Finding the best location for your small business can be tricky. There are so many factors to consider, such as parking, accessibility, nearby competition, the size of the location, and how well the location will work for your daily business life.
To help you organize your search and narrow it down to the best options, we’ve created two free guides: The Location Checklist and the Location Analysis Grid. You can use these two free PDF documents to help you track location considerations such as:
Does the location’s layout fit my requirements?
How much will it cost, and how long will it take, to get my internet and phone up and running?
What lifestyle factors, schools, and community activities are present?
What will my insurance cost at this type of location?
Later on, will this location be able to accommodate growth of my business?
Ready to take the plunge on leasing a location for your small business? Review the following components that should be stated in your commercial lease or rental agreement, and consider your requirements for each. Also consider which of these may give you leverage during negotiations, and which you can afford to back down on.
Names of Landlord & Tenant
Address of the premises
Rent amount, payment terms, late payment penalties and any allowable or scheduled increases
Items included in rent:
Description of rental space: square footage, available parking
Deciding where to open up shop is a major consideration for every small business owner. We’ve talked about how to perform neighbourhood research and shared the top 7 factors for a good small business location. Now we’d like to help you organize your search even further with our 20-question location checklist to help you find your best small business location. These are just some of the things you’ll need to ask yourself when searching for your ideal small business location:
Do the zoning requirements allow for my business type?
What is the condition of the building – are any repairs or renovations required?
Does the location’s layout fit my requirements?
Is the location the appropriate size for my business?
Is the location suitable for my daily commute?
Do the surrounding businesses bring favourable traffic to the location?
Does my target market have access to this location?
Is the location suitable for a substantial portion of my target market?
Do the leasing, renting or buying terms fit my requirements?
Are my signs and outdoor advertisements visible to traffic?
Is the labour force in the area suitable for my staff requirements?
Does the location meet my accessibility requirements?
Is parking available and affordable for customers and staff? Is public transportation available?
Is the location consistent with the image I’ve communicated through branding and marketing?
Am I close enough to utilities, suppliers and manufacturers? Can deliveries be made to this location?
Are the costs of transporting goods and shipping to and from this location similar to or lower than other location options?
Are competitors located nearby and, if so, am I confident in my ability to compete?
Is the crime rate in the area tolerable for my business? Are security services available?
Later on, will this location be able to accommodate the growth of my business?
How long is the lease and does this fit with my requirements?
When scouting out the best locations for your small business, proximity to competition, accessibility to customers and the surrounding business environment are just the tip of the iceberg. The layout – both internal and external – of your small business’ location needs to work for you as well.
For example, you may have equipment or machinery that needs to fit into the space. If you’re running a retail business, you’ll need to think about the “flow” of the store once everything is set up, plus consider room for a till and things like changing rooms. For restaurants and cafés, you need to think about kitchen space and room for tables – not to mention customers and wait staff.
What to keep in mind when considering the layout of your small business’ location
How many employees will be in the space at one time? Is there room to swing a cat (so to speak) once everyone’s assembled and working?
Does the location give you the storage or warehouse space you need?
How can you divide the space between public and private?
If parking at your small business location is a concern, is there enough?
Do you need a loading dock or room for delivery vehicles?
If you run an industrial small business, is the ceiling height adequate for your needs?
For manufacturing small businesses or those with major pieces of equipment, is there room? (Don’t guesstimate. Measure – twice!)
Look at floor plans carefully and take a walk around, both inside and outside the space. Consider enlisting the help of an architect, commercial office designer or consultant to help you plan – for the future as well. You never know how your small business layout needs can change in the future!
For more reading on choosing the best location for your small business: