|SmallBiz Stew. Location, location, location photo by: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/751107|
So what are those key things to do in order to find the right location? I have broken them down into four different parts.
A few years back I wanted to open up a beauty supply store. I wanted to do that not because it was always a dream of mine but because I found an underserved area where the beauty supply store would flourish. How did I know it would flourish there? Well the answer is simple; I did my homework and researched the area. I did a demographic study, target market research and I actually surveyed the residents of the area. The research I did not only proved I was right about the location but it helped convince my lender of this as well.
When small business owners are considering where they should open shop there are certain aspects to consider, but before you can go looking for a place you have to know what those attributes should be. Use the below exercise to compile a list of attributes that you require for your store.
Make a list of all the features that your location must possess. Keep in mind space, design and money.
Example: If you believe that foot traffic will be detrimental to the success of your business then walk-thru traffic should be on your list of attributes. You want to make sure your store is located where a lot of walk-thru traffic will have access to it.
Once you have decided on your location and space attributes, it’s time to meet with a real estate agent. A real estate agent has access and the capability to locate store fronts/offices that meet your requirements. Making an appointment with a real estate agent will take the hassle out of locating potential locations.
Tip: I am a big fan of networking because I believe WOM (word of mouth) is a powerful tool. So, if you don’t have one in mind, then you should ask around about potential real estate agents.
Once you have meet with a real estate agent and begin to visit potential locations; make sure to keep thorough notes and measurements and if possible take pictures.
When you visit each property make sure to note the following:
- Cost of rent
- Length of lease and subletting
- Zoning laws and restrictions
- Permits required
- Wiring/data lines
- Area demographics
- Tenant responsibilities (i.e. utilities)
Try to record as much information as possible; this will help you decide on which location is best for your business.
Now that you have visited several different locations it’s time to compare them and decide which location is best for you.
When deciding on a location makes sure to consider what your responsibilities will be at each location. Are you expected to pay rent and utilities? Don’t assume or you will end up over paying for a location.
In order to correctly decide on the right location, you need to compare the locations. I’ve started a list for you to use to compare locations. Add a least five additional questions to the list, and you can even select them from the previous list of attributes you noted.
- Does this location meet your location requirements?
- Utilities included?
- If not utilities estimate?
- Lease options
- Tenant responsibilities
- (Add five more questions)
After you compare location, it’s time to decide on where your business will be located. Finding the right location can be tedious work but it is also the fun part of starting a business.
Tip: Once you have selected a location it can be a very exciting feeling but don’t jump the gun and sign so quick. I always suggest visiting with your lawyer and letting him review your lease agreement prior to signing. Your lawyer can save you time and money on a bad lease agreement that can bind you and your business to a bad deal. Although we all are reluctant to part with the $100.00 standard fee for an hour of a lawyer time, but it is definitely worth it. Look at it this way, if you sign that lease without your lawyer attention you can end up tripling your lawyer fee when he is later called in to get you out of that bad deal. So you decide now which is better and if the $100.00 investment is worth it.
The location you decide should meet all your requirements, while falling within your budget. When you’re ready to decide on a location make sure it’s visible and easy for your target market to get to. After researching, meeting with a real estate agent, and comparing locations, it’s now time to decide where you will open shop!