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What to Look For in a Business Location

– Contributed content –

Sidewalk cafe

(Pexels, Pixabay)

20 Oct. 2019. Whether you’re setting up a new business or looking to expand your existing business into new areas, it is absolutely crucial to find the right location.

Where you set-up will significantly affect your ability to find and connect with customers, the availability of potential staff, the cost of utilities and overheads, conflict with competitors and ultimately, the long-term success of your enterprise.

This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. So take a look at the list below for some key pointers on what you should consider and why.

A healthy customer base 

No matter what your business is, you will sink or float depending on your access to, and connection with, your specific customer base.

So before considering any other variables, you first need to ask yourself: is there a demand for my product or services in this location? Am I going to have an audience here? In other words: don’t start an ice business at the North Pole…

Big cities with growing populations can be great because your potential audience is larger. But competition from other businesses tends to be greater too and your relationship with customers a little less personal.

On the other hand, if your business is niche and the population of your location is small, you might struggle to make the numbers you need to keep yourself afloat. But if you’re selling an innovative solution to a universal problem, you might do better in a small town away from metropolitan competition.

It’s easier to define your business in a small area, connect with locals and form long-lasting relationships. And as more and more corporations take over towns and cities, it can be hard to compete financially.

The only major exception here is if your business operates online, catering to a national or even global audience. Even so, support from the local community is a big boost.

A welcoming community 

Some areas are much more welcoming to new businesses than others. In fact, a few cities like Cedar Hill TX have a special focus on economic development and actively encourage and support new businesses in the region.

Before setting-up your business in a new town or city, you should always research the area’s historical and current business climate. How many new businesses have set up in the area over the last few years? How many have succeeded or failed and why? Are rent and utility prices stable and affordable? How are businesses in the area taxed?

If very few new businesses have been able to thrive in the location you are researching, chances are the community is not so welcoming and succeeding might be an uphill struggle.

Also be wary if the product or service you provide is going to challenge a major existing industry in the area. In some cases this could be beneficial, as the customer base is already waiting for you. But if a town or city has a long-established business that employees large numbers of people, the community might be hostile to an unfamiliar start-up moving in on their territory.

If you are likely to be working with a range of suppliers, it is crucial to check that these businesses will supply to your area, and that they will be able to keep up with demand.

Similarly, if you plan to employ staff, make sure that great staff will be available, trained or qualified to help run your business.

Competition 

This brings us to the topic of competition. A bit of healthy competition can be great for your business. Even better if you can connect with others in your industry, share tips, and push each other to achieve your best.

Competing businesses also suggest a healthy audience for your product or service, and an existing infrastructure. If you provide a product for which customers typically like to comparison-buy, being near a competing business could be useful.

However, you don’t want to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. If you’re up against bigger, long-established, popular businesses with great connections in the area, or if there are simply too many companies competing for the same, small customer base, you are going to struggle.

You need to be really confident that your business is unique enough, and providing a high enough quality, that you can stand out from the crowd. So again, do your research here. If there are competing businesses, visit them, take note of the service they are providing and ask yourself – do we have something new to offer?

The building 

Once you’ve decided on the town or city you want to set up in, you will need to think about the property you want to operate from. There are a few crucial things to consider here.

Is the building newly built or slightly older? Are the plumbing, lighting, electrics and insulation up-to-date and in good working order, or will they need to be replaced? Are the lease-terms and rent favorable?

Aside from the size, condition and modernity of the space, it is important to consider the accessibility of the property.

This is especially true if you want to engage with foot-traffic. If the building is a little off the beaten track, difficult to find, doesn’t have any parking, or is in the wrong part of town, it might not be particularly alluring to new customers, and it could be tough to attract people your way.

If you’re moving to a city which has distinct areas for certain industries – retail, culture, fashion, restaurants, commercial etc. think twice before going against the grain. It’s worth taking note of the general condition of the neighborhood, and be wary of crime rates and vandalism.

It’s also worth researching the history of the building you’re moving into. What is its commercial history within the community? Is there a way to link this to your contemporary business? Is there an associated community you can connect to?

And there we have it. Use these pointers to get the ideas flowing and help you find the perfect place to set up your business.

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