There are a lot of decisions left to be made, but one thing is for sure: I can't work at home. I have tried in the past, but the result would drive both me and my family nuts. For the last few weeks I have been looking for a small office to lease to give me a place to meet with clients, think, study and plan.
I have chosen to set up shop in the community where I live, which is both good and bad. On the positive side, we are relatively underserved from a legal perspective (based simply on numbers of lawyers per capita), and there is a great (and growing) need for professional services here. On the bad, the area is mostly single family homes with little business infrastructure, so finding a small office is proving to be tricky.
There are plenty of offices available over the hill closer to San Francisco, but we have decided to make a go of it here in the suburbs where the business infrastructure is not as developed. This rules out many of the best options for new solos, like legal suites and subletting an office from an existing small firm. An additional problem is that many commercial realtors don't want to deal with people seeking small spaces, so it can be difficult to find someone to help you search. I have found the classified ads in my local paper to be the best source of listings; Craigslist
is also good in some communities, but has relatively little to offer in my market area.
One extremely good resource is Loopnet
, a website I stumbled across courtesy of a Google search. Loopnet had several office leases in my area, and put me in touch with a commercial agent who may be able to help. I met with her today to take a look at three spaces in an office park about five minutes from my house (can't wait for a commute like that!). The offices were just what I was looking for, except they are on the second floor in a walk-up with no elevator - a huge problem, since I am considering elder law as a possible practice area. Appears to be a deal breaker, which is a shame because I liked most everything else about the complex.
There are still other opportunities, including a new office building right set to open next month at a great location with plenty of traffic (right across the street from a Wal-Mart) and a business incubator in the next city over. There is a fair amount of new commercial space just hitting the market, but the problem with this route is that most landlords won't subdivide smaller than 1,000 square feet, and since all they provide is four walls and a door you have to put out a lot of money to finish it (add HVAC, interior walls, paint, flooring, etc.).