Your premises requirements may depend on the amount and range of stock that you intend to carry. For example, how much inside and outside space do you require? Would covered but unheated space be suitable for some of your stock? Do you need workshop space, a smart showroom, perhaps office space for doing jobs like administering an e-commerce website?

You'll probably need quite a lot of space. Fortunately, you may not need a prime location - if you have the right stock your customers will probably be prepared to make a bit of an effort to find you. You could consider the following types of premises:

  • old churches and chapels - these generally have plenty of space and can be reasonably cheap to rent or even buy
  • old, disused industrial buildings like mills, warehouses, dockside buildings and so on
  • spare agricultural outbuildings, if you can get planning permission and the owner's happy to rent them out or sell them
  • a modern unit on an industrial estate
  • other low-rent commercial sites with plenty of space - look for sites like this near railway property, in industrial areas, in and near to docks and so on

You might be able to work from home if you've got enough space. But be aware that there could be planning issues involved, particularly if this involves things like changing the use of outbuildings or putting up new ones.

Enter in your cash flow forecast the amount of rent you'll have to pay in the months that you will have to pay it.

If you haven't yet decided on a particular site you could contact a local estate agent who handles commercial property to get an idea of how much the rent is likely to be.

Your solicitor will help you with a lease agreement but make sure that you are clear about:

  • whether the premises can be used for your purposes - will change of use and any other planning permission be needed?
  • how frequently the rent will be reviewed
  • how long the lease runs for
  • what you and the landlord are each responsible for
  • the position as regards sub-letting
  • are the premises easily accessible to vehicles, including quite large vans and even lorries?
  • is there adequate parking?

Look into areas like security, the nature of the local neighbourhood and so on. Bear in mind that your premises should be accessible to customers and staff who are disabled.