Choose a Business Location
GUIDE: START A BUSINESS IN IOWA | STEP NINE:
Choose a Business Location
Pick your business location
Choosing a location to start your business can be a difficult one. What kind of budget am you working with? Do you want to buy or lease? Should you buy something bigger than you need for future expansion? Do you even need a storefront? These are all good questions you should be asking yourself throughout your business planning process.
Other things to consider:
- What’s your budget? How much can you afford in good times? Bad times?
- What type of location does your brand require? Will a location change your brand/image?
- Will your vendors have issues with your location? How will deliveries be affected?
- Is your location safe for your customers? What about your employees? If you hold products in a warehouse how safe will the inventory be?
- If you require foot traffic, will your location produce the numbers you need?
- Will your location hinder the hiring of employees? Will you limit your candidate pool?
- How will parking work for you and your employees? Customers? Deliveries and shipments?
Six Common Location Types
Home Based Locations
A very common business location when entrepreneurs are just starting out is their home. Perhaps there is an extra room you aren’t using you can use as an office. Or maybe you don’t keep your car in your garage, so the extra space can be used to store your products. Did you know there are available tax write offs you can use for things used in your home for business purposes? You should definitely speak with a tax professional if you plan to take advantage of this type of strategy.
Retail spaces aren’t limited to only downtown storefronts and strip malls. When searching for a retail location, you should identify different spaces in shopping centers, free-standing buildings, and even kiosks. Farmers markets are another great example of a popup retail space. This type of business model is a combination between retail as well as mobile.
Mobile card readers and the internet have completely revolutionized how business can be operated. A great modern example of this is Chick-Fil-A. Even though the fast food chain has dine in, carry out and drive thru options, at some of their locations utilize a mobile food truck or van to travel to more rural areas and sell their products. This type of roaming model can expand your service area without an additional location.
Commercial Business Space
Does your type of business not heavily rely on passerby traffic or foot traffic? Maybe you have a showroom but it’s more for contractors and not necessarily retail customers or end customers? Consider finding a commercial building space. These spaces typically are among other commercial buildings and do not possess amenities that would drive foot traffic to your door and may come at a reduced cost. If you run a destination business, consider a location off the beaten path.
Do you operate a manufacturing or distribution business? Perhaps you need space to park large equipment or receive deliveries from semi-trucks or other large vehicles. An industrial site that has a warehouse space and easy access to transportation routes may be needed for you.
Online (website / social media)
Are you operating an online only business? For example, you produce homemade coffee mugs and sell them on your own website or platforms like Etsy or Amazon? If this is the case, then it really doesn’t matter where your business is located… kind of. If the closest post office, UPS or FedEx is the next town over or perhaps even further, what’s your plan for making your deliveries? Does your location have a reliable internet connection? For more questions like these and other tips and strategies to starting an online business, check out our Start an Online Business Guide.
SBDC Quick Tip: Don’t make hasty business decisions because you think you’ve found the “perfect” location. An inefficient business model or incomplete business plan can’t be offset by a good location.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about funding your business? You should consider checking out our Resource Navigator. It houses the contact information of 400 of our most helpful partners from across the state, like the Small Business Development Centers, who provide no-cost confidential assistance to Iowa entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Not necessarily. With the rise of the internet, the need for a physical store and/or space has disappeared for many. Sometimes, though, an actual location customers can visit is necessary.
This depends entirely on your type of business and the needs of the business. If your customers do not require that you have a store for them to check out the products you sell, you may be able to avoid or reduce your location costs.
As the old saying goes, “There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location.” However, if your business doesn’t need a high traffic setting near other shops with big windows in front, then the location of your business may not matter (other than perhaps distance from your customer and overall accessibility). One example of this is Dunder Mifflin, a fictional paper company from the show, “The Office”. Though Dunder Mifflin has employees and needs to store the paper they sell, they don’t require a storefront for customers to see what kind of paper they offer. In this instance, Dunder Mifflin really could put their office/distribution center wherever they’d like, but the idea of putting it in a high traffic (and often expensive) mall or high traffic area does not make sense.
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