Dear M & M: Am I better off leasing space or buying a building to launch my business? — Jonathan

Dear Jonathan: There are pros and cons to either decision, and it is very situational depending on available space, costs and if you are a destination driven dependent business.

Looking at the positive sides to buying your own building, here are some things on the plus side. Paying rent does not provide any equity to a balance sheet like owning a building. Making improvements to property owned by someone else might not be the wisest choice in spending your money.

As a building owner, you might need to get planning and zoning involved if you want to move a wall, but you are the property owner and don’t have to get a landlord’s permission. You have control of the property to sublease, remodel or landscape when you own it.

When you make a purchase to buy a building, upfront money is generally many times more than a deposit and first month’s rent. Keeping in mind many high traffic locations are not for sale. Try buying a spot in a food court in any mall or 400-square feet inside Walmart or Fry’s food stores.

Leases can be for a short-term fixed time. Buying and selling property is dependent on market conditions. They say there are three things important to the survival of any business — location, location, location. We all realize that location is important, but being the single determining factor on the success of your business there are other things to consider.

From appreciating assets to upfront spending, where will you be better off when you are done doing your business and decide to sell or just close it down? What you pay on a lease is a 100% deductible business expense. Paying off a mortgage on a building, the interest is a deductible expense business expense; what you paid on the principle isn’t.

Bottom line: Check with your accountant to see what would be best for your situation. Better yet, find out about buying the property and then leasing it back to your business.

ASK M&M is prepared and submitted by Mark Schmitt, director of the Small Business Development Center at Cochise College; and Mignonne Hollis, executive director at the Arizona Economic Development Foundation. To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Cochise College (520) 515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Arizona Regional’ Economic Development Foundation at (520) 458-6948 or email hollism@aredf.org; www.aredf.org.