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The top 7 factors for a good small business location

By Samantha Garner | February 2, 2013

small_business_locationThere are many ways to figure out if the location you’ve been eyeing is the best one for your small business, but at GoForth, we believe there are seven things that can have an impact on the success of your business. Consider these seven things when analyzing your small business’ proposed location:

1) Accessibility
How accessible is each possible location to your customers? How easily can they drive, or get there by public transport? It’s important that your location isn’t difficult to find — customers have only so much patience if they get lost. Include directions on your website and include a map. And make sure the map works on any associated mobile map apps.

Lack of parking is a complete turn off for a lot of customers. Make sure you estimate business parking needs well in advance.

Also, provide wheelchair access as well as child-friendly features if necessary.

Your staff will also need to get to work easily. Is the location miles away from anywhere? If so, you may have trouble drawing from a prospective pool of employees compared to a location with good transit access.

2) Competition
What businesses are nearby, and how directly do they compete with yours? Often, being near a major competitor can be very beneficial for your business — as long as you’re confident in your abilities to compete. In fact, if a competitor has already set up shop in a particular place, then it’s usually a good sign that customers will come. Being near competition may provide more access to your desired customer base, though you’ll definitely need to work extra hard to attract and retain their interest.

3) Business Environment
Is your business environment a busy downtown location? A popular shopping centre? A remote location? Consider the types of businesses nearby and their potential impacts on your own — customers they may attract, volume of traffic they attract, proximity to your location, etc. Also consider the health of the business environment and the potential for growth in the area. If businesses seem to always be closing down, it might not bode well for you. Spending time monitoring a location’s business environment will help you to find out if your own business has a shot of success there. Don’t be shy, either. Talk to other businesses in the area and ask their opinions on the business environment.

4) Resources
Your location must also provide the resources that you need to run your business. And we don’t just mean office supplies. Research the municipal services provided in the area like police and fire protection, public transit and sewer and water supplies. Also consider how close suppliers, raw materials and customers are. It’s a good idea to check out other resources you may need like postal service, telephone and internet service, banking, and security services.

5) Site Availability and Regulations
There are municipal regulations involved with almost any small business location. Firstly, and this may be a no-brainer, but you need to make sure that the site you want is unoccupied. It must also be available in the terms you would like to operate — renting, leasing or buying. (More about that here.)  Zoning regulations, municipal licences and taxes must be considered too. Information on local zoning bylaws can often be found at your city or town’s website or band office. Licences and taxes may be required in certain areas.

6) Costs
There are lots of costs that’ll vary depending on location. Rent in a downtown office is almost guaranteed to be higher than a similar-sized office just outside the downtown core. Sales royalties paid to the landlord, landscaping, water, power, fuel, security and storage fees are other costs to take into account. What needs to happen inside your space to make it ready for business? This construction is known as leasehold improvements — sometimes paid by the landlord (or owner) of the building, sometimes paid by you and sometimes shared. Make sure you consider the cost of getting “ready for business.”

7) Physical Layout
The layout of your location, both inside and out, need to work for your business. You may have some equipment or machinery that has to fit inside the location, or maybe a pile of inventory that you need to store there. Check out our tips for assessing the physical layout of your potential location.

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