Searching for a new location to setup your small business is similar to looking for a new home in that you will enter the search with the perfect home or business location in mind, but ultimately may need to make some concessions or pay more than you had planned. There some other similarities in the selection process in choosing a home or business location, and by utilizing the skills of a real estate agent, you can quickly weed out the undesirable locations. Nailing down the best location for your small business may be easier when following these tips.
Nearby Businesses – Placing your small business on the same block as another business offering the same products or services could be disaster even if only through the nearby competition. If your small business, however, offers a similar but larger selection, then go for it. Think of the Julia Roberts/Hugh Grant movie Notting Hill where Grant’s character owned a book store that only sold travel books. A new book store nearby that sells a wider range of books may bring in more business.
For greater success potential, match your small business to existing businesses in the area that might share the same clientele. Examples might include setting up a jewelry store by a travel agency, a gift shop or flower shop next to a hospital, a lawyer’s office next to a mortgage lender or other business that requires legal interaction, or bookstore, magazines stand, or a food cart near any large business, college, courthouse or hospital.
Stop Traffic – A storefront design that stands out among others in the block is one thing, but how about a small business located on a busy street where vehicle traffic waits for changing traffic lights or stop sign right in front of the building? Passengers tend to look around as they wait and will notice your store. Homeowners would not be pleased living in a high traffic area but for the small business owner, the stopped traffic reading their business name, seeing the storefront and hours of operation is free advertising.
Zoning – Visit city hall to ask about zoning in the area of interest. Zoning applies to the purpose for the buildings in the area, like residential, commercial, or agriculture, though the wording of the zoning codes will vary by municipality. The map zones and names are laid out by local government to control things like the size of the building, its use or what can be placed on the exterior of the buildings, like signage.
By checking zoning restrictions, you can ensure that space next to your desired small business location cannot end up occupied by a strip club or x-rated bookstore. In addition to zoning restrictions, check with the city about ordinances that may apply to the area, such as restrictions on hours of operation or what you can place outside like a bench or sandwich board to advertise specials.
Easy Access – In addition to looking for handicap accessible space for your small business, such as doors wide enough to accommodate a wheel chair, look for transportation sources. Does a bus or metro train stop nearby or is parking available either at the curb or at a nearby parking lot?
Inspection – Wise house hunters will have a perspective home inspected before making an offer. Obtaining a building inspection, particularly in an older building that may contain lead-based paint or asbestos tile, have little or no insulation (meaning high utility bills), or electrical wiring unable to accommodate heavy use of electronic equipment is a wise step for the small business owner.
Sources: Denver Zoning Codes
Small Business Administration: Pick a Location