Lesson 6: Choosing the Right Location

What You’ll Learn: In the old days, a new business meant a storefront. But now storefronts can be virtual, new business enterprises can be run out of a spare bedroom, or they can move into a makerspace or co-working space to build partnerships and synergies with other startups and small businesses. We’ll examine the many options and walk you through the good, the bad and the ugly of each.

Choosing the Right Location (continued)

Commercial Space

There are three kinds of commercial property: office, industrial and retail. Each has its own unique place in the world. Since we’re dealing with startups and entrepreneurs, we’ll stick with the office and retail spaces rather than industrial space. Your choice depends on the kind of business you plan to run, your budget and the business model.

Retail space is built with foot traffic in mind. As such, the cost per square foot is higher than office space. You may find retail in strip malls with anchor tenants, along main street or in smaller commercial developments around town. Visibility and proximity dictate price as much as the actual square footage. As you look at retail, think about accessibility, i.e., how easy it is to get to, even if it’s on a busy street; parking, including the number of spaces, location and visibility, and how easy the casual passerby will see your business on a busy street. Again, our handy SizeUp tool can help you get an initial lay of the land so you can scope out possible locations. Our property search tool will help you drill down to specific properties that are available for lease or purchase.

Office space is less expensive per square foot because there is less risk involved and your location doesn’t depend on foot traffic. In many communities, retail and office space occupy the same building, with retail on the ground floor and office space above it.

When choosing a commercial space, you want to consider:

  • Access – What is the parking situation? Do you have assigned spaces? Is there street parking? Pay parking? Is there a delivery bay or dock? Is the lot or garage open at all hours? If not, what are the hours?
  • Neighbors – What are the other tenants like? Moving your meditation business in next to a gun range is probably not going to turn out well.
  • Foot traffic – If your business depends on passersby, how is the visibility? How much traffic goes by on a given day? Is it just during the day or the evening too?
  • Competitors – Where are your competitors located? Sometimes, being near them will increase traffic in your business. Other times, you want them out of sight and out of mind.
  • Zoning – Is the zoning compatible with your intended uses? What additional permits are needed? Are there any regulations unique to the space you want to lease, buy or rent?
  • Safety ­– Will workers and customers feel safe coming to your business? What are the crime rates like? What type of crime is it?
  • Proximity – How far is it from your home? The space may be perfect for your needs, but if the commute is long and arduous for you or your employees, it may not be the great deal you think it is.
  • Room to spread out – The square footage looks good, but will it accommodate growth? Is there a bathroom? What about storage? What is the overall condition of the space? How is the plumbing and electrical? How fast are download and upload speeds on the Internet? Who pays for what repairs or upgrades? Are any utilities included in the lease?