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Premises premises

It’s been a couple of weeks since we ‘lost’ the premises that we have been negotiating/haggling/stressing over since January. Initially I was too despondent to blog about it, that moved onto anger and now I feel ready!
I thought that it may be useful for others to know what an indie business needs to go through before they are handed the keys to their own place. It’s a complicated (and relatively expensive) business, even if all of your hard work doesn’t lead to anything concrete.
The initial step is market research. You may be passionate about your ideas, but if others aren’t, it’s back to the drawing board. Also, local market research drums up interest and fuels your ideas, resulting in even more ideas! In addition to sending out questionnaires, flyers etc I would say that Twitter has benefitted us greatly in terms of getting our name known. We have over 660 followers already, many of whom are locals, waiting for us to open.
Next, but preferably in parallel, finances are a biggy! Yes it sounds obvious I know. You have to account for every eventuality, and then add on some more for contingency. I am extremely grateful for my wonderful accountant mum – figures hurt my brain a little. If you’re the same, I highly recommend seeking some professional advice.
If after months of research you are sure that your idea has possibilities, then you’re ready to look at premises. This is a huge step. Premises are expensive and full of hidden complications, so be prepared. If it’s in a shopping centre, the rent may seem appealing compared to the high street, but beware of service charges and non-negotiable insurances. They add up fast, making your bargain not quite such a good catch. The other area which caught us off guard was the Heads of Terms, which are often unclear and open to interpretation. I would urge you to get these checked and clarified early on.
And finally, employ a reliable surveyor. If you choose right (we went to the RICS website), their advice is invaluable to you. Again though, they come at cost, so make sure that everything else is ironed out first. Our experience has cost us approximately £2,500 and we’re no closer to physically setting up shop than we were six months ago.
All is not lost though, we have learned a great deal and if anything, it has strengthened our resolve to make Chicken and Frog the best children’s bookshop ever!

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The independent children's bookshop, tuition centre and cafe corner in the heart of Brentwood, Essex. Owned and run by Mr Frog & Mrs Chicken (happily married book-nerds), with the sole aim of bringing high quality books and tuition to our community.