The location of a business is one of the most important variables in determining its success, says Liz Cashon, innovation campus manager at National Agri-Food Innovation Campus (NAFIC). In this article, she advises on some of the key things to consider to make sure you get the right location and space to help your business succeed.
Even if you only operate online, the adage of location, location, location still rings true, and finding the right location could be the difference between meeting your growth plans or not.
Before you start looking for business space, you need to have a clear picture of what you must have, what you can’t have and how much you're able to pay.
While many start-up mistakes can be corrected later on, a poor choice of location is sometimes impossible to repair.
Key things to consider are:
Your address is the front door to your customers or clients and first impressions count. Ask yourself: What does this address say about your company? Make sure the location reflects the image you want to project. NAFIC has a global reputation for science and innovation and it really helps start-ups who want to establish themselves in this sector, gain an automatic level of credibility within the scientific and research communities, by having an innovation campus as part of their address.
If you’re looking for footfall, you don't want to be tucked away in a corner where people are likely to bypass you, and even the best retail areas have dead spots. By contrast, if your business requires a level of confidentiality you may not want to be located in a high-traffic area. You need to find a place that makes it easy for your target customers or clients to connect with you on the right terms. Business parks and campus environments can often mean you are co-located with your target audience.
How are you going to access and attract the right skills to establish and grow your business? While you may be small now, you will need access to the right talent pool if you want to grow. Relevant universities, or being based in an area known for a specialist skill set for your business needs, will always help. Many of our tenants are attracted to us because of the strong knowledge economy and network of universities across Yorkshire, meaning they find recruitment relatively simple. It also worth remembering that when recruiting, people see location and the amenities on offer at the location almost as important as the job that they are applying for.
Find out about the days and hours of service and access to locations you're considering. Are the heating and cooling systems left on or turned off at night and on weekends? If you're inside an office building, are there periods when exterior doors are locked and, if so, can you have keys? It doesn’t matter how beautiful your office building is or how cheap it is if you need to work weekends or your customers are in America and you need to work at night, and the building is closed or they allow you access but there’s no heating.
Competition or Collaboration
Look at what other businesses are in the vicinity. It may be that you can benefit from nearby businesses by the customers they generate, either because those companies and their employees could become your customers, or because it may be convenient for you to be their customer. Many of our tenants benefit from cross-sharing of knowledge, skills and customers.
Having a support network as a young business is vital. You need to judge the landscape around you and understand what support is available on a national, regional and local level. Often on campus-style spaces you find a collegiate and supportive network amongst tenants, which helps different businesses access advice and offers mutual support to enable sharing of experiences and learnings in order to grow. Getting advice from those in your sector that have knowledge of funding or grants can really help. We have close government ties so are often able to support tenants with access to various pots of funding and grants.
Don’t be tied into an onerous property contract that doesn’t reflect your business plan. As a young business a short lease or a contract offering an early break is attractive as you aren’t tied to a space forever and if growth is slower – or faster - than you thought you need a realistic option. Make sure you know what the total cost will be. In addition to rent there will be other costs like services charges, utilities, insurance, rates and VAT to add in. Ask up front so that you understand your liability.
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