Commercial real-estate is much different than residential. This was something we weren’t fully aware of, but we were sure about to learn quickly! Before ending the meeting we had with the faculty member I discussed in “Starting a New Business: The First Steps” we were left with one last piece of advice:
Start looking at spaces right away.
We weren’t in any position to sign onto a space yet (we were in the middle of our intern year), however just the experience would allow us to build on our vision for our space and now looking back, I am glad we listened to his advice. Regardless of what came from our time viewing units, it would bring value to our process.
ENTERING THE WORLD OF COMMERCIAL REAL-ESTATE
We went home and jumped onto realtor.ca and browsed through what was available for lease in the Guelph area. Mind you, it was December and we were still in clinic at the time. Within a couple of hours, we had 4 or 5 viewings scheduled for the following week!?!
PS: realtor.ca is a great resource and you can contact agents directly from there to go view spaces.
We didn’t expect much to come out of our visit to Guelph that day. Our goal was to get a feel for what types of spaces were available, plus we felt pretty cool while doing some real life “adulting”. Little did we know we were in for some serious excitement!
THE DAY OF THE SHOWINGS
The first couple of units we saw one morning didn’t do much for us. Some spaces were too big, some too small, some layouts didn’t fit with what we had envisioned, and another had evidence of someone squatting in it. There was also another that we showed up to but was locked and the agent wasn’t provided a key (#fail). We ended up making small talk with this agent. Turns out he was was born and raised in Guelph and was clearly passionate about his job, we clicked right away. We spoke with the agent a little bit about ourselves and our plans as well as what we saw for our practice at that point. He mentioned there was another unit in the South End of Guelph that was worth seeing.
THE BIG SHOWING
The area was much more industrial than residential, which we weren’t in love with at first but we were intrigued by a couple of other businesses in the building; a massive daycare facility and a fitness studio. He mentioned that the unit we were seeing hadn’t been occupied since the building was built, so it was an empty shell. This certainly wasn’t something that we would have originally thought we’d take on (we will get more into the ins-and-outs of commercial real-estate). Again, expectations were low (all I saw were dollar signs) and we had a “let’s just get this over with” mentality before we went into the unit.
Once we walked inside, there was a strange energy we felt while standing on the gravel floors of this empty shell of a unit. It just felt right. Sure, we’d have to handle contracting the build of the entire unit. That’s when we realized the beauty here; we could craft it however we wanted. We didn’t have to worry about messing with existing layouts and attempting to retrofit it to our needs. We’d able to make this place our own!
We just knew that this was the place. After the meeting, before heading back to the city, we went back to take some photos of us outside of it (once the agent was gone) because we just knew this would be the home of our future clinic. It was on.
KEY LESSON WHEN DEALING IN COMMERCIAL REAL-ESTATE
In the end, this blind “shotgun” approach at searching for units ultimately landed us in the perfect unit for us. While we found the unit that day back in December, the next few months were eye-opening in closing on a lease which we’ll dive into another time.
This experience has reinforced our mindset of following what the universe brings to you. I’m happy we didn’t procrastinate going to see places because we didn’t feel “ready” or “prepared”. We put ourselves out there and amazing things happened. Today, following our intuition or our “gut feeling” is a guiding light for us. You’d be amazed at what can happen when you can stay true to this principle.
Don’t procrastinate. Don’t listen to any inner voices that may be holding you back from working towards your goals. Instead, tell yourself you can, take the leap and dive in headfirst when things feel uncomfortable. Then, regardless of the outcome, learn from what went well and what to do next time.
One Last Point On Commercial Real Estate
We lucked out with the listing agent for the space that we landed on, however looking back I think it would be important for anyone looking for a space to hire their own agent. Having someone exclusively on your side can make things cleaner and less complicated when it comes to lease offers and leasehold improvement negotiations. This is by no means a requirement, but definitely something to think about for people who are new to this process (like ourselves).
Now go have some fun cruising through realtor.ca and check out some available units in your area. You never know, somewhere might jump off the page at you, sparking something incredible!