They say the most important thing for your business is finding a good location. It’s true, but I didn’t take that so seriously at first. And I learned a lot of lessons from that.
Starting a business in a bad location is bad for business
Our first business was in Brampton. We were eager to start a barbershop and when we found a location that was newly built, with no cost to assume the lease and a low rent, we signed a deal with the landlord and thought everything would go well.
But it didn’t. The location we chose was a live-work unit. In other words, there was a residential tenant living upstairs and this tenant always complained about noise, even though our landlord said the floors were separated by concrete and noise transmission wouldn’t be an issue.
Shortly after that, our landlord suddenly passed away and his partner ended up overseeing the property which must have been difficult as they were both friends. To please the tenant, we built sound proof doors in the shop to accommodate him (doing construction during shop hours is difficult for business). However, that didn’t work and the tenant still complained.
Further, when I visited the shop, I never realized how limited parking was. There was only enough space for 5 cars, and all of it was parallel parking since the rest of the spots were taken by other commercial tenants. When the lots were full, people had to park further away and walk to the shop. In the winter, this wasn’t so great.
Finally, we were located in an area where the local crowd wasn’t too happy paying $40 for a hair cut when other barbershops only charged between $20 and $30.
With the all trouble we had to deal with, we finally realized we did not find a good location for our business. This wasn’t a the place we wanted to stay at and we closed it down.
Starting a business in an area that doesn’t sit right with you is also bad for business
Our second prospective location was in downtown Oakville. This place was much larger and in a high-end spot. Our customers were always within walking distance. It was fantastic, except my gut instinct wasn’t very happy with parking and the potential landlord relationship. Further, my small business adviser also wasn’t very keen on us trying to attempt a grand opening when the central road to our location would be shut down for construction. Finding a good location for your business takes perseverance, so we kept looking.
Starting a business in the right location will both empower you and make things a little easier
Finally, our good real estate agent found us 67 Bronte Rd. It was within walking distance of our clients, the landlord was much easier to work with, the place was high-end and there was sufficient parking behind us. This was a good location. In fact, this was a great location as it both empowered me and made things much easier when starting the business.
How did this empower me? Every time I think about where we first opened and where we are now, I realize how far my brother and I have gone and all my doubts just vanish away. We stumbled upon this jewel, what was there to doubt? We were in the perfect location. All that was necessary was to set good goals, adapt to the environment and overcome any difficulties. Think about this! If you pick a good location, just thinking about it will motivate you to keep pushing further and not to give up!
How does this make it easier? Since our client base is so close, marketing is so much easier. And if you can get their attention, you can establish your business.
What to look for when it comes to location
Here are a few things to look for when searching for that good location for your business:
- Find an area that is close to your customers and that is zoned for your type of business. I found prospective locations by searching for where all the Starbucks were. Many successful companies already do a ton of research into location, so why start from scratch when you can just look for where the successful guys decided to open up shop?
- Ensure there’s sufficient parking if a number of your clients will be driving to you
- Figure out if there’s any construction in the area that will hinder your clients from reaching you
- Take a walk around the area. Is it safe, does it have nice views, are there nice restaurants, hotels, apartments or stores in the area? Are your competitors close by?
- Try to gauge your landlord. Are they easy to communicate with? Do they give you any problems early on? Can you reach them easily?
- Ensure the floor space is large enough so that there’s enough space for your clients, products and work stations
- Have the contractor review the unit/building to note any concerns like an aging HVAC unit
- Ensure the rent and TMI (taxes, maintenance and insurance) is within your cash flow analysis. A great location is great because it’s also affordable. If it’s overpriced or beyond your estimation, you could quickly lose money every month, which will shut you down faster.
- Ask yourself, does this location empower you? Does it sit well with you? Does it make you feel like you caught a lucky break? If so, you’ve found the perfect location.
Finding a good location for your business isn’t difficult. It takes perseverance and a keen eye. You have time, so take your time.
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