Welcome to day two of Leeward Business Advisors’ 12 Days of Starting a Business. We’re going through all the aspects leading up to starting a business! Follow along here on Medium and watch our Twitter for updates!
When you imagine your business, you probably have some sort of vision in mind. Does your vision include a building in the middle of a busy metropolitan area? Is it a row of laptops on your dining room table? Do you see yourself at Starbucks every day?
Your business’s location is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. It determines your access to resources, how people will interact with your company, and the upfront cost you will face for opening your doors.
Where in the world are you?
Your location affects your access to resources.
If your business needs skilled professionals to operate, it is important to set up somewhere people are readily available. Depending on your needs, it might make sense to situate your business near a university or technical school that will provide a steady stream of new individuals in possession of the skills needed. (Another benefit of being near universities is the access to interns that the schools will often compensate for you.)
Resources don’t always mean man-power. If you’re looking to start a café selling locally sourced foods, hopefully there’s a farm or two in the area to supply fresh milk, tomatoes, or anything else you need to source.
Have you thought through how your employees and customers will get to you?
Be it by foot, car, or train, your business should be somewhere your customers can get to (and find) easily. Customer demographics should be considered when choosing which transportation medium to focus on. A low-income grocery store should be located right in the low-income neighborhood it is looking to serve, so customers can walk. If you’re looking to serve an older community, you should be located near an easily accessible bus station.
If you want your business to be successful it should be in an area with a high density of customers. Metropolitan areas tend to have this higher density and variety of customers, providing the largest audience to which you can promote your product or service.
An additional pro of metropolitan areas is an access to more robust infrastructure. In Kenosha, there are numerous internet providers. In Door County, not so much, meaning the few that do exist don’t have to be great. There are even some parts of Wisconsin that still use dial-up… It’s almost 2017, internet is a necessity with nearly any business.
What’s it like there?
We’ve talked in great length about coworking spaces and their benefits in the past. These are great for freelancers and specifically one-person businesses. Coworking spaces aren’t somewhere to run a 3-tier organization because there just isn’t space. Additionally, if your business frequently meets with people in person, a coworking space isn’t great for meetings. An office really provides a better platform for showing off.
Private offices are great. You have plenty of control with layout and décor. You can invite customers to come in for meetings whenever you want. There are no weird neighbors to worry about.
Unfortunately, a single business taking over an entire office on its own is very expensive. This just doesn’t make sense for many startups, and even for many older companies. You really need to have a large enough onsite team to even make considering a private office realistic.
Leasing a Suite
This is like a private office, but with a lower barrier to entry. You can start by only leasing one suite with enough space for the team you currently employ. You still have all the freedom of décor and the ability to invite customers to meetings. However, you might wind up in the same place as a competitor, or a business that would be off-putting to your customers.
Leasing a suite is far cheaper than purchasing a private office, which is great for a startup without much available cash. If the building you’re leasing from has the availability, it also provides room to grow into a space as needed.
Developers love to work by themselves. That’s why working remote is so common for app companies. This is great pull for hiring candidates- people have been pushing for remote work more and more. This environment saves the company money. There’s no electric bill, no rent on office space, and you don’t have to provide coffee (something we’ve found to be a large expense in our office).
E-Commerce vs. Store Front
As with remote, there are many benefits to utilizing e-commerce instead of having a store front. Additionally, store fronts can be important too. This decision is dependent almost entirely on your product/service. 3D Printing does great as e-commerce because it is highly customizable. Store fronts are good for things people will want to see and hold to purchase. In some cases, both make sense.
Moral of the Story
Choosing a business location can be a very difficult decision as it is based on many different factors. Updating a business plan is free, does not require a deposit, nor a lease agreement to be signed. Agreeing on a business location is a little bit more binding. Know what your business will need in terms of resources (product and labor), know where your customers are, and know how flexible you can be with where work can be done. The 21st century office space is changing, so make sure it’s a positive change for your business from the start.
Come back tomorrow to learn about financing your business.
About Leeward Business Advisors
Leeward Business Advisors is a Wisconsin-based corporation that provides business strategy planning, business improvement implementation, and full IT operational support. They offer world class Cloud Computing services, Cloud brokerage, Managed IT services, and a full US based Support Service Desk (called Quick Answers). Michael Polzin, CEO has 20+ years of enterprise business and technology experience gained while working at Allstate Insurance and Microsoft Corporation. Jason Klein, CTO has 15+ years delivering effective and efficient technology to Midwest companies.