Grow: Location, Location, Location

Are you getting ready to start a business and thinking about your business location? Maybe your business is growing (congratulations!) and you’re contemplating expansion sites.

With the economic recovery not yet in full swing, rents for commercial locations are still low in many parts of the country—meaning now can be a good time to sign a lease on a location. But before you sign on the dotted line, here are some steps to take in finding the perfect site.

  1. Get help. A commercial realtor is a must to help you find potential locations and negotiate with landlords. But you should also talk to local organizations such as your Chamber of Commerce, your city’s economic development department and other agencies that help small business (like SCORE). They can advise you about the best places to locate and tip you off to tax breaks and other incentives that may exist for locating in certain areas.
  2. Make a list. What features are essential for your location and which ones are just nice to have? For instance, your must-have list might include high-speed Internet access, lots of parking for customers and proximity to major highways for ease of employee commuting. Know your ideal budget and the max over which you won’t go.
  3. Think ahead. You may be in this space for quite a while, so look for a location that has room to grow. Is there adequate space for what your business needs might be three, five or even 10 years down the line?
  4. Do the legwork. Once your realtor finds some suitable sites, visit them and take notes. Does the space convey the proper image for your business? Is the building well maintained? How about the grounds? Check out traffic patterns, foot traffic and anything else that may affect your business. Your realtor should be able to give you details of the area’s demographics and even car counts.
  5. Get the details. What’s included? Remember, you’ll need to pay for utilities, and you may also be charged for janitorial or grounds maintenance as well. Ask about everything so you’re not surprised by hidden costs. If you’ll need to build out a bare-bones location, figure those costs and any permits needed—and make sure what you plan to do is acceptable to the landlord.
  6. Know the neighbors. What other businesses are nearby? You don’t want to sign a lease only to discover you’re next door to the competition. Ask about restrictions on what types of businesses can lease space in the center. You may be able to get exclusivity so no competitors can come in.
  7. Negotiate. Your realtor can help here, but also have your attorney go over any leases and contracts carefully. See if you can get deals like a discounted first year or a month-to-month lease. You won’t get if you don’t ask, so why not try?

Need more help choosing that ideal location? Your SCORE Mentor can work with you to pick the perfect spot. Visit the SCORE website to get matched with a Mentor today.

Rieva Lesonsky
<p> Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank" title="GrowBizMedia"></a> | <a href="" target="_blank" title="Rieva on Twitter">@rieva</a> | <a href="" title="blogs by Rieva">More from Rieva</a></p>


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