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20 Years of Capital Space

Colchester Business and Seedbed Centre
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Colchester Business and Seedbed Centre
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

A lot of things can change in 20 years: what were you doing on New Year’s Eve 1998? Enterprise Centres Limited – part of the Capital Space group - had just bought its first  property, the Colchester Business and Seedbed Centre – and began trading the very next day, 1st January 1999! Peter Boam, the founder, explains what inspired him to move into business accommodation and how his model has survived recessions and the rise of the internet to grow to nine business centres across the South East.

Challenging business times

If you’ve been in business over the past two decades, you’ll know there have certainly been some challenges.  The Great Recession of 2008-9 changed the business landscape in many ways, but the rise of the internet has been omnipresent in reshaping how businesses market themselves and how customers choose products and suppliers. 

Weathering these storms and learning to adapt to new technologies and customer expectations have been crucial for any business to survive.  Yet Capital Space – as we are now widely known – has not only survived, but thrived, developing from our initial solo Enterprise Centre to nine business centres in Kent, Essex, Surrey and Buckinghamshire.  Succeeding in such challenging times, especially as other competitors have struggled, has in large part been due to developing a winning formula that has appealed to small and medium-sized business owners – but the inspiration for our innovative offering that meets the needs of 21st-century businesses has its roots in history.

Inspired by history

The life of our first Enterprise Centre began as an experiment to explore whether commercial space for those wishing to start or to grow their businesses could be provided on terms that suit the user whilst at the same time producing a commercial return for the investor.

Ever since feudal times, landowners in the UK have held the upper hand in negotiations with those who wish to use the land for their business. The long-established traditional method of sharing land entails the landowner passing on full responsibility for the care of the land and buildings to the user or tenant.  Historically this arrangement had a duration of 20, 99 or 999 years. These leases were prevalent up until as recently as the end of the last century, with rent payable on quarter days: Lady Day, Midsummer, Michaelmas and Christmas. The paperwork would take the form of a lengthy legal document prepared by solicitors, containing many onerous covenants that often enabled the landlord to take financial advantage when circumstances changed for the tenant, as they frequently did.

Land owners were always able to lease space on terms that suited them very well but had no reason to bend towards the requirements of small users of property.

A modern approach to supporting business

This traditional arrangement is not at all suitable for modern start-up businesses.  People starting a new business often have high expectations of success, but often limited resources and modest space requirements; because of this, the standard form of lease for a fixed term of years is nothing more than a straitjacket.  If the tenant is successful, they are highly likely to want to move to larger premises; this will entail extricating themselves from their first property (if they can) and taking on more obligations in a larger place.  If they can’t, they will be obliged to honour the terms of the formal lease, often for a considerable number of years, placing a large financial toll upon their already failing business and restricting their ability to grow and achieve their objectives. This also places a psychological barrier in the way of new business owners, who may be deterred by the daunting prospect of failure.

Capital Space set out to encourage people to start and to grow new businesses by eliminating the constrictions involved with traditional commercial leases. Initially, a variety of units, ranging in size and type, were made available for use on terms that simply required the occupier to behave, and to pay a license fee on the first day of every month.

The system works similar to that of a hotel; the enterprise centre owns the property and undertake all the management including: insurance, maintenance, security, waste management, provision of telecoms and cleaning. The occupier is free to concentrate on making a success of their business – and when the first premise is outgrown, the business can simply upscale to a larger unit.

A successful venture

The Colchester Business and Seedbed Centre was the first manifestation of this concept, providing 43 separate premises ranging in size from 20.4 sq. m. (220 sq. ft.) to 206 sq. m. (2,215 sq. ft.). The company purchased the buildings on 31 December 1998 and trading began the next day. The idea proved to be very popular, resulting in the centre becoming full very early in 1999 and staying at or close to full occupancy ever since.

Building on this success, our business has grown to include a further eight business centres, each larger than the last, and each incorporating modern changes as the requirements of our customers change.

Different from the rest

Throughout the past two decades, Capital Space has consistently stood out within the market place in providing a solution that supports the ambitions of business owners.  We pride ourselves on offering transparent, easy-to-understand prices, with no hidden extras and great value for money. Our monthly contracts are also written in Plain English and carry the Crystal Mark for the clarity of our terms and conditions. 

Almost as important to our business as our determination to provide unmatched value for our customers, is our enthusiasm to ensure that our employees receive training and acquire skills that challenge them and provide satisfaction. By selecting good people and looking after them, they in turn have shown that they will ensure our customers receive only the best treatment.

Enterprise Centres are set up to revolutionise the relationship between tenants and landlords, and to provide businesses with a steady platform for growth.  It’s proved to be a winning formula – and we’re looking forward to continuing to support business owners in achieving their dreams.  

To find out how CapitalSpace   virtual offices or business premises

could benefit your growing business,

call 0800 107 3667