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Start-up Advice

How to Find the Right Location for Your Store

Smart advice to help you choose the best location for your new retail business.

Entrepreneur

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luis vutton

The best location for a brick-and-mortar retail business combines visibility, affordability, and lease terms you can live with. You need to be where the action is, so deciding where to put your business is every bit as important as the business you decide to go into.

Take the time to analyse the areas that appeal to you. Study the business and consumer pages to see where you can find business support services and a growing community of people with regular incomes and interest in the goods or services you plan to offer.

Related: How do I choose a location for my business?

There are three phases of choosing a location for your retail business: Selection of a city, choice of an area or type of location within a city, and identification of a specific site.

In choosing a city, investigate these main factors:

  • Size of the city’s trading area
  • Population and population trends
  • Total purchasing power and who has it
  • Total retail trade potential for different lines of trade
  • Number and size of competition
  • Quality and aggressiveness of competition.

Once you have a general idea of what city you like, choose an area or type of location within that city by evaluating these:

  • Customer attraction power
  • The nature of competition
  • Availability of access routes to the stores
  • Zoning regulations
  • Geographic direction of the city’s expansion
  • General appearance of the area
  • Sales and traffic growth prospects of the trade area
  • Demographics of neighbourhoods.

These are factors in narrowing down your site choices:

  • Traffic flow
  • Complementary nature of neighboring stores
  • Adequacy of parking
  • Vulnerability to competition
  • Cost of the site.

Use the Scribble Maps app to create your power zone. Place an “X” where your business will be. Then draw three circles that represent 5, 10, and 15 miles from you. This is where your bread-and-butter customers live and/or work. Will their demographics support 75 percent, 20 percent, or 5 percent of the sales you need?

Google Trends is a great research tool to identify the location of differing appetites around the world. It tracks the frequency of search terms by rank, location, and language. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area comes up high on the list when searching the term “raw food” making a raw juice and snack concept well placed for success.

You’ll also want to see if the population is growing or declining. Are there seasonal variations in population that favor your type of business, or will you suffer when students, families, or snowbirds leave town? And you’ll want to check out the activity during the week, weekends, daytime, and nighttime to see if it’s in alignment with your business plans.

Pinpointing a specific site is particularly important. In central and secondary business districts, small stores depend on the traffic created by large stores or a group of stores.

These stores depend on attracting customers from the existing flow of traffic. However, where sales depend on nearby residents, selecting the trading area is more important than picking the specific site.

Type of products and location choiceclothing-store-merchandise_store-location

Another factor that affects site selection is the customer’s view of the goods you sell or the services you offer. Customers tend to group products into three major categories: convenience, shopping, and specialty goods.

1. Convenience goods

Convenient goods are usually low-priced, frequently purchased items that require little selling effort, are bought by habit, and are sold in numerous outlets. Candy bars, newspapers, cigarettes, and milk are examples.

Quantity of traffic is most important to stores handling convenience goods. The corner of an intersection that offers two traffic streams and a large window display area is usually a better location than the middle of a block because convenience goods are often purchased on impulse in easily accessible stores.

If consumers must make a special trip to purchase food and drug items, they’ll want the store to be close to home. Studies show that the majority of people in the central city patronising these stores shop within one to five blocks of their homes, and in suburban locations, the majority of customers live within three to five miles of the stores.

For rural locations, the average driving time is 10 minutes, with 20 minutes being the maximum time customers will travel to a convenience store.

2. Shopping goods

Usually have a high unit price, are purchased infrequently, and require an intensive selling effort. The customer does price and feature comparisons, and products are sold in selectively franchised outlets. Examples include men’s suits, automobiles, and furniture.

For stores handling shopping goods, the quality of the traffic is important. While convenience goods are purchased by nearly everyone, certain kinds of shopping goods are purchased only by segments of shoppers. Moreover, it’s sometimes the character of the retail establishment rather than its type of goods that governs the site selection.

For example, a conventional men’s clothing store generally does best in a downtown location close to a traffic generator like a department store. On the other hand, a discount menswear store tends to require an accessible highway location.

In many cases, buyers of shopping goods like to compare the items in several stores by traveling only a minimum distance. As a result, stores offering complementary items tend to locate close to one another.

