Delays in getting a start-up business loan proved to be a blessing in disguise for Lucindia Nobles when she started The Better Way Boutique in College Park, Maryland. She had planned to locate her upscale designer clothing consignment shop in a strip center, and she visited the site often as her business planning and loan processing dragged on for almost a year. During the delays, she began to notice the lack of traffic in the center and the many empty parking spaces.
"My banker finally looked at the site and said, `There's not enough traffic for your business to work,' ' Nobles recalls.
Her search for another location led her to Baltimore Avenue, a main street in downtown College Park near the University of Maryland. "It was alive with shoppers,' she says. "This is a much better site for us.'
Location is one of the most important choices a new business owner must make. Retailers like Nobles know they need to be around traffic and customers, but other factors related to location aren't as apparent. Some examples of these less obvious factors include:
- A bakery leased a building whose loading docks were not truck height, so bread racks couldn't roll into the back of delivery trucks.
- A manufacturer leased a warehouse before realizing the loading doors were 10 feet too short for the company's needs.
Such factors can make even a high-traffic, low-cost location a bad deal for your company.
"You need to consider many issues before you look for a site,' says Alan Kraus, a senior business consultant at the Temple University Small Business Development Center in Philadelphia. The type of business will determine location needs, he says. A clothing store needs a high-traffic area, while a business consultant who works with clients on location can work from home.
Jan Norman is a freelance writer who specializes in small-business issues. She can be reached at email@example.com