DOWN TO BUSINESS
A look at small business questions from the Southwestern Oregon Community College Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
By Arlene M. Soto CMA, CGBP, Southwestern SBDC Director
How do I choose the best business location?
The best location for any business is dependant on a number of factors. Your industry, where your customers are located, suppliers or raw materials sites, anticipated growth, the competition, zoning, access to high speed internet, product transportation sources, community traffic patterns, sufficient parking, taxes, and building cost are just a few of the issues that may need to be considered before identifying a site for your business. Develop a plan that includes all criteria you hope to meet broken down by must have, nice to have and could live without. Look at your specific business criteria by city, area within a city, and a specific type of site. Now, narrow the scope of your search to those places that will best meet the criteria you have established.
When choosing a city, be careful to keep the goals and objectives of your business in mind. You may have an ideal setting in which to live, but is the business environment also conducive to productivity and profitability for your type of business. Look for a place that can draw potential customers and qualified employees from a larger region. Be sure that the demographics of the population are favorable for your production and sales goals now and in the future. Research the level of competition in the area. Is there a large enough market to support another competitor? Is there a trained labor force? Have you contacted the local economic development agency to learn about the resources they can provide for your business?
After choosing a city, look at areas within that city that have available space. Identify the type of zoning that your business will need to operate. Does the general appearance of an area fit with the image you would like for your business? Make sure that your customers and suppliers have good access routes to your location. It might be helpful to contact a local commercial realtor to get recommendations about available properties.
When you have identified an area, it is time to start looking at specific sites. Look at adjacent businesses and make sure that they are compatible with your business. Will there be enough parking for your customers? Are traffic patterns sufficient to sustain walk-in customers if your business depends on them? Make sure that the cost of this location will allow your business to remain profitable. A good resource for choosing a business location is http://entrepreneurs.about.com/od/gettingstarted/a/chooselocation.htm.
There are a lot of factors to address when making a decision about where your business should be located. By taking a systematic approach to identifying a location you will increase the chances that you will find the site that is perfect for your business now and in the future!