Negotiations with a landlord can also help with configuring the office space and providing new carpet and paint. "A designer can help with plans that are figured into the rent," says McKey, who does both commercial and residential design. "It's cost effective to hire a professional to do a space plan."
If you have negotiated a modest rental fee, you might have to install new carpeting yourself. If so, consider commercial grade carpet which will wear better than residential carpet.
And -- an important thing to consider -- determine if your new business location has enough parking spaces for your clientele.
Then there's insurance.
"Hurricane protection is usually the responsibility of the landlord," McKey says. A small business owner should talk to a lawyer to make sure the lease is properly negotiated. Find out what is the landlord's responsibility. And talk to a banker. Should you get with business checks, for example, if you have been using personal checks while working from home?"
Another throat-grabbing situation is if the sprinkler system goes off -- and there's no fire. Usually it's the landlord's responsibility to make repairs but check with a lawyer to see where you stand if files and equipment are damaged.
An alternative to leasing a small office might be renting space in an executive suite in which several small businesses share a receptionist and someone to handle mail. "It gives a presence of professionalism to have someone answering the phone," McKey says.
Many interior designers, like McKey, have small offices. But their storage needs are great because they have catalogs on furniture, flooring, lighting, hardware -- whatever a business or residential project requires.
Strolling through McKey's office is like going to a library -- at least four rooms are devoted to thick catalogs of furnishings and drawers containing enormous amounts of materials. But she makes double use of the rooms by placing a desk and one of her designers and/or support staff in the library space.