September 30, 2010

Location, Location, Location

SmallBiz Stew. Location, location, location photo by:
Where you choose to set up shop can be the deciding factor in your business success. When choosing a location there is so much to consider and decide on. You need to decide on things like if you should rent or own the store front for your business. There is a lot to consider and in order to make the right decision there are certain key things you must do.

 So what are those key things to do in order to find the right location? I have broken them down into four different parts.
  • Research
  • Meet
  • Compare
  • Decide

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
  • Remodeling/improvements
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance/janitorial
  • Zoning laws and restrictions
  • Permits required
  • Storage
  • Furniture/equipment
  • Safety/security
  • Expansion/remodeling
  • Environmental/janitorial
  • Insurance
  • Access/parking
  • Appearance
  • Mail/shipping/receiving
  • Lightening/visuals
  • Wiring/data lines
  • Tenants/neighbors
  • Area demographics
  • Space
  • Traffic
  • 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.
  1. Does this location meet your location requirements?
  2. Rent
  3. Utilities included?
  4. If not utilities estimate?
  5. Lease options
  6. Advantages
  7. Disadvantages
  8. Tenant responsibilities
  9. (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!

Where will your business be located?

September 28, 2010

It's time to get organized

SmallBiz Stew; photo by
Today’s blog is about getting organized by creating an organization system. When you start a new business you are bombarded with information; some you keep while other papers you dump. Through-out your journey to start your business you will come upon paperwork that you must keep, like tax forms. It is important for small business owners to create a system that tracks, informs and stores the ins and outs of their business. There is so much on an owner’s plate that it is imperative for small business owners to have a system in place that will help business efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Now that you have started a business it’s now time to get organized and create a system to help you keep track of your business.  Your organizational system should be able to: store, list, track, and update.

Physical files
First things first, set up your physical files to help store and organize the abundance of information you have. You can purchase a small file cabinet or even try buying a used one. The point is to find a suitable storage where you can store your important papers.

Tip: Humans are creatures of habit, (at least I know I am), so it is best to get in the habit of utilizing your filling system and storing your information in the appropriate places soon as you get them.

I have divided the organization flow into four different parts: financial, supply, operation and legal. This will help you identify quickly where to file and find your information. Use the list below as a guide to help you decide what files you need and how to label them.

Financial ­– More and more companies are choosing to send bills electronically as a way to cut back on cost, and to be more eco-friendly (well at least I like think they are). However, there are companies who still send those ‘irritating’ little reminders of our debt through the mail. Your financial folder is where you will store your bill copies as well as bank statements and any other financial information. 

File folders:
  • Account Payable
  • Payroll
  • Banking
  • Recipes

Supply-The first business that I started was selling information and I met vendor during a convention that I attended. He was selling As Seen on TV products, but at the time it didn’t fit with my current business. Even though I didn’t have any use for his service, I still held on to his contact information. A year later when I started my next business adventure I remembered the contact I made and because I kept up with his information, I didn’t have to worry about the hassle of finding a vendor. You may not need the service of a specific supplier at the time but it may come a time in the future when you may need it. So it’s a good idea to have a system in place to keep track of suppliers and distributors, even the ones you are not actively working with

File folders:
  • Distributors
  • Equipment
  • Suppliers
Operation- If you plan to have employees then it will be necessary to have a system set up to keep up with your employee’s information such as tax forms. Your operational folders should maintain all the pertinent information needed to maintain your business from marketing to your support system. Your Operation files will be the most used files you have.

File folders:
  • Customer contact
  • Customer service
  • Entertainment/meals
  • Personnel files
  • Marketing
  • Network Contacts
  • Associations/Support

Legal- Since it’s required to keep your tax papers it is only makes sense that you have a system in place to keep track of this information. Your legal folders should contain all your legal paperwork or information for easy access.

File Folders:
Miscellaneous Information

Computer files

I’ve always been a stickler about having a paper and an electronic tracking system. Although, I keep important papers, I also scan them into my computer system and keep them stored on a disc or a flash drive for safe keeping. So of course I am going to encourage you to do the same. Not all the information you receive should be kept and a lot of times a scanned copy will work in lieu of the hardcopy.  You need to create a system on your computer that will allow you track and store important information.

One of my favorite parts of Microsoft Office is their program OneNote which allows you to keep track of your business in one place. You can create different tabs and store and track different aspects of your business. Most new computers come with an abundance of programs that are designed to keep you and your small business organized. Check out SBS blog Software that's perfect for your budget For more on affordable software you can use to manage your business. Another useful blog that gives some great insight on home business software is The Freelance Sourc.

Company statistic sheet

Even though I’m discussing this last this actually should be the first file added to your organization system, and that’s your company statistic sheet (CSS).

Your CSS should list all your business vital statistics. This will store all your important information and dates related to your business and should always be easily accessible. A copy should be filed under Operation and also stored electronically.

Your CSS should include the following:
  • Company name
  • Ownership (with the necessary ownership percentage listed as well)
  • Tax-id
  • State-id
  • Date of incorporation
  • Corporation number
  • Licenses
  • Permit#
  • Insurance provider/agent
  • Insurance number
  • Date of instatement
As you grow and change, you should keep track of your vital statistics, this will come in handy as times goes on.  Having all this information accessible in one place will save you valuable time.

Now you are ready to start implementing your organization system and getting your small business organized. 
What is in your business organization system?

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My goal is to discuss topics that will simplify the intricate parts of starting a small business to help alleviate some of the stress that’s associated with small business start-up. Did you find this information to be helpful, if so then please donate. Any amount is appreciated.