Six steps to finding your perfect business location

For many online self-starters the option of running a business from home is very appealing, but some trades it's not an option. 

If you're a business that needs it's own location, maybe you have a dream spot in mind. It might be an airy terrace down the road that streams the right light onto your work; or a cozy inner city hub, half an hour from suburbia. 

Whatever your business may be, if it requires a location, the hunt for a suitable and special commercial space is a tough one. Here are a few handy tips on what to remember when looking for a space.

1. Go where your potential customers lie

Understanding where you're most likely to receive support for your business is vital to its survival. When picking a location, think of where there may be an opportunity for your business to occupy an existing market or even target a niche.

It’s also great to have an idea of the larger trends and values that help you determine who your potential customer is. For example, a decision to set up a bike shop on a bicycle path is good, but also considering the volume of people that cycle in an area is a winning one.

2. Check out the competition, and learn

Learning from the success of others is a valuable exercise. You'll learn who you're competing with and the hot spots for your business to grow. Set aside some time to  visit similar businesses to yours and pinpoint the areas the succeed in. You may even be able to tap into communities of businesses like yours that support each other, or find areas that your business could grow in, that have little competition.

3. Do your legal homework

Leasing or purchasing a property for commercial purposes can be tricky. A lot of businesses don’t realise that the legal fees and planning restrictions for business leases are different to their residential counterparts. Familiarise yourself with the legal framework and council planning rules under which to operate (especially if you’re planning to serve food!). It will end up saving you time, stress and money in the long run.

4. Budget accordingly

Unexpected costs can easily incur when trying to open a new business, or relocate your existing one. Make sure to look at your finances  and plan for everything you want to do. Keep in mind the less obvious costs, such as paperwork fees and any planning hurdles you might come up against. A tight wallet means having to compromise, but a firm grip on the finances means greater flexibility and preparation.

5. Be polite yet persistent

Lets say you’ve found and fallen in love with a place, but if it’s really perfect, chances are somebody else thinks so as well. In the hunt for a great location you’ll be up against other businesses. Pitch your case to the property agent, highlighting why this could be a great fit for your business and why you’d be a respectful tenant. If you don’t get a call back, you call them! Politely ask at what stage the decision is at and enquire as to anything you could do to make it smoother. If it’s a no, ask why and move on in your hunt.

6. All hands on deck

Once the ship is sailing you’ll want to jump on board immediately and start pleasing customers. There’s nothing more frustrating than having sorted all the paperwork but not being able to open yet for sales. Ask for help renovating, involve friends, family, anyone who can lend a good eye or a helping hand. Communicate your vision clearly and make use of everyone’s strengths. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts! Besides, the opening party will be all the more fun if you already have some great people to invite.

Bianca Farmakis