How To Rent Your First Business Store? Step-by-Step Guide.

Are you clueless about renting your first business store? Not too sure about what you need included in your tenancy agreement? Here are the fundamentals of moving in to setup your first shop:

    1. Location, location, location.
      1. Facing mainroads
      2. Best to select Ground floor or 1st floor. Eye level only.
      3. Nearby facilities, cafes, banks etc.
      4. Accessibility (Nearby highways)
      5. Make sure the shop can be found in at least Waze & Google Map.
    2. Always pay attention to details e.g. Rooftop, Piping, M&E, Leakages (No damages). Have the landlord to fix if any.
    3. Make sure previous utility bills are paid off. No outstanding till the date of your tenancy agreement initiation.
    4. Tenancy Agreement details and exits.
    5. Design shop based on your inspiration.
    6. Moving in.

Location, Location, Location

It’s a no-brainer. No business wants to be located near unknown or unpopular streets, towns or cities. Whilst it is easy to determine whether the area is not in-demand, it is also difficult to rent shops in prime areas with good traffic as it is very expensive.

However, there’s always a good list of criterias in which you need to abide to without having to fork out much capital for rental:

  • Preferably facing mainroad. Otherwise, somewhere near the main road should be fine if your budget is limited.
  • Rent either ground floor or first floor only. This enables the incoming traffic or pedestrians able to spot your shop’s signboard since it is eye or near-eye level.
  • Nearby facilities should be available abundantly, if not redundant. Facilities you should look out for are banks, cafes, restaurants and even markets.
  • Shoplot preferably has access to multiple highways for convenience.
  • Shoplot can be found accurately on at least Waze and Google Map.

Try to nail every criteria in the list to ensure your first store opening likely a success.


Always pay attention to details e.g. Rooftop, Piping, M&E, Leakages

Once you feel the rental matches your liking, it is time to pay to attention. Set a viewing with the landlord or the agent. Bring along a contractor, designer or any friend who is familiar with interior renovation.

Pay attention to the rental rooftop, piping, water tank and M&E for damages or leakages. It is important you spot them before making any further commitment as it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure the lot is free from any structural and basic damages. Get the landlord to repair the problems and only then you make deposits.


Make sure previous utility bills are paid off. No outstanding till the date of your tenancy agreement initiates

Many of my clients (and even partners) often fail to realize this an important issue. They simply entered into negotiation with landlord and made deposits out of excitement. Whilst it is great to be excited to launch your new store, please do it in a good manner.

Some landlords can be forgetful about outstanding bills, especially if the property has been on the market for a long time without tenant. While I caution you that this can simply be the case of an honest mistake, be careful of devious landlord(s) too. Despite of your best efforts to explain the truth from the bills, it could be troublesome to resolve the issue. For some, they might advise you to not deal with such landlord for fear in the long run, I’d reckon there is another way you should try before giving up.

Get photo of the utility meter and write the values on the tenancy agreement on the day in which the contract starts. Having these values will enable you to confront the landlord (hopefully it doesn’t end this way) in a case to settle the dispute.  


Tenancy Agreement details and exits.

When it comes to drafting the tenancy agreement (TA), it is best that you prepare it rather than the landlord. Reason for this is to ensure that you are in a stronger position for negotiation since most terms and conditions that you would like are applied. In other words, you would be in a safer position with TA drafted mainly by your side.

Things you should include in the TA are:

  • In an event where the property experiences structural damages such as pipe leakages, rooftop damages, cracks in walls and floor, prior to tenant contract initiation, the landlord is held liable in fixing the damages of the said property.

I could go on and include the whole agreement but that would be too much. Email me at if you need the entire draft of the tenancy agreement for reference. I’m much to oblige.


Design shop based on your inspiration

For small business owners, I would not recommend to hire interior designers to design your store as it can be very expensive.

From my personal experience, this is where your lean management skills come in handy. It is your chance to reduce your startup costs.

Like every designer, you need to find your source of inspiration for your store. Personally, I’d go to Pinterest and IKEA for design ideas. Get as many inspirations and integrate some elements of designs into your own. If you feel you need more sources, Googling “retails store design concept” will help you further – just click on the Image Results.

Once you have designed sketched or printed out by hiring cheap freelancers on or to have it translated using design software programs.

Having the design is the first step. Next, you need to negotiate with several different contractors to get the best offer for the renovation of the office. Keep in mind that you will need to be flexible here. You might not be able to get the exact details of your design – so it always help to prepare multiple versions of your design in case if the contractor’s quotation becomes too expensive.

I’d also like to caution you to only agree to progress payment of 15-20% followed by the 10% deposit. In this way, you’ll be able to monitor the renovation progress easier in case the contractor does not reach up to your standard. Also, always keep in mind to always release the final progress payment once you they done touch-ups or any last minute repairs. Include all these in the terms and conditions in order to protect your interest. I know it is not much but it might take a whole other article to discuss about the contract negotiation with your contractor.


Moving In      

Getting the movers or office relocators is easy these days. Get all the heavy equipment and furnitures moved by them. Reduce your cost by transporting the smaller and lighter furniture by yourself. Basically, moving to new office depends on the management and timing – something which I do not need to discuss here.

Final Two Cent…

It is important to pay attention to details of the property on your first viewing. Take note of all the damages and non-existing basic utility – which the landlord has to provide before renting out. Take a note of how you can apply your office design ideas on the property – see if you can find problems whether your design might be difficult to be applied to it. Once the agreement is signed, make sure everything agreed on the contract is performed before making deposit and move in.

What do you guys think? Do you feel I’ve left out something big in the article? Please leave a comment in the section below and share with us.   

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