First, a congratulations are in order. If you’re considering moving your start up business to a commercial location, it means you’re expanding! Taking your business to the next level is an exciting move, especially for an entrepreneur who has been behind the scenes since day one.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan to upgrade your at-home business to a commercial space.
1. Evaluate the true needs of your customers
As a small business owner, chances are your pool of customers were initially drawn to your not-so-corporate business venture. They felt they could trust you and would receive a product or service that someone had poured their heart into. But as your business grows,your customers might change, and your business model might need adjusting to keep up with it.
Dig deep and ask yourself a few questions about your customers’ needs and wants as you prepare to expand. Do your customers need something that you aren’t able to offer? Are you able to give them quality attention, or do you need to expand your staffing? Your business will grow and your competition will too, so it’s important to be sure you are still able to give your customers the best of the best, and that means knowing what their needs are.
2. Find a mentor in the field and keep them close
Small businesses face more obstacles than larger corporations because they already have business practices solidified but hold your ground and find comfort in the mentors you surround yourself with. Your business is up to you, and as long as you know what your values are, the culture you create as you go is crucial to how your business will function moving forward.
Find a mentor that can guide you and offer their insight on expanding a business. They know the struggles you may face as a small-business owner and entrepreneur. Don’t think you have to have it all figured out on your own!
3. Shop around for the right location
Before solidifying a commercial location, do a little shopping around and consider how your location may impact your business. Where are some of your biggest competitors located? Moving too close to competitors who have already established a store front location may hurt your business.
You should also keep in mind the location of the majority of your customers. If your customers tend to live within a certain city, moving out too far into the suburbs may hinder them from continuing with your business. While you’re thinking about your strategy, consider finding a peaceful Myrtle Beach winter rental on the east coast, or an extended stay in L.A. if you’re out west. Moving close by your main customers, however, could increase the business they do with you and lead to similar new customers in that area. When it comes to your location, also be sure to find a space where you feel safe. If you’re restocking or doing inventory late at night, you want to know that you are in a safe area and in a secure building.
4. Share your story
Your new space for your business should reflect your mission and appeal to your target market. When people walk into your business, they should feel empowered and excited. Think about what your brand would look like on a larger scale and play around with the design and functionality of your location.
This is the fun part! As you begin to map out a layout and plan for decorating, consider whether your choices will be sustainable for the first couple of years. Invest in options that will aid in both the function and aesthetic of your business and that will be on the forefront of style. Really know your brand – and capture that even through the tiniest of details.
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5. Create a financial plan and stick to it
As a small-business owner, you already know how crucial budgeting can be. Expanding your business to a commercial location is a big move, but you want to do it the right way. While blowing money for your dream space could pay off if business is good, you should still air on the side of caution going into your first year in a commercial location and save money where you can.
Evaluate the size space that you need to make sure you can function efficiently. Will you need lots of storage? Do you want a clean, minimalistic look? As you start browsing for locations to move to, map out all equipment needs you have to make sure your space will fit just right. Solidifying a short-term lease is also a business savvy budget move since you can’t fully predict your success in your first year. Instead of signing a 12-month lease, negotiate shorter terms.That way if the location isn’t a good fit or business isn’t booming, you won’t be strapped into something you can’t fulfill.
6. Announce Your Move!
Once you’ve solidified the logistics, make sure everyone knows that you are moving on to bigger and better places. Your customers have found trust in your product and they should be the first to know where you are heading so they can continue to support your business! Give everyone proper notice that you are moving so they aren’t caught off guard. Before settling into your shiny new location, make sure to update your address with all necessary vendors. Get in touch with your local government to find out what they need from you to work out any kinks.