So you’ve decided to open a business and as a sign that your idea is perfect, a great spot has opened in the “best” business section in town. As a business consultant I have spoken to hundreds of clients who found the perfect spot for a perfectly unbelievable price. I have encouraged these clients to take a quick moment – it has to be a quick moment because this deal won’t last for long – and consider the feasibility of the site they have found. Here are some things I have asked them and suggest that you consider before leasing or buying a new business site.
- Is it zoned properly?
I have seen all too many clients find a good deal on a storefront to find out after the fact that it is not zoned for their type of business. Sure you can file for a variance or a change in zoning, but do you have the time and money for the task? What if the zoning board does not approve your request? Most small and start-up businesses need to count every cent in the beginning and this great deal could be a budget breaker or even worse it could leave you with a lease for property you cannot use.
- Is it really the right price?
Many new business owners are so excited about what they are going to do that they sometimes overlook some important matters. What are you purchasing in the lease? Who pays for building repairs, the roof, the AC and other items? I have seen many clients who didn’t really review their lease and ended up paying for additional unexpected items as a condition of the lease they signed. It may be helpful to let an attorney review your lease before you sign.
- How long is the lease?
A great price and a long-term lease may sound like the best thing – and it can be. But if things do not go as planned, you could be stuck with a lease that goes for several years that you cannot afford. I often advise my clients to try to get a short-term lease with an options to extend. This allows for the ability to adjust to the dynamics of your business, good or bad. Again, see an attorney to discuss ways to maximize your control of the property with the least amount of risk.
- What is the customer perception?
You found a great price and location but what does your intended customer think of the area and the stores around it? There’s nothing wrong with a pool hall or a pawn shop, but will your customer see some problem coming to your baby boutique? View your proposed site from the road. Does the shopping center or the area appear inviting or does it send other messages? What does your customer want to see?
- What is the customer convenience level?
I have a business that I like and would stop in more often if it were not for the two U-turns and a line of traffic that must be dealt with to get into the shopping center. Once you finish your shopping it is another challenge to get out of the parking lot? Needless to say, I only go there when I cannot find a product at another location. How much of an ordeal is it for your customer to get to your business?
- What is the safely level?
What is real and perceived safety at your proposed site? Is it safe for you, your customers and your employee to visit during business hours? Do the conditions change after dark? What is the perception of the location and the neighborhood even if it is safe? Check the property out at different times of the day and check crime reports for the area.
- Is it really the right/best location?
Finally is it really the right price or is just something you think you can afford? After you have assessed the site from the perspectives above, ask yourself if this is really the best place for my business to grow and succeed.
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