itself matters most – inside and outside. Some items you may not have thought of at all and others may spring to mind immediately.

Location and Accessibility

Location refers to a part of town that makes sense for your business. This means you’re located near your clientele where they can easily access you. If you’re opening a warehouse for industrial overflow storage, you need a location in the industrial part of town.

Location also refers to your structure and its placement on the lot. For example, the right location for a store front provides ample parking in an adjacent lot, preferably one that fronts the business.

Accessibility relates to the entry and egress to the parking area and the structure itself. Buildings with no steps make it simpler for everyone to enter whether on foot or in a wheelchair. A central door on the front of the building is another important feature. It provides an easy to spot entry point. Within the building, you also need to provide easy access from one area to another.

Hearty Structural Elements

All buildings are not created the same. Depending on its use, the office, commercial building or store front requires different entryways, roofing, windows and walkways.

With respect to entryways, a storefront needs a push/pull door or an automatic door. A warehouse requires garage doors and loading docks or bays. A sidewalk or stone pathway leading to the doorway makes sense for a small office, such as a real estate firm.

There’s just as much variance in roofing choices. As TEMA Roofing Services explains, every business complex requires three things:

  • a cost within budget,
  • quality workmanship,
  • an appropriate roof system.

Many commercial buildings use flat roofs. For example, thermoplastic roofing (TPO roofing) provides a durable choice with high-temperature tolerance. They’re also fire and wind resistant and impervious to chemicals. They last up to 20 years. EPDM roofing offers similar benefits but is easier to install and maintain. Green businesses wanting to leverage solar power use pitched roofs with photovoltaic solar panels installed. This roofing system cuts the electrical costs of the business housed within the structure. They’re installed over an existing glass, membrane or tile roof.

The structure’s base materials matter, too. Cement covered with attractive siding provides a sturdy and appealing alternative that requires simple maintenance. A brick structure provides similar benefits.

The Interior Design

Plan for everyone’s productivity by providing both open workspaces and closed office spaces. While many people work well in an open space that allows interaction with other employees, others do not. Many others need an office they can enter and close the door to block out all interruptions. Plan for all employees because their productivity benefits you, the business owner. Provide each employee with the work situation that suits their needs so each can achieve optimum productivity. That means letting those who enjoy an open office work in one while letting those who need an uninterrupted, private area use one.

The simplest way to plan this into any building is to partition offices on the perimeter and create a shared, open space outside of them. Essentially, you’d create a large square for collaborating and offices on the perimeter.

Modern office spaces also require common spaces for conferences and long-distance collaboration. This includes audio-video equipment for video conferencing. Implement building-wide WiFi and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) to ensure reliable cell phone service throughout the structure.

Also, provide an attractive, comfortable breakroom where employees, contractors and vendors can gather for a cup of coffee or lunch. Some large corporations now house their own cafes, restaurants and fitness centers. Small businesses do not need to try to afford this. Simply choose a commercial location that has those types of businesses in the same or adjacent shopping center or business complex. Some creative types get their best ideas while working out or eating a meal.

Other Considerations

Some potential employees consider an eco- or green office vital. They want a workplace that operates in a sustainable manner. If you’re building your office structure, integrate green building materials and design into it. In an already constructed building, implement green office procedures that help reduce your firm’s carbon footprint.

Among the other things you do not see but you experience every time you step into the building – the HVAC system – can seriously impact you and your business. Dirty ducts can cause you, your employees and your clients to fall ill. The structure’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system circulates air throughout the building. Its intake vents pull in dirt, debris and allergens. Filters in the system should prevent these items from dispersing through the outtake vents. Old air filters cannot do this though. HVAC maintenance that includes regular replacement of filters keeps the air clean. So does regular duct cleaning. An HVAC professional will vacuum the ducts and replace the filters. Besides reducing allergens, this maintenance lowers the cost of your heating and air conditioning costs.

Outdoor signs act as a low cost advertisement and signal your location to customers. You need a large sign made of hearty material using a large font. Your city’s building and zoning codes set the size limit. They may also require you to use specific materials. Attach this to the upper front of the roof of your building. If your commercial space is part of a larger shopping center, make sure that you line your sign up with the other business’ to create a uniform look.

Purchase a custom awning with the business name printed on it. Erect this awning above your business’ front entryway. This can make an otherwise industrial looking shopping center entry look cozier.

Another important purchase, a portable vestibule, stops the cold and the wind from entering your establishment. These temporary shelters made of aluminum or wood and painted to match your business provides you with an attractive storefront while reducing your electric costs. They also ensure you have less to clean up at the end of the day since they keep debris, leaves and trash from blowing into your office or store.

The Total Package

Most business owners or entrepreneurs focus on the financial and marketing aspects of creating or expanding a business. They leave the actual structure as an afterthought. This constitutes a major mistake though since it leaves to chance everything from the likelihood of customers finding them to how effective their workspace will prove to their employees.

Start with obtaining the ideal location. Once you have procured the right building, you can alter it to suit your needs. You can hire building contractors to remodel or renovate both the exterior and the interior. You can even resurface the parking lot and reorganize the spaces to best suit your needs.

Most spaces will not start out ideal for your business. Since a convenient location that puts you close to customers ranks as the most important factor, gut the space and start over if you must.

Perhaps the building you found was initially designed for small, closed door offices, but you need an open work area. Gut it. Do not fear the demolition team. Do hire professionals though. You need to ensure that the contractors know the difference between partition walls and supporting walls and which beams are necessary. To the same end, you can easily erect mobile or static partitions to create offices out of an open space.

A space lacking a breakroom should not put you off. As long as it has some plumbing, even that of a bathroom, you have a starting point you need. You have a wet wall. A contractor can tap into the existing plumbing there and extend it to create the needed water outlets for a kitchen/break room.

While your business plan and marketing plan are vital, so is your location and structure. Choose a sturdy, attractive building with a commercial grade roof, building wide WiFi and DAS, workspaces that will work for everyone and green office procedures. Your business best succeeds when you have all the proper tools. Your place of business ranks as the top tool you need.

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Finn Pierson
Finn Pierson is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who specializes in business technology. He is drawn to the technological world because of its quickly paced and constantly changing environment. He believes embracing technology is essential to capturing success in any business and strives to inspire and encourage top technological practices in business leaders across the globe. He's a fan of podcasts, bokeh and smooth jazz. His time is mostly spent learning the piano and watching his Golden Retriever Julian chase a stick.