For many small businesses, location can be a key factor in long-term success. For this reason, choosing the best site should be a careful, methodical process covering a number of criteria, among them neighborhood, physical plant and transportation options.
Consider these points in the search for your new company’s home.
- Competitors. A firm that delivers similar products and services to yours can chip away at your customer base. On the other hand, research has shown that several restaurants or retail shops in the same area tend to increase foot traffic, almost always a plus for those vendors.
- Staff. If your company relies on highly skilled or educated workers, a location with nearby universities, community colleges and technical schools may facilitate staff recruitment.
- Customers. The business location you choose should dovetail with your target market across general demographics, including income, education and age.
- Physical plant. Whether a towering skyscraper or a converted bungalow, the building housing your company can figure significantly in your success. Expect higher rents in heavily-trafficked, more urban areas that may be home to upscale boutiques and high-tech start-ups. Lower rents are more likely found away from urban centers and more densely-packed commercial districts. A number of free online tools can help you compare rents by address. For those purchasing their place of business, an official home or building inspection will ensure protection against any unseen or undisclosed structural issues.
- Growth. If your business goals include significant expansion, assure that your potential location will accommodate these changes. A crowded city block may not be a good choice for a small manufacturing outfit with plans to diversify product lines.
- Safety. In considering the location of your business home, be sure to think about your personal safety and the safety of those who may visit you to conduct business. Unsafe areas, or areas with significant criminal activity, may damage your business’s curb appeal and discourage new opportunities. Check with the nearest police station for a history of neighborhood crime.
- Local transportation. Getting clients and prospects to your front door is critical to business success. When choosing your location, be aware of nearby transportation options and routes. Make sure there are ways – whether it’s rails or trails – for people to get to you.
- Long distance transportation. If your market goes beyond city or state lines, or the nature of your industry requires travel, look for a location within easy drive of an airport.
- Financial resources. Though the Internet has broadened commercial financing opportunities, local lenders have a vested interest in supporting community businesses.
- Economic stability. It’s always preferable to site a new company in a neighborhood that either enjoys robust fiscal health or is in a growth mode.
- Business resources. A community with an active chamber of commerce, civic groups and professional organizations provides fertile ground for business development.
If the process still stymies you, particularly if you will be establishing your firm in new territory, consider seeking the advice of a relocation specialist. These professionals can advise you about area demographics, mortgage opportunities, paperwork needed for the move and much more.
While many are attached to real estate companies, an increasing number of independent agencies are popping up nationwide. To find a relocation specialist anywhere in the world visit WORLD WIDE ERC, a training and certification organization for relocation professionals.
Finally, you can never do too much research. As an expert in your chosen field, you already have much of the knowledge, training and skills to make your dream a reality. It’s also likely you’ve cultivated a network of individuals able to help find investors, suppliers and customers.
Even if you are new to a business sector, you can succeed. For an in-depth look at your chosen field, talk with experienced entrepreneurs in the industry, especially those operating outside of your immediate geographic area. They will be more open to help if they know they are not competing with you for customers or clients.