How to find the best new location for your small business

Les Roberts, Senior Content Manager at Bionic
By Les Roberts, Senior Content Manager

The location of your business is a big deal, but choosing the right one can be something of a balancing act. If it’s located in the right place, then you’ll likely hit the jackpot with customer footfall, but if located in the wrong place, you might not even make it off the ground. 

That’s where Bionic can help with this guide. Learn everything you need to know about finding a new business location — including different location types, the factors to consider and more.

What is a business location?

A business location is where your business runs its day-to-day operations. Your location decision can have a big impact on your costs and revenue, so you need to take a lot of factors into account — like whether the location is convenient for customers — when it comes down to your final choice. 

A business owner is being shown around some empty office space by a real estate agent.

What are the different business location types?

There are lots of different ways that you can set up shop. Whether it’s out of your home or shared office spaces, the most common business locations are:

  • Home-based — If you work from home but need more space, you might consider moving house or adding an extension for a separate office room. 
  • Retail — Sometimes you don’t need to limit yourself to just shopping centres and high streets. Consider other retail spaces in airports, a free-standing building or even a kiosk. 
  • Mobile businesses — In the age of mobile card readers, it’s now easier than ever to have your business on the move. Mobile beauty services, restaurants and more have all taken advantage of being able to move freely from location to location.
  • Commercial spaces — For businesses that don’t typically rely on a customer’s physical footfall — such as businesses that run online — commercial spaces, like shared offices, offer flexibility for potential growth down the road. 
  • Industrial sites — If you operate a distribution or manufacturing business, you’ll likely have special needs and limited choices when it comes to opening a location. Industrial sites are mainly for companies that; require large warehouse space, need access to major transportation routes or produce possible pollutants as part of the manufacturing process. 

What are some factors that you need to consider?

In order to find the best location for your business, you have to make sure that you consider some key factors and how important each is for the long-term survival of your business. 

Competitors in the area

Although certain types of businesses can benefit from being located in a cluster of similar companies — like estate agents — for others, having too many competitors in close proximity can be detrimental for business. 

Having a severe impact on sales and profitability, it’s always worthwhile to survey the area and see if there are any potential competitors in the area and consider how this could affect your trade in the long run. 

Transport links and accessible parking

Good public transport links and accessible parking are key when it comes to finding your business location. If you find a location that’s in the middle of nowhere, how can you expect staff who don’t drive to be able to get to it? Making sure that staff are able to reach the new location — whether walking, driving or by public transport — is crucial. 

The same can be said for accessible parking. If your business hires someone or has customers who are disabled or have mobility limitations, you should make sure that there are accessible parking bays for them to use.

Although there are no statutory requirements under the ‘Equality Act 2010 to make provision for disabled parking spaces on your business premises, you should be accommodating to staff, clients and customers.

Delivery and planning restrictions

If your business is hard to get to, then this can cause problems for your suppliers. If you receive regular deliveries make sure that you’re accessible for large vans or lorries to reach. 

You’ll also have to check whether the location you have in mind is allowed to be used for your intended commercial purpose. 

Business rates

Business rates can add greatly to the cost of locating your business in a particular area, which can make your overall spending even higher. Head to GOV.UK to find out how rates are calculated, what to pay and when.

Local amenities

Your employees will prefer to work in an area that has good local facilities like restaurants, shops, banks and post offices. Whether it’s running out for lunch or heading for a drink after work, it can be beneficial to give your employees the option.

Footfall

Depending on the nature of your business — such as if you only trade online — the amount of passing trade can have a huge impact on your success. If your business operates in the retail sector, it’s best to get your business out there and get as much potential footfall as you can into your location.

Questions to ask yourself

When it comes to finding your new business location, there are certain questions you can ask yourself to make sure you choose the best one for you.

What can we afford?

It might seem obvious, but you first have to ask yourself how much you can afford.

Before you start looking for a business location, you need to create a business budget for the impending expenditure. This budget will be one of the most important factors because, as a small business, you’re probably not flush with cash. 

Remember that the monthly rent or lease payments won’t be the total cost of the location. Things like stamp duty, utility costs, renovation or installation upgrades can end up increasing your costs.

What type of space do we need?

Think about what you’ll use your space for. Will it only be used as a retail space? Do you need an office that can fit a certain number of employees? What about storage and warehouse usage? Do you need a kitchen or a space to store safety equipment? 

Knowing which type of building you need will make it easier to eliminate any properties that won’t work and whittle down any prospective ones that are a good fit. 

What is our style?

Your business's brand and visuals can be influential in your decision for your location. Essentially, you want your brand and building to be cohesive. 

Going into your search with a strong understanding of your company's brand can help narrow down your search to specific areas and building types. 

How to find a new business location

Finding a new business location can be easy when you know how to do it right. 

1. Set a budget

As we mentioned before, setting a budget can be one of the most important things you can do when it comes to finding your location. But ask yourself these questions for an extra bit of guidance:

  • Does your business plan project enough profit to support the terms of the lease?
  • Would it be worth taking out a small business loan to help support the physical location?
  • Is this a space that can grow with you? Or will you need to invest in a new space if you reach a certain level of success?
  • Is your location creating extra costs for travel and shipping?

2. Consider your hardware and equipment needs

While a location can look good on paper, you need to take the time to consider what it would look like when it was full. Will all of the hardware and equipment you need to run your business fit into the space? Create a checklist and take a measuring tape so you can ensure that all desks, monitors, chairs and other equipment (if you’re working in an office setting) will fit. For retail spaces, make sure there's enough space for stock, both on and off the shop floor.

Make sure to also consider if there’s enough space for staff, customers and equipment all at the same time.

3. Plan for staffing

If your business needs staff, don’t wait until you’ve already finalised an agreement on a location before you begin the hiring process. 

Having a desirable location can obviously increase the number of applicants that you’ll receive, but make sure that you have enough room to accommodate existing or new staff that you’re going to hire. 

4. Look into taxes, regulations and government incentives

You can find information on incentives and benefit programs on the government Finance and support for your business page

How can picking the right location benefit your business?

Choosing a location for your business is all about setting it up for success. Especially if you’re running a restaurant or retail operation, the right location can welcome organic footfall, build a busy and bustling atmosphere and guarantee long-term success. 

Choosing the right location for your business with Bionic

No matter what space you choose for your business location, it’s so important that you pick the right one for your company. Whether it’s a modern office space for a digital marketing company, or a little coffee shop tucked away off the high street, it can keep your business moving in the right direction. 

Get in touch today with the Bionic team to discuss your needs or get more information on business insurance. We can also make sure you have the right business gas, electricity, phone and broadband contracts in place at the new property.