Several things go into the perfect small business location. We’ve identified seven of some of the most important things to keep in mind when analyzing your small business’ proposed location:
How easily can your customers drive to you, or get there by public transport? Your location must be easy to find — customers have only so much patience for getting lost. Include directions on your website, with a map.
In many cases, lack of parking will be a complete turn off for customers. Make sure you figure this out before you commit to a location.
Also, provide wheelchair access as well as child-friendly features if necessary.
Think about your employees, too. Is the location miles away from anywhere? If so, you may have trouble tempting prospective employees if you don’t have good transit access.
What businesses are nearby, and how directly do they compete with you? Often, being near a major competitor can be good 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. However, you’ll need to work extra hard to attract and retain customer interest.
3) Business Environment
Is your business environment a busy downtown core? A popular shopping centre? A rural area? Consider the types of businesses nearby and the customers they may attract, volume of traffic they bring in, proximity to your location, etc. Also consider the potential for growth in the area. If businesses seem to always be closing down, it might be a great area for your location. Spend some time monitoring a prospective location’s business environment to help find out if you could succeed there.
4) Physical Layout
The layout of your location has to be conducive to a smooth working environment. You may have some equipment or machinery that has to fit inside the location, or inventory that you need to store there. How will customers and employees get around? Will the layout help or hinder them? Check out our tips for assessing the physical layout of your potential location.
5) Site Availability and Regulations
There are regulations to keep in mind with almost any small business location. The site must also be available to get in the way you have in mind — renting, leasing or buying. (More about that here.) Zoning regulations, municipal licences and taxes have to be considered too. Check with your city or town’s website or band office for more on local zoning bylaws, licences, and taxes.
Costs will depend on the location. Downtown rent is almost guaranteed to be higher than a similar-sized office further away. Sales royalties paid to the landlord, landscaping, water, power, fuel, security and storage fees are other costs to take into account. What about leasehold improvements – construction you’ll need to undertake to be ready for business? This construction is sometimes paid by the landlord (or owner) of the building, sometimes by you and sometimes shared.
What resources that you need to run your business? Research municipal services like police and fire protection, public transit and sewer and water supplies. Also consider your proximity to 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.
How did you decide on your small business’ location? Let us know in the comments!