Congratulations, new business owner! Starting a business can be both rewarding and challenging. There are so many things that can go wrong, and there is so much to do in order to make sure your new business is up and running at the level of quality you hope for. If you’re thinking about opening a new location for your company, here are some tips to have a smooth transition:
Yes, there are specifics that you need to know when seeking a location!
Finding a Good Site
There are many rules and regulations when it comes to the location of a business, so it is important to find a spot that will be successful. One of the keys to success for many of our clients is conducting thorough due diligence on the location being considered. By having the answers to many of the topics listed below, you will be off to a good start.
Prior to opening their doors and earning revenue, businesses have a great deal of opportunity to lose money. Almost every location has different hidden costs that you need to be mindful of, including taxes, renovations, utility upgrades, minimum wage requirements, and economic incentives. It’s critical to consider the costs of zoning, permitting, construction, and the time to get it completed. Before starting, make sure you’re prepared for the three critical questions:
- How long will the approvals take?
- How much it will cost?
- How likely it is to be approved/successful?
When it comes time for your company to expand and open a new location, you must make sure that you follow all of the zoning laws applied to that location. If you open your business in the wrong location and are not zoned to do so, it could put your business at risk. You must have the right zoning (commercial, agricultural, industrial, mixed-use) to open your business.
Not all land use is created equal. Most cities have laws around the type of businesses that are allowed in specific areas. In some cases, the property you want to use as your new location may need to be rezoned before you can open. Depending on where you live, the process could take anywhere from days to months.
If you are unsure about what zoning category your prospective location falls into, contact your city’s zoning department and ask them to check the property’s zoning category on file with them.
Zoning is complex and change is normally met with resistance by neighbors and government officials alike. Masterplan has decades of experience working through many complicated zoning issues, from interpreting zoning standards to facilitating the re-zoning process.
Using community engagement to get support from the neighbors and community for the requested zoning change goes a long way with public boards and councils and can also build up future patronage. You should actively seek out feedback from the community to ensure they’re on board with the plans. You might want to reach out to local neighborhood associations and see if they’d be willing to pass resolutions of support—this is where it’s especially important that you’ve been open, honest, and transparent with your neighbors about your plans.
If you aren’t able to get resolutions of support from all the neighborhood associations, don’t fret—you may still have success at the city council level. It’s important that you make an effort at an individual level as well: approach your council members and ask them what they think about your idea, tell them why you think it would be good for their district, and try to find out what their specific concerns are (if any).
Due diligence and zoning only get you so far. After getting the rights to build, it’s time to build! Depending on the type of business you want to open and the city or state that you want to operate it in, all kinds of permits will be required. These will include, but are not limited to:
- business licenses;
- local and state taxes and permits; and
- construction permits, and noise pollution permits.
Applying for the correct permits gets you closer to your goal of obtaining that Certificate of Occupancy (CO).
The first thing you’ll need is a site plan and building plans, which are required by most municipalities. A typical site plan includes information like setbacks from the street, parking area, etc., while the building plans will show the physical layout of the building itself. These plans should be referenced when you apply for all necessary permits, as they will help explain what you intend to do with your building and why. Some municipalities also require structural calculations for any commercial or multi-family buildings over a certain size—these calculations are often done by an engineer and ensure that the structure is safe during its expected lifespan.
Other permits will depend on whether or not you’re doing any renovations or additions to the property (if so, you’ll likely also need inspections).
- A certificate of occupancy (CO) is needed when a change of use of land or a building, a change of tenant on an existing CO, or an existing use increases or decreases floor area.
Choosing a business location is no easy feat. It’s a crucial step in starting a business.
A business location strategy takes strategic planning, research, and a willingness to explore all your options. The location of your business plays a significant role in its success. Setting up your business in the right place in the right way will make for a strong foundation for your future success.
Choosing the best location for your business is crucial to your overall success, so do the necessary research before committing to a location is important. Be sure to think about your location not only as a business owner but also from the point of view of an employee or potential customer. A well-informed business location strategy will ensure you find the best place to set up shop and open your doors for business.
These tips are sure to help you navigate successfully through the beginning stages of your business journey!