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Front entry and lobby of a commercial space, the Dynasty Room.

Commercial Office, Retail, Third Places

5 Things You Need to Know About Opening Your First Commercial Space

Especially if it’s your first, opening a commercial space is a big deal and takes no shortage of knowledge or planning to pull off without too much trouble, or too much time lost. Here are five things to keep in mind when taking your new commercial space from concept to doors-open.

January 16, 2020

This is it! Your business is ready for your first commercial space. It’s a special moment, and it can be exciting, daunting, and it needs to happen fast! Whether you are just starting to look at spaces, just signed a lease, are sketching out plans as we speak, or heck, just dreaming in front of an Excel spreadsheet, here are five things to keep in mind as you open your first commercial space.

It Takes Time

Most business owners want to get the doors open as soon as possible and that’s the goal. The reality is, there are a ton of factors — many of which are out of your control — that are going to determine when those doors actually open. Between hunting for a space, lease negotiations, the design process, contractor availability and permitting, to say, “It takes time,” is an understatement. That isn’t to say there aren’t ways to streamline the process: your architect can help you get those doors open as expeditiously as possible.

Trust the Process

Opening your first commercial space is exciting, and it’s easy to get ahead of yourself. It's tempting to start sketching designs and begin planning that grand opening party before you’re even started hunting for a space. It’s best, though, to take a breath, figure out what you know and what you don’t know, then bring in the people that will fill in those knowledge gaps.

It Takes a Village

Especially for sole proprietors, the urge to “do it all yourself” is tempting; but, the reality is, you’re going to need a team. Even if you have a dozen friends lined up to help you paint, you will need to sign a lease, get insurance, a building permit, design a space, interview contractors, and so much more. Knowing where and how to connect with the right professionals — and how to build a team — is key to moving things forward.

Balance Speed with Quality

It doesn’t take long to figure out that there are incentives to moving quickly when you open your first commercial space. What might not be apparent at the outset, is that speed has a price; and the faster things go, the more of a chance there is that something might not get done properly. Shoddy construction, ill-conceived leases, and (worse yet) inspection and permitting issues, can bring a super-fast schedule to a screeching halt. Trusting your team to tell you when to pump the brakes a bit can be the difference between opening on target, or facing a months-long delay.

Design is Your Biggest Opportunity

You’re about to present your business to the world and make a brand new first impression on every single employee, guest, and passerby of your new space. This is an opportunity to tell your story, and what makes you unique! It may be tempting to have a painting party with friends, get some furniture and just open the doors, but the more thought and care you put into your space — along with the input of your architect and design team — the more that will come through when you introduce your new space to the world. All of the work you have put into your business up to this point is incredible, and this is the chance to share that, proudly, through design.


Would you like to learn more? Join Charles Fadem and Chris Parker of Board & Vellum, and Nathan B. Benedict of Ewing & Clark, at a GSBA business empowerment workshop, From Design to Doors Open: Open Your New Commercial Space Like a Pro. The event is free, but space is limited. Reserve your spot, and get closer to knowing how to get your commercial space open like a pro.

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5 Things You Need to Know About Opening Your First Commercial Space

Especially if it’s your first, opening a commercial space is a big deal and takes no shortage of knowledge or planning to pull off without too much trouble, or too much time lost. Here are five things to keep in mind when taking your new commercial space from concept to doors-open.

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