Before you start looking for a business location, you should have a clear picture of what you have and what you want to have in future. Coming up with that picture is a time-consuming process, which is both tedious and exciting – but you need to give it the attention that it deserves.
Although many business mistakes can be corrected later, a bad location is sometimes impossible to repair.
Here are some other factors that you should consider when choosing the best business location:
Style of Operation
Is your business going to be formal or elegant? Your location needs to be consistent with a particular image or style. If you own a retail business, do you want a traditional store or an online store?
When considering demographics, you should think about two important angles. First, you should think about who your customers are and how close they are to your location. This is critical for some service providers and retailers but not so for other businesses. The demographic profile that you have for your target audience will allow you to make this decision.
Secondly, you should consider your community. Is your customer base local, and does a percentage of it support your business or match your customer profile? When choosing communities that are largely dependent on a specific industry, you need to be careful because a slump can be bad for business.
For many businesses, foot traffic is very important. Nobody wants to be tucked away in a corner where potential customers will pass him/her by. On the other hand, if your business needs confidentiality, you should opt for a low-traffic area.
Find an ideal location by monitoring the traffic outside a certain location at different times of the day and different times of the week. Doing so is a great way of confirming whether the traffic meets your needs.
Parking and Accessibility
Consider the accessibility of the location for every person who will be coming there. If you are on a busy street, is it easy for cars to get in and out of your parking lot? Your facility also needs to be accessible to people with disabilities. Which sort of deliveries are you likely to receive, and will your suppliers be able to access the facility easily?
If you are considering an office building, ask yourself whether you need the keys for periods when the main doors are locked. If the building closes on weekends and you would like to work then, you should look elsewhere. Make sure that there is sufficient parking for employees and customers.
Just as with foot traffic, you should monitor the facility and see how the parking demand fluctuates. Moreover, you should make sure that the parking lot is adequately lit and well maintained.
Are competing companies close by? In some instances, this can be advantageous if comparison shopping is popular. You might end up catching the excess from nearby businesses if you are situated near an entertainment area or restaurant. However, if you are selling CJ aviation fuel pumps and there is a competitor nearby that sells the same thing, start looking elsewhere. When consumers are looking for very specific products, they understand that their choices may be limited, so they will probably only visit one location.
Site’s Image and History
What does the address say about your business? If you are targeting a local market, you should ensure that your location reflects the picture that you want to project. It would also be a good idea to check the history of the site and consider how it has changed over the years.
Make sure that you ask about previous tenants. If you are opening a hotel where five hotels have failed, you will be starting with a serious handicap.
Presented by a BusinessTown partner
How to Find a Location for Your Business: 12 Key Considerations
Want to find a location for your business? There's more to consider than cost.
Do you want to find a location for your business?
Well, one of the foundational concepts taught in almost every introductory marketing course is The Four P's: Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. "Place" refers generally to distribution, i.e., where your customer evaluates and ultimately receives your product or service. The location of your business.
While this may not matter much for people who work virtually, or who run a business that drop-ships from a third party, it's critical for restaurants, retailers, and even many service businesses.
Ironically, while "place" is often the most permanent of the four P's, it's also often the most overlooked—which is why finding the right location for your business can make a huge impact on it's performance.
Finding a location for your business is about more than just choosing a building. Perhaps for you, opening your business in your own town, or even your part of town, is a given. But consider the big picture:
- State - Income taxes and sales taxes vary greatly from state to state, as do regulatory requirements. Is the state you live in friendly to entrepreneurship? To the specific type of business you want to run? Now might be the time to consider a move if it isn't, or possibly to open your business in a nearby state if you live near a state line. The Small Business Survival Index ranks the various U.S. states on how friendly they are to small business.
- City - Rent and other costs, availability of labor, taxes, regulations and government economic incentives can also vary greatly from city to city, even within the same state. Or maybe a small town is the perfect spot for your business. Entrepreneur Magazine publishes an annual list of the Best U.S. Cities for Small Business. Under 30 CEO also has a list of the best cities for young entrepreneurs.
- Part of town - What kind of commute is involved? Is the part of town consistent with the image for your business? Rent varies greatly according to location.
- Location relative to streets, parking, and other businesses - Do you need to be visible and/or easily accessible to pedestrian and automobile traffic? Will being close to businesses that draw a similar clientele help your business? For example, a sporting goods store or health food store might do very well next to a gym.
- Type of location - Do you need office space, retail or warehouse? Retail is generally the most expensive of the three.
There are many factors to consider in finding the location for your business.
While cost is obviously a major consideration, you must also think about these 12 incredibly important factors that'll effect your business.
When you're in the process of finding a location for your business, think about who the location is going to be important to. Will the location be a major factor for...
- You? The space has to work for you, or it won't work—if this one doesn't feel right, time to find another location for your business. Remember, you're the one who has to work there every day.
- Your customers? It also has to work for your customers, or it won't work. No customers = no business.
- Your employees? This issue may not be as critical at first, especially if you don't have any employees yet. But the ability to attract and keep good employees will be affected by your location.
- Strategic partners? While this may not seem like a big issue, the reality is that strategic partnerships happen more easily when the partners are local to each other. Why do you think that certain areas become hubs for certain types of business, such as Silicon Valley for the tech industry?
- Potential investors or buyers? You may not even be thinking about that yet, but potential investors looking at the long-term value of the business will see location as an important factor.
- Cost - Most obviously, can you afford it? Also, though, consider whether your customers and employees can afford it. For example, is there free parking, or is it expensive? Will higher rent cause you to charge higher prices to your customers? That's not necessarily a bad thing, but a factor to consider. What about taxes? Income taxes and sales taxes vary greatly from state to state, and if you buy your own property,
- Convenience - Is it easy to find? Is parking close by? Consider your clients. If you're dealing with pregnant mothers and the elderly, they may have a different concept of "convenient".
- Safety - This is an increasingly important issue for both customers and employees. Is the parking close by? Well lit? Is there security on the premises?
- Prestige - Would a downtown address add credibility? Will wealthy clients favor a business in their own neighborhood? Some places even provide virtual offices with prestigious addresses, such as Beverly Hills, Silicon Valley, or Manhattan.
- Traffic - Retailers and restaurants love it, office workers don't.
- Facility requirements - Do you have any special needs, such as high power consumption or specialized wiring? Do you need meeting space, but only occasionally? You might consider a shared office suite (often called executive suites) in that case.
- Zoning - Many cities have very strict zoning requirements. Make sure your business is even allowed there before you sign the lease!
As you can see, a fully informed decision involves a fairly complex matrix of issues. Determine your priorities, keep an open mind about your options, do your research, and get ready to make one of the most important decisions about your business.