Choosing a location for your small business

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Choosing a location for your small business

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Starting your own business is such a busy and exciting time - there are loads of things to consider, some of which you might never have thought about before, but one of the most important elements to get right is your location.

The spot you choose could play a huge role in whether your business is as successful as you hope or not and it can be tricky to know where to start.

So, let’s take a look at 10 essentials you need to consider.

1. Demographics

The aim of the game in business is to get as many customers through the door as possible, so when you’re finding your location it’s mega important you consider your target customer and whether or not the demographics of your location match up.

For example, if you’re a cafe and you’re targeting office workers are there ample businesses nearby whose workforces could easily nip in for their lunch? A great premises in the middle of nowhere is unlikely to work.

So, firstly, nail down who your target customer is. Think:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Wealth, etc.

Then do some homework into your potential locations to ensure there are sufficient consumers on hand to make your business viable - the local library should be able to help you get your hands on this, as well as search engines, simply type ‘[location] demographics’.

2. Style 

Are you opening a hip and happening real ale bar or a more traditional antiquities store? The style your business is planning to go with is another important element to the location you choose.

An antiquities store, for example, is going to stick out like a sore thumb on a local high street packed full of vibrant cafes and restaurants, and vice versa.

Choose a location consistent with your business’ style and image.

3. Foot traffic

For most businesses, it’s important their premises is noticeable by passers-by and not overlooked or hidden away thus reducing foot traffic and costing sales.

For others, a quiet and undisturbed location might be perfect and heaps of passing traffic and onlookers would be an unwelcome distraction (for example, a law firm).

Factor this in when scouting out locations - a great tip is to spend some time observing the location and quantity of foot traffic at certain times on certain days, before signing on the dotted line.

4. Accessibility

There are two important elements to accessibility - accessibility for you (and your workforce), and accessibility for your customers. 

Firstly, when it comes to you and your staff:

  • Is there ample parking? 
  • Do you have dedicated spaces?
  • How will deliveries reach you?
  • Is there a safe place to unload?
  • Are there sufficient nearby travel links for staff members who don’t drive? (think buses, trains, trams, etc.)

If you’re looking for office space:

  • Do the doors get locked at a certain time?
  • Can you have your own key?
  • Is weekend working okay?

You might think you’ve found the deal of the century on an office space but if you operate over the weekends and the block is shut on Saturdays and Sundays you’ll be up the creek without a paddle.

And for your customers:

  • Can they park nearby?
  • Will they have to pay?
  • Can they get to you without a car? Again, think about travel links.

If parking is extremely limited or costly, or customers can’t travel to you easily on public transport, these are two huge barriers to your potential success and could simply turn people away altogether. 

5. Facilities

Is there heating and air-conditioning equipment? Will you have access to the controls? Again, very important factors in your decision. If you and your customers are going to be freezing all winter and roasting all summer it might not be the location for you.

Other things to consider include:

  • Is there some form of a kitchen? 
  • Somewhere to make a cup of tea? 
  • Are there facilities nearby for you and your workforce to grab lunch? 
  • What do the bathroom facilities look like? 
  • Would they have customers running for the hills? 
  • Are there childcare facilities not too far away for any parents on your books?

6. Competition

What does your competition look like in the local area? Sometimes a bit of nearby competition can be a good thing and actually benefit your new business as you’ll pick up the overflow from existing and established companies.

For example, if you’re a clothing retailer and there’s a women’s boutique down the road, chances are consumers won’t only buy garments from the one place. Equally, the likes of pubs can do well with local competition as consumers enjoy moving from bar to bar.

It could do you damage though if you’re offering something pretty niche and there’s already a successful business doing the same thing that’s trusted by the locals and your target audience. In this instance, the competition will make your marketing extra challenging and might be worth avoiding. 

7. Location history

Before you, what types of businesses have been open in the premises you’re considering? Were they successful?

If not, why? Is there an issue you haven’t noticed yet which has led to their demise? Even if it’s just been a spate of bad businesses be wary that the public might tar your business with the same brush simply because of the location.

Do your research and get to the bottom of the history of your chosen location before taking the plunge. 

8. Restrictions and permits

If you’re opening a restaurant, cafe, or bar and therefore intend to serve alcohol, be sure to check if there are any location-specific restrictions in place prohibiting you from doing so, either all together or after a certain time.

If you intend to host live music events, are there any noise ordinances in place which might prevent you from doing so after a certain time? Is the location you’re scouting out close to a residential area?

Reach out to your local council and speak to other local businesses to find out the details and factor this into your decision. 

9. Infrastructure

Will your business need plenty of high tech gadgetry? Then bear in mind that many older buildings weren’t designed with this in mind and might not have the infrastructure to accommodate the high-tech needs of today.

You may be able to get permission to have the necessary equipment installed by your landlord, but remember this is likely to be a bill footed by you, so you’ll need to factor the additional spend into your decision.

Top tip: if you’re unsure about this one you can hire an independent engineer to find out for you.

10. Utilities

No doubt you’ve already worked out your budget for renting your new workspace, but does it include the potential for additional utility bills?

Some landlords will include utilities into their monthly fee whereas others will expect you to pay them on top, so don’t forget to ask where you stand up front.

If you do need to pay for utilities you’ll be able to get an idea of what to expect from the previous year’s usage and billing summary - you can get your hands on this by reaching out to the relevant provider. 

On the subject of location-related expenses don’t forget to factor in any potential parking charges, maintenance costs, insurance fees, etc. when working out your budget.

Where to find your perfect premises

Before we leave you, we wanted to break down the places you can look for your small business premises:

  • Trade magazines - these often list business for sale adverts.
  • Property websites - the leading sites like Rightmove and Zoopla have dedicated pages for commercial properties.
  • Estate agents - local agents will typically be the first to find out about new properties coming onto the market, so get your name down with them.
  • Facebook - look for local business pages on the platform and join any relevant groups. Local business owners tend to be a pretty tight-knit community and will know of any shops heading on the market soon, so put your feelers out and you could bag the premises of your dreams.

Once you’ve found the perfect location for your small business you’ll need to kit it out with all the essentials, including payment systems. Here at takepayments, we offer a range of market-leading card machines and payment solutions including our creme de la creme EPOS system, plus we:

  • Don’t charge sign up or exit fees
  • Offer short 12-month contracts
  • Have dedicated consultants up and down the country
  • Create tailored pricing packages for individual businesses

Reach out to one of your friendly experts today to find out more.

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce


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