Pick Your Spot

Just because you can get a good deal doesn't mean that Swampland is a good location for your business.

They are a little like detectives, except there is no dead body in the parlor room, nor is there a butler lurking in the shadowy hallway. Instead, John Carstarphen and Rebecca Rice search for clues that will lead them to the right location. Carstarphen, 44, and Rice, 49, run D-Studios, an independent film production company in Dallas.

Carstarphen and Rice tool about Dallas in his '95 Chevy or her '93 Nissan Sentra, sometimes driving miles and miles around the Texas desert, to find the proper setting. It's even more difficult than it sounds.

"Is the look going to be right for the story?" wonders Rice. "The look is equally important to the quality of sound we can get. A lot of locations may not be noisy, but [they] may have real bad acoustics, so we have to be cognizant of that. We have to know whether we have enough access to electricity to run the camera and the lights. Availability is a big issue. Can we get the location the way we need it, for as long as we need it?"

D-Studios, on average, produces three pictures per year, which translates into about 30 locations. Finding the proper location is crucial to the success of their filmmaking business.

Or any business. Just as a movie needs the right location for a scene, so, too, does your company.

You may not think about location much, especially if you only have the funds to operate out of your parents' garage. But whether it's going to be in your first month of business, or after your first year, someday you're going to need the proper setting for your start-up. At some point, every entrepreneur needs to be a location scout.

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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the June 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Pick Your Spot.

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