How to: Set up a small business office

Setting up a small business office is a challenge for anyone. The key is to have an understanding of how the business works and how you want it to grow.

Here are some questions and tips to get you started.

What is your business plan?

Management consultant John Downes says a business plan is the starting point if you’re considering how to start a business.

Home office in Clayton


“It’s actually fairly critical for an office because you have to understand who your customer groups are and how they wish to be communicated to and how they wish to be served based on their needs,’’ Downes says.

“That very much determines whether they need face-to-face interaction or not.

“If they don’t need face-to-face interaction, that changes what your office requirements are.

Downes says 90% of the decision over office space comes down to identifying customers’ expectations.

“If your customers’ expectations are to come into your office that will have considerable impact on the level of professionalism that the office has, both in its size and its décor, and it being business-like.

“On the other hand, if it is just a production facility, then it could easily be small and low cost. And if it’s an internet business, it could just be a garage.”

How will you meet the customer’s needs?

Proximity and sense of purpose for meeting the customer’s needs and expectations should be your number one priority, Downes says.

Proximity and sense of purpose should be number one.

“You will need internet and printing capabilities, tea and coffee making facilities and quiet meeting rooms if you are going to be client facing,” he says.

Having the right amount of space, and the budget to pay for it, should also be top of mind. Write down what your needs are in terms of staff, customers and space and determine where they all fit.

LJ Hooker office furniture

How much does a fit-out cost?

“Obviously the price per square meter changes from suburb to suburb and that’s something that’s relatively straight forward to do some research on,’’ Downes says.

“You probably only need no more than six to seven square metres per person for desk and cubicle space.

You probably only need six to seven square metres per person for desk space.

“If you had an office of only three people, you would be budgeting on an office fit-out that could be anywhere between $10,000 and $50,000 including partitions, desks, meeting room space and some basic technology.”

Go figure: 5 key numbers when planning an office fit-out

Does the fit-out suit your business?

LJ Hooker office


The other important part is making the best use of that space in the office. And that might require investment.

“You need to have enough space and you have to make sure staff can be productive and effective. You need to provide an environment that promotes effective work and effective team work,” Downes says.

Positive messaging: Staff-friendly office fit-outs

This raises another question. Will the office space be exposed to the customer or is the customer-facing area going to be separated and have one or two meeting rooms?

“That has an implication for fit-out and it also has an implication for size and implications for accessibility.”

In the end, that decision is up to the business owner. It’s a question of what best suits the business.

Creating an office space is more challenging than people think. In the end, it comes down to customer needs and conducive work environment to meet the needs of the business.