Commercial rents are still fairly low and vacancies are still fairly high. Many small business owners are taking advantage of these conditions to open new locations. Should you take this step? GrowSmartBiz contributor Maria Valdez Haubrich offers small business owners five things to consider before deciding to open a second location.
1. Start small. “You can make things easier by starting with just one additional location,” Haubrich wrote. “[C]onsider setting up shop in the same city as your first location-that way, not only will both sites be close enough for your convenience, but customers will already be familiar with what you offer, helping your business to grow.”
2. Do your homework. Haubrich suggested using the Internet to do research on any new city or state you’re considering expanding into. “You can view information including population, age and family makeup, median household income, average home prices and more for any city that you search,” she wrote. “Also visit the website of the city you’re considering-you’ll usually find demographic information and links to offices that can help you do additional research and get all your paperwork in order.”
3. Look for perks. Find out how business-friendly the new city or state is by learning if they offer any tax breaks or economic-development assistance, or if they have special programs to help entrepreneurs, Haubrich advised.
4. Scope it out. “Visit the city before making your decision and talk to entrepreneurs who are already in business there,” Haubrich wrote. “Also visit the sites you’re considering to observe things like traffic, parking availability and foot traffic.”
5. Get “personnel.” Lastly, Haubrich suggests investigating the labor force in the new city or state. “If you’re opening up shop far from your current location, are there enough job candidates in the new area who have the skills you need? Are average salaries or wages within your budget? Will you have to deal with any new regulations you didn’t experience in your current area?” she wrote.
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