Finding the right location for your business is one of the first things you have to do as an entrepreneur or small business owner, and while it's seems like a pretty simply piece of the complicated puzzle, it's actually not easy. For the majority of businesses location could be the difference between success and failure. So where do you even begin when determining the best location? It's overwhelming sometimes, but fortunately it becomes easier if you know what questions to ask yourself before making any decisions.
Check out a few of the tips below sorted by three categories that are most important when looking for a space: The area of the building, the actual building itself, and factors regarding your business specifically.
Always Look at the Demographics of an Area. Hopefully by now you know your target customers and audience, so when looking at the demographics in the area this should match up. This is going to be more important for certain businesses (such as a retailer) than others (such as a law office), but either way it's one of the first things you should consider. Ask yourself if those in the area are in your target demographic, if they have the economy you need for success, and if the area is growing.
Look Out for Nearby Competition. Competition can be a good thing if you want your customers to feel like they can compare businesses and therefore make a decision faster, but for you it may be a negative. Evaluate how competition would affect you and then consider what competition is in the area.
Consider the Foot Traffic of the Area. Again this will be more important for some types of businesses such as retailers; however it's also important to consider if you have a more confidential business such as a medical office. Determine what type of foot traffic you want to help you succeed and then do a scan of the area to see if your goals and the foot traffic line up.
Look at the Success of Other Businesses in the Area. If businesses around this area are thriving then that signals to you that the area is up and coming and customers are active. If an area is thriving then the traffic that those businesses bring in may also help you, so it's a good thing. On the flip side, if businesses seem to be going down hill then you don't want to have to assume you'll be the one to bring the area back to life. This ties in closely with the competition point. Always make sure the businesses are going to help you and not bring you down.
The Building Itself
Is the Building High Quality with a Good History? Look at the bones of the property. Is it in good shape or does it need a rehab? Does the property management company take care of the common areas? A great way to assess this point is to talk to previous tenants and neighbors and see what they think about the property and it's past.
How Much Would It Cost Monthly and What Does the Lease Look Like? This is an obvious one. Consider your budget and then look to see the terms of the lease. Pay particular attention to what happens if you want to get out of your lease just in case something comes up. Also, make sure there isn't anything forbidden on the property that you want to be a part of your business, such as artwork or staying open after hours.
Check for Adequate Parking and Accessibility. This is another point that sometimes gets overlooked. The business many have everything you want, but that won't mean much if it's hard to access, which usually means there isn't much parking. This is important not only for customers but also for your employees. Think about not only accessibility, but whether or not the parking is well-lit and well taken care of to help make everyone feel comfortable.
How Does Your Business Plan to Operate? When choosing a location, you have to think about whether your style of operation is going to be formal or casual. The location has a lot to do with the vibe you're hoping to put out. This connects closely with understanding demographics and the audience.
What Is the Size of Your Business? Consider the size of your current business and how you hope it will grow. Is the space going to be large enough? Be honest with yourself on this point. There is nothing worse than leasing a space and finding that it's not a good fit with the size of your company--this is one of the easiest points to get right!
Make Sure You Can Find Qualified Employees in the Area. Evaluating your customers is important, but you also have to consider the employees in the area. Do you need college graduates to work for you, or are you hoping to hire students in High School?