Assuming you have already evaluated the pros and cons of virtual/shared/own space options and you have decided that a physical site is important or necessary then the actual location is key to the viability of your business.
Here’s a checklist of what to consider when evaluating the best fit for your business.
How much space do you need?
Now and realistically in 2-5 years’ time as per your business plan? How many employees do you expect to be employing? A rule of thumb is 10 square metres per person for office space. How easy will it be to expand? Commercial retail space is extremely expensive – how can you display and store stock effectively without paying for ‘dead’ space. Will you have sufficient exposure to your customers? Manufacturing space is usually cheaper per square metre but usually more space is required.
What is the nature of your business?
Retail and restaurants need passing trade, whereas, manufacturing businesses may need to adhere to city zoning laws. A graphic design business may thrive in a renovated inner-city loft, but a consultancy may need to be closer to clients… consider also ease of deliveries & transportation of goods.
What is your realistic budget, as per your business plan?
Prime location has the price tag to match but a slightly less visible storefront may be the death knell. Even the wrong corridor in the right shopping centre can be a disaster. It is important to build into your pricing a few months upfront rental, plus the cost of shop / office fitting, services, security and parking. If you want to negotiate on the cost or length of lease, it is important to raise that early on to avoid frustrations.
Proximity to customers and major transport hubs or your home?
Is passing trade important and are you visible? Can your employees get to the business easily and safely? The more central, the costlier… Is there sufficient and safe parking for customers? What are the limitations or your ability to brand the business space?
What is the ideal work environment for you and your employees?
Are you able to incorporate flexible working hours and ‘hot desking’ within your own space? Does everyone actually need a desk or would a couch & laptop serve as well? What storage space is required? Noise, inadequate air conditioning and poor lighting can affect health. Is there opportunity to move around or even go outside? Options for meetings or collaborative spaces as well as space to concentrate?
Health & safety considerations?
Especially in manufacturing or food related businesses. Access to ablutions and the cleanliness / maintenance thereof.
A pleasant workplace contributes to happier and more motivated employees.
Consider colour, white noise, ergonomics, light, ventilation, orderliness and security.
Where is your competition located and how many are in the area?
A fast food outlet may flourish in a food hall, but your fledgling furniture business may be crippled with a huge home store chain across the street. Will the landlord agree to a no-competition clause in the building? Speak to other business owners in the area or centre and ask for positives and negatives.
Small service or convenience businesses e.g. a hairdresser or hardware store need to know who is the potential customer and will they come to your location? Consider age, gender, income, their modes of transport & usual times of shopping for your products or services… does the location suit your customer? Are there any ‘anchor’ clients in the centre such as a major retail chain which will drive traffic? How accessible and attractive is the location to customers? A simple thing such as pay-for-parking can turn potential customers away.