Related: Choosing a Retail Location: 3 Priorities You Might Be Forgetting

Another excellent site for a shopping goods store is next to a department store, or between two large department stores, where traffic flows between them. Another option is to locate between a major parking area and a department store.

A retailer dealing in shopping goods can have a much wider trading area than convenience goods stores. Without a heavily trafficked location, this more expensive type of store can generate its own traffic. In this case, a location with a low traffic count but easy accessibility from a residential area is a satisfactory site.

3. Specialty goods

Usually have a high price tag, are bought infrequently, and require a special effort to make the purchase. Precious jewelry, expensive perfume, and rare antiques are in this merchandise category. Specialty goods are often sought by customers who are already “sold” on the product, brand, or both. Stores catering to this type of consumer may use isolated locations because they generate their own consumer traffic. In general, specialty goods retailers should locate in neighborhoods where the adjacent stores and other establishments are compatible with their operations.

Retail compatibility

Only the exceptional operation, such as a restaurant or a freestanding discount house, can survive in isolation. A cluster of stores creates more traffic, exposes more people to your business, and creates a buying atmosphere that a single store cannot. Customers are attracted by crowds and like their shopping trips to be social outings.

Having said this, it’s critical to select the right community and site for your particular store. Will the other businesses generate traffic for your store? Or will you be located near operations that may clash with yours?

For example, a children’s store in a service centre of hardware stores and automotive repair businesses doesn’t get enough exposure to its target audience to be successful.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Start-up Advice

Put On Your Wellies: It’s Time To Wade Into Risk

Entrepreneurs aren’t all leaping into the unknown like lemmings off a cliff, but they do need to consider it…

Chris Ogden

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You’ve had a great idea. You’ve looked into its development. You’ve recognised that it has potential beyond just what Auntie Mabel and Mike From The Grocer think. And you’ve clearly nailed a pain point that can make money. Now it is time to take the risk of running with it.

Every big idea comes with risk. You can’t step out into the world of entrepreneurial thinking and business development without it. Your idea may fail. It will also be time consuming, demanding, hungry for money, and hard work. It is unrealistic to expect that your project will leap out into the world and be an unmitigated success.

It is also unrealistic to assume that it isn’t worth taking this risk.

There are steps that you can follow to ensure that your risk is managed so you aren’t blindly leaping off that cliff…

Step 01: Do your research

No, canvassing your neighbours, friends and family is not doing research. You need to know that your idea will appeal to a broad market and that it will have significant legs. This may sound like daft advice, but you would be surprised how many people think an idea will take off just because Susan in Accounting said so.

Step 02: Understand the costs

Projects are hungry for money and investment. Realistically work out your budgets and how much it will cost to take your project off the ground and then stick to it.

A calculated risk is a far better bet than one that shoots from the hip and hopes for the best. You can also use this as an opportunity to draw a clear line under where you will stop investing and end the project. If it keeps eating money and isn’t getting anywhere with results you need to be able to walk away.

Step 03: Know when to walk away

As mentioned before, this can be defined by a line you’ve drawn in the proverbial sand (and budget) but no matter where you draw this line, you have to stick to it. Often, when time, money and energy have been poured into a project it can be incredibly hard to walk away.

You think ‘but I have put so much into this, just one more’ and then it gets to a point where the ‘just one more’ has taken you so far down the line that walking away feels impossible. Leave. Learn the lessons. Apply them to your next project.

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Start-up Advice

Mind The Gap

The entrepreneur’s guide to finding the gaps and building the right solutions.

Chris Ogden

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entrepreneurship-gap

Innovation may very well be the key to business success but finding the gap into which your innovative thinking can fit is often a lot harder than people realise. Some may be struck by inspiration in the shower, others by that moment of blinding insight in a meeting, however, for most people finding that big idea isn’t that simple. They want to be an entrepreneur and start their own high-growth business, but they need some ideas on how to find that big idea.

Here are five…

1. Network

It sounds trite but networking is actually an excellent way of picking up on patterns and trends in conversation and business problems. The trick is to note them down and pay attention. Soon, you will find patterns emerging and ideas forming.

2. Look for pain

Just as networking can reveal trends in the market, so can spending time reading. The latter will also help you find common business pain points. These are the touchpoints that frustrate people, annoy business owners, affect productivity, or impact employee engagement.

Be the Panado that fixes these pains.

