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Step 7: Choose A Location

Where you set up shop is crucial to your success.

Where you locate your workplace and how you set it up help determine your chances for entrepreneurial success. If you're a sole proprietor who will work at home, or someone who will provide services primarily at your clients' premises, a basement or spare bedroom may suffice. If not, you'll likely need to scout out the ideal location for operating your venture, and arrange to lease and renovate it, before setting up shop.

For many small-business owners, the advantages of working at home are plenty. Homebased offices provide significant tax benefits, don't require commuting, and generally involve lower start-up costs, fixed costs and rent expenses. Homebased entrepreneurs can wear comfortable clothes to work and enjoy greater scheduling flexibility.

However, home offices can also have their drawbacks. Working at home can create tension between you and family members who may feel ignored. Entrepreneurs who merge workplace and home may eventually find themselves sleeping late every morning or, conversely, working late into the evening because the work is always there. The secret to success lies in setting up a distinct place for business activities that separates your personal and professional lives, then establishing a regular work schedule to help family, friends and clients know when they can and cannot interrupt you.

Depending on the type of product or service you will provide, leasing professional office space may be the desired, or required, alternative. When selecting your site, evaluate the traffic volume and the complementarity of surrounding ventures. Being conveniently located for your customers is key. Also, select a space capable of serving both your present and projected needs. Shop around for a lease offering competitive rates, convenient terms, and protection against unreasonable rent increases.

Selecting the most appropriate workplace for your new business involves staking claim to office space that meets your needs, is flexible and efficient enough to maximize your productivity, and will accommodate future growth. Having already done so themselves, our Starting Smart entrepreneurs discuss the attributes which make their own workplaces so ideal.

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This article was originally published in the November 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Step 7: Choose A Location.

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