Inventory, Employees and Customers Feeling Cramped?

Does your small business need a new location?

This is the third installment in our series on preparing your small business for growth. Today’s topic is all about location. We’re all familiar with successful businesses that began in garages. Apple, Amazon, Google, Yankee Candle, Mattel, Harley Davidson the list goes on and on.  The other thing all these businesses have in common is that they all outgrew their humble headquarters. You may not be starting the next Walt Disney Corporation but that doesn’t mean you won’t need more space in the near future. Having an idea about where you’ll go as you grow can be the difference between continued success and sudden stagnation. Keep reading to learn more about how to prepare to meet your location needs as your small business expands.

Whether your small business began in your garage, dorm room or at your kitchen table one thing is certain, as your business grows you’re going to need more space. As you add employees, things can quickly become crowded and quality can suffer as a result. To prevent this from happening you need to have a plan.  The tips below can get you started.

The Right Realtor

Finding the right real estate agent to help you with your location search is important.  You are likely to have a very intense, albeit hopefully short lived relationship with your realtor. Between phone calls, e-mails and visits to check out potential properties you will spend quite a bit of time communicating as you try to find the right property. You need an agent that understands your needs and priorities and can help you narrow down your choices effectively.  Choose your realtor the same way you would hire an employee. Don’t rush into the decision. Talk to a few people before you decide who you want to walk you through this process.

Needs vs. Nice to Haves

Sure, you’d love to have a bright storefront on the busiest street in town with a great view to enjoy when business is slow.  That prime location may not be in the budget (at least not right away.) Focus on the things that you really need to succeed. What size stockroom do you need? Do you need dedicated spaces for production, sales, shipping or any other departments? What about water, electric and other amenities.  Most locations will have the basics but if you need a specific number of stations or need them in certain areas within the location it’s best to keep that in mind as you review properties. If you’ve read our posts on process mapping you know how to draw up the blueprint for your current and future processes. You’ll be able to identify the best workflow scenario and then choose a location that will accommodate that.

Size Matters

Bigger is not always better.  If you have outgrown your initial space suddenly, or are looking for your second or even third location it is easy to overestimate your current growth needs. When scouting new locations avoid choosing more space than you need.  Not only will you likely pay more for the space itself, you will incur increased heating, cooling, decorating and other charges. These additional costs can really hurt your business if they prohibit you from investing in other areas.

Online Presence Growth Concerns

It’s easy to overlook the location issues that can arise with your online presence. Do you know how much traffic your website can handle? As your small business grows you may need a more robust web host. What about record storage? Keeping hard copies may have worked well in the beginning but you don’t need a warehouse full of customer receipts and satisfaction surveys. Check out our previous posts on cloud computing to find the right online location for your business data. Choosing options with scalability will make it easy to respond and keep up with the growth of your business over time.

Knowing where you’d like to see your business going both metaphorically and physically can be the first step towards getting there. Think about your vision and then start making it a reality. Check back with us soon for our next post which will focus on infrastructure challenges as your small business grows.

Do you know how to find a good commercial realtor?

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