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The Entrepreneur’s Corner

Finding the right office space for your business
Moving your business stinks. It’s difficult, it’s expensive, and every step of the process takes a lot of time. But sometimes, and more often than not, the right space can make the business in the same way the right handshake can win the job.

There are so many options for business of all sizes. Even though Metro Richmond is a relatively small commercial market, there’s still every type of space imaginable. Making the wrong decision can actually hurt your business, so it makes sense to tackle it head-on. Think Gandhi with a little sprinkle of Bobby Knight – patience and grit pay off. And you should start by asking a lot of questions:

• Find a leader – Who will lead this effort within your organization? It’s a daunting task indeed, and it deserves a dedicated decision-maker willing to work through the pitfalls.

• Determine your space needs – Is your existing space too large? Too small? Inefficient? Too far from your clients? Outdated? Overpriced? Find your motivation and take action.

• Assess your business environment – How would you describe your office environment? Are you a big fan of collaboration, frequent dialogue, and teaming? If so you might prefer an open work environment rather than private offices. Do you rely on walk-in traffic or have frequent visitors throughout the day? If so, focus on high visibility locations, ample parking and a large enough reception area.

• Warm up your calculator – What is your budget? Be realistic and be honest with yourself about the company’s budget. Use the web to research how much commercial space costs in your desired locations, and don’t be afraid to call around to different broker professionals for their input.

Once you’ve completed the first phase, it’s time to get yourself aligned with a broker who can represent you in the process. Alternatively, you can represent yourself through the next steps, which include touring properties, developing a short list of your top two or three spaces, gathering offers (commonly referred to as Letters of Intent), negotiating and signing a lease.

While a few businesses choose to go without broker representation, most prefer the advantages of having an experienced professional to help them through each step.

This is usually when the Bobby Knight-like personality comes out in people. Negotiations have complex layers and it helps to have an expert broker working on your behalf to take the emotional, chair-throwing tendencies out of the process. If you do decide to take on the task yourself, here are a few things to keep in mind:

• Size does matter – Negotiating power is directly proportionate to the size of your office in relation to the size of the building. A small tenant in a large office building won’t have too much leverage over the ownership. That same tenant in a smaller office building, however, could get a better deal.

• Turn “deal-breakers” into negotiable points – For example, the ownership’s lease calls for a 5 percent annual escalation and you know the market escalation is 3 percent (which it is, by the way). That escalation rate seems like a deal breaker to you, but it is likely a negotiable point for the owner. If ownership insists on 5 percent, find another way around it – maybe ask for an increase in the tenant improvement allowance, or a reduction in the first year rental rate.

• Don’t be afraid to walk away.

• Ask questions until you get answers.

• Get everything in writing and make sure you and the ownership sign the same lease document.

Suzanne White is an associate who specializes in corporate real estate services, including office and industrial sales and leasing, with Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer. Contact her at (804) 697-3478 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
Community

Celebrating 106 years

Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.

YMCA breaks ground for aquatic center

YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy the final days of summer with comedian Guy Torry, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour or mystery writer Mary Miley Theobald at Twin Hickory Library. Another great way to welcome the beginning of fall is to check out the UR Spider Football season opener with man’s best friend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Bottoms up

Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.

The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

Cultural Arts Center announces 2014 fall class schedule

The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is now registering participants for its fall 2014 schedule of classes.

The center will offer more than 100 classes for children and adults, covering topicssuch as culinary arts, fiber arts, visual and performance arts and more. Instruction is structured to appeal to a wide range of abilities, from beginners to experts of all ages. Class sizes are kept small to ensure maximum benefit for participants with generally no more than 15 students. > Read more.

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