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article imageWhy brokers are making it tough for startups to find office space

By John Boitnott     Mar 19, 2015 in Business
As you search for new office space, remember that brokers are on the lookout for certain behaviors that tell them you may not actually be interested.
If you’re an entrepreneur or founder of a startup and you’re in the market for commercial space, congratulations! That’s a huge milestone and one that many businesses don’t reach easily—if ever. However, commercial space, whether owned or leased, is often the most expensive overhead item you can get. In addition to the sheer cost of rent or a mortgage, it also introduces new types of insurance, utility bills, and an increased risk since employees and/or customers may get hurt on your property. After all, slip and falls are the most common personal injury claim outside of auto collisions.
However, don’t get so caught up in the shopping excitement that you turn off brokers. Brokers are your secret weapon for finding the right commercial space quickly and within a budget. They’re also not in desperate need of your business since it’s still a bit of a seller’s market. They often work with renters and landlords, so brokers can afford to cherry pick their clients.
Unfortunately, a lot of entrepreneurs accidentally turn off brokers from the get go. Have you tried reaching out but haven’t had any calls returned? According to these brokers, you might be making one of these common mistakes:
Short and Sweet?
OfficeSpace is a company that specializes in matching office spaces with startups and entrepreneurs. After analyzing more than 10,000 emails, they found that short term renters are often the most ignored. It makes sense. If you’re looking for a short term lease and make that clear in your initial email or ask, you just might not be a profitable client. You also may not know what you really want or be financially sound. If that sounds like you, consider hot desking it or seeking out your own short term lease. For a broker, the ROI of working with you just isn’t there.
The Conspiracy Theorist
Okay, maybe you don’t actually think brokers are part of a conspiracy theory keeping the best commercial spaces from you, but you’re secretive. You don’t want to talk hard figures, you don’t want to share what exactly your startup does, and you’re not very quick to respond. This may be in the interest of protecting your million dollar idea (or maybe your just flakey), but remember that brokers are on your side and want to make sales. They’re not going to steal your idea—they’re brokers, not investors or startup gurus. However, if you’re not forthcoming, they’re not going to drag the information out of you. They’ll just move on.
You “Just Don’t Know”
It’s not the job of a broker to figure out what you want—that’s your job. They can certainly help you fine tune things, but do your research and have a budget in place before you even reach out to a broker. It’s also very easy to tell when a client hasn’t researched or they’re just window shopping. If you don’t know what you want, you probably shouldn’t be asking for a professional broker's help yet. If you show that you’re informed, ready to lease/buy and have a reasonable timeframe and budget, you’ll much likelier connect with a broker.
Before you find a broker, make sure to ask yourself if you really want commercial space at all. It’s expensive, it totally changes the atmosphere of your company, and you may not need it. Obviously a startup such as a restaurant needs space, but if you can swing telecommuting or virtual offices, why not? It saves money, the environment, and lets you work in yoga pants from anywhere you like. A business doesn’t need an office to be "real."
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