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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 Outdated?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

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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