3. Luck

luck

This is probably the most annoying of the ideas, but it is unfortunately (or fortunately) very true. Luck does play a role in helping you capture that big idea. However, luck isn’t just standing around and random people offering you opportunities. Luck is found at networking events, it is found in research and it is found in conversations with other entrepreneurs.

4. Luck needs courage

You may have found the big idea through your network, a pain point or pure blind luck, but if you don’t have the courage to take it and run with it, you will lose it to someone else.

Being bold in business is highly underrated because most people assume that everyone is bold and prepared to take big leaps into the unknown. However, not all brilliant entrepreneurs were ready to throw their family funds to the wind and leap into an idea – they were courageous enough to figure out a way of harnessing their ideas realistically.

5. Pay attention

This is probably one of the most vital ways of finding a gap in the market. Often, people are so busy that they don’t really pay attention to that niggling issue that always bothers them on a commute, or in a mall, or at a meeting. This niggling issue could very well be the next big business opportunity. Pay attention to it and find out if that issue can be solved with your innovative thinking.

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Start-up Advice

5 Things To Know About Your “Toddler” Business

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind.

Catherine Black

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Ah, toddlers. Those irresistible bundles of joy bring a huge amount of energy, curiosity and fun to any family – but there’s also frustration and worry that comes with their unpredictability, as they grow and start to become more independent. If you own a business and it’s successfully past its “infancy” of the first year or so, it’s likely it will also go through a toddler stage of its lifecycle.

Pete Hammond, founder of luxury safari company SafariScapes, agrees with this. “Our business is now three and a half years old, and we’ve found that we’re not yet big enough to justify employing a large team of people to handle the day-to-day admin tasks, yet we still need to grow the business as well,” he says. “As a result, our main challenge is finding the time to step back and see the bigger picture. Kind of like when you are raising a busy toddler and you spend most of your time running after them!”

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind:

1. This too shall pass

Everything in life is temporary – and that goes for both the good and the bad. It’s as helpful to remember this when you’re facing the might of a toddler temper tantrum, as it is when you’re facing throws of uncertainty in your business. If your new(ish) venture is going through a rough patch in its first few years, it can be easy to think about giving up – but don’t. As long as you have an overall big idea that you believe can add value to your customers, keep pushing through the rough parts until you come out the other side.

2. Appreciate what this phase brings

The toddler years mean that the initial newborn joy is officially behind you. But these small humans also bring their own kinds of joy, as you watch them learn new skills, say funny things, and give affection back to you. While your two-year-old business may not hold the same exhilaration for you as it did during those first few months, there are now different things to appreciate about it: Maybe you’re expanding your product range, or employing new people who can take the workload off you.

3. Establish boundaries

Toddlers thrive on boundary and routine – and your toddler business will too. As it grows into a new phase, try and establish limits in terms of the type of clients you want to work with and the type of work you’ll do. It’s also a good idea to make a decision about the hours you’ll work and when you’ll switch off, which will help you establish a good work-life balance.

4. Take a break

Every parent with a toddler needs a break every now and then, even if that means a walk around the block (on your own!), a dinner out with friends, or even a few days away. The same is true for a demanding small business: every so often, remember to take time out to rest properly, where you switch off your laptop and completely unplug. You’ll return much more inspired and resilient to deal with the everyday uncertainty that it brings.

5. Give it space to make mistakes

While the unpredictability of a young business can be stressful and tiring, it’s also a time for trying new things without the risk of huge consequences if they don’t quite work. After all, it’s much simpler to change your USP if you’re a small business employing a few people, rather than a big company where 50 people are relying on you for their salary, or where you’ve received a huge amount of investment capital. While you may fail in some of the things you try with your business (in fact, this is almost guaranteed), see it as a toddler that’s resilient enough to pick itself up, dust its knees and keep moving forward.

During this phase of business growth it’s also essential to have the right type of medical aid cover. There are medical schemes such as Fedhealth which has a number of medical aid options and value-added benefits to ensure that your health and wellness is taken care of too. After all, the healthier you and your staff are, the more productive your business will be – during the toddler (business) stage and beyond.

While this phase can be frustrating, it’s a sign that your business is growing and adapting, rather than remaining in its infancy, and that can only be a good thing! So embrace the difficulties, learn from them, and watch as your business strides forward confidently into the next exciting phase.

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