Choose a Business Location

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Choosing a location to start your business can be a difficult one. What kind of budget am I working with? Do I want to buy or lease? Should I buy something bigger than I need for future expansion? Do I even need a storefront at all? These are all good questions you should be asking yourself throughout your business planning process.

We wanted to break down three things you should consider when looking into expanding your operations into a physical space.

Questions to ask yourself

General questions

  • Where is your target market located? Does your target market like shopping in physical spaces?

  • What image or brand do you want to convey? Will my building make my customers feel more comfortable? Worse?

  • How do you fit in or stand out from your competitors? Do your competitors have  a storefront? Will this building help make me more money?

  • How close do you need to be from your suppliers? Do you have to pick up any of your supplies or will they be delivered to you?

  • Is overall safety a concern of yours? What’s your tolerance level for potentially less safe neighborhoods? Sometimes the higher the price the safer areas are. However, sometimes even not so safe areas can be expensive if the city you are located in is typically more pricey.

  • How easy will it be to find employees? If you live in a small town, the number of potential candidates may be limited. Is your location easy to get to? Is it near any more populated cities?

How do I begin looking for a location for my business

  • Offline – Connect with a closeby SBDC, speak with your local Chamber of Commerce, walk your neighborhood searching for rental or for sale signs, or even connect with commercial real estate agencies in your area.

  • Online – Consider looking at websites like Craigslist or commercial property listing websites like LoopNetCityFeet, and Showcase.

Financial questions

  • Will you have to do extensive renovations before you can move in? If you are working with a limited budget, can you afford the changes needed?

  • How much are property taxes? How much are income and sales taxes? Knowing your numbers is key to running a successful business.

  • Do you qualify for any government economic programs or incentives? Consider the age of the building, and the community you are in.

Legal questions

  • Are there any zoning restrictions or laws to consider? You may have a great idea for a new design or paint scheme, but are you allowed to? Can you gather the proper permits to redo your new space?

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about setting up your online store? You should consider checking out our Resource Navigator. It houses the contact information of 400 of our most helpful partners from across the state who provide free to low-cost assistance to Iowa entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Q: Do I need a brick and mortar store?

A: 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.

Q: When should I open a store front?

A: 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, then it’s pointless to rent or buy a building, maintain it, and advertise it.

Q: Does location really matter?

A: As the old saying goes, “Location, location, location.” However, if your customer type isn’t in need of a high traffic area with other shops and big windows in front, then the location of your business probably doesn’t matter too much (other than perhaps distance from their home and accessibility). One example of this could be Dunder Mifflin, a fictional paper company from the show, “The Office”. Though Dunder Mifflin has employees and a need for storing the paper they sell, they don’t have a need for 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 next to a Scheels, Victoria’s Secret, and Starbucks does not.

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NOTICE: The information included on this website is to be used only as a guide. It is not intended to cover all provisions of the law or every taxpayer's specific circumstances.


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