If you’re in the market for business real estate, there are a lot of factors you must consider in your search. Finding the best location for your business or startup will depend on your budget, business type, company needs, and customer type.
Before we dig into how to find the best location for your business, let’s talk about why location matters.
Location, location, location
You’ve probably heard real estate agents espousing the importance of location, and there’s a really good reason for that: Location is one of the most important factors in your business’ success. A great company can only go so far when the location is wrong, and sometimes, “bad” locations don’t seem problematic at first.
Something as simple as the odor emanating from a nearby dog food factory or a loud mechanic shop next door can make an otherwise great location a bad choice for your business, so look at your surroundings and consider the effects they could have on your company.
How to find the best location for your business
Now that we’re clear on the importance of location, let’s go over some tips on finding the best location for your small business or startup.
1. Look for adequate exposure.
“Out of sight, out of mind.” Your customers need to be able to see you to use your services. The more visible your location is, the more buzz you’ll create with your target customers. “Did you see the new law office that’s opening over on Maple Street?”
2. Steer clear of the competition.
Unless you’re so much better than your competitors that there’s no real competition, stay away from them. You need to surround your business with complementary businesses, not stiff competition that can funnel your customers away.
Plus, if your competitors have been in that location for a while, they may have already saturated the hyper-local market, making your move to the same location a bit pointless. This is one case where you should give your competition some space and find a place to claim as your own.
3. Stick to your brand image.
Is this location going to support your brand image? Confuse it? Tarnish it? It can be difficult to say no to a location that fits your budget, is surrounded by complementary businesses, but doesn’t fit with your brand image.
However, a tech company would never open in a worn-down building on the square and a hair salon wouldn’t situate itself among doctor’s offices.
It might take longer to find the right location for your brand, but it’s worth it to project a consistent brand image.
4. Check the hiring pool.
Will your new location be convenient for your new employees? Do some research around the area, finding out about the local labor market, average rate of employment, commute expectations, etc. You don’t want to settle on a location only to find that your employees will have a horrific commute or that there just aren’t enough employees in the area to fill your open positions.
Don’t need full time employees? Skip the commute concerns and consider hiring virtual help to handle ongoing tasks like answering phones, making appointments, and managing your email inbox.
5. Look into the future.
Where will your business be in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
If you think your business will experience growth over the coming years, you should start thinking about that future growth right now. It’s important as you look for a location because you’ll want to choose a place that will accommodate your projected growth, not stifle it.
6. Keep safety in mind.
Is your location in a good neighborhood? Check out the crime rate before you make a decision on opening your business in any location. You want to make sure you and your employees will feel safe at the workplace, walking to and from your vehicles, taking deliveries, etc.
If employees feel unsafe at work, they’re more likely to leave and find another job. Avoid this by taking safety into account when looking for locations.
7. Check those zoning regulations.
Zoning regulations, codes, permits, inspections, and licenses may be pesky to cooperate with, but they’re necessary for a city’s infrastructure.
You’ll want to make sure the type of business you’re opening is allowed at your location according to property zones. Your business will also have to be up to code.
Check with your local planning agency to find out how property is zoned in your area.
8. Reality check your budget.
Moving into a new business location can be pretty expensive, so a working budget is crucial. It’s not just the cost of purchasing or renting your space–there are several ‘hidden costs’ and other financial factors to consider:
- Renovation costs
- Decoration costs
- Implementation of IT
- Income and sales taxes
- State minimum wage
Make sure you’re choosing the right location for your business and your budget. You won’t last long in a location that is too expensive!