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Starting a Business

How do I go about choosing a location for my retail business?

Choosing the perfect location for your business.




The best retail location combines visibility, affordability and lease terms you can live with. Brick-and-mortar retailers 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. 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 a 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 neighbouring stores
  • Adequacy of parking
  • Vulnerability to competition
  • Cost of the site


Unfortunately, some retail landlords actually hinder the operation of their tenants’ businesses. In fact, the landlord may be largely responsible for the demise of the premises and retailers’ failure. For instance, some landlords restrict the placement and size of signs, forego or ignore needed maintenance and repairs, or rent adjacent retail spaces to incompatible or directly competing businesses.

Sometimes landlords lack the funds to maintain their properties. Rather than continuing to invest in their holdings and support their tenants, they try to squeeze out whatever they can get. In addition to speaking with current tenants, talk to previous tenants of the location you have in mind.

They can give you helpful information. Find out what businesses they were in and why they left.

  • Did they fail or just move?
  • What support or hindrances did the landlord provide?
  • Would they rent from this landlord again?

Zoning and Planning

Your local town planning office, which is usually located at the local municipality, can give you the latest mapping of the retail location and surrounding areas that you are considering. Here are some questions to think about:

  • Are there restrictions that will limit your operations?
  • Will construction or changes in city traffic or new highways present barriers to your shop?
  • Will any competitive advantages you currently find at the location you’re considering be diminished by zoning changes that will be advantageous for competitors or even allow new competitors to enter your trade area?

Most zoning and town planning departments can probably provide you with valuable insights to help you with information regarding retail locations.

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Starting a Business

What are the do’s and don’ts of securing an online domain name?

We asked founder, Wayne Diamond, what the do’s and don’ts are when it comes to entrepreneurs registering domain names for their start-ups…

Wayne Diamond



There’s that L-word again:

“Location, location, location”. It’s the make or break decision. Every estate agent and business owner cannot overemphasise the importance of this Critical Business Decision Number 2 (Number 1, of course, has to do with what you’re going to sell!).

Related: As a start-up, what are the most important areas I should be looking at?


Whatever business you’re in, being close to customers and convenient to business partners and suppliers is essential. That bricks-and-mortar wisdom is equally true in the world of online commerce. Having the right domain name and the right support for your online presence has emerged as a real driver of success.

Some figures put the scale of the opportunity into perspective: US e-commerce is predicted to reach $440 billion by 2017, showing a compound annual growth of 13.8%[1]. While the Internet economy is in its infancy in South Africa and Africa, it is growing strongly: research by World Wide Worx showed that consumers, small and medium businesses and government were already purchasing products and services worth R59 billion on the web three years ago.[2]

So how to secure the best and most profitable Internet real estate to make sure your business can ride the e-commerce wave?

It’s all in the name:

The first decision is what domain to use. One of the exciting developments is the launch of new Internet domain names, so it’s definitely no longer a choice of .com or The proposed dotAfrica (.africa) geoTLD (geographic Top Level Domain) is one option that’s set to come online around the first quarter of next year, but what about the ZAdotCities domains of .joburg, .capetown or .durban? Domain names within these additional geoTLDs will be able to be snapped up by the public around November this year.

While .com remains a good choice for truly international businesses, choosing a domain name with some local flavour is probably going to work well for many companies.

The greater range of domain names also makes it more possible that you will be able to choose the right name for your business. When it comes to the more established domains, like .com or, chances are higher that the name you want has already been taken.

When it comes to that all-important name, received wisdom used to be that short was best, but the trend nowadays seems to have reversed—even phrases are now used. The key is to choose a name that is easily recognisable, that will stick in peoples’ minds and that describes the business well.

Perhaps a good example is the domain used by the writer of this article: is both a brand name and a name that perfectly describes the nature of the business. At just seven characters in length, “domains” is also an easy to spell, easy to remember word – keeping names under ten characters is guaranteed to help audience recall.

Something people will remember easily is absolutely vital.

Some companies use specific names for individual campaigns, but always make sure the business as a whole has its own web address.

Experience has shown that it’s probably worthwhile to register similar domain names to the one you choose, just to keep competitors from taking them in an effort to sow confusion.

My final advice: it’s always a good idea to use an ISPA (Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA) member to help you register the chosen address of your start-up. That way you’ll be sure that all the formalities are correct, and that the company you’re dealing with abides by ISPA’s code of conduct.

Finally, as there are already almost 950 000 domains registered, it’s a good idea to surf to and perform searches to see if the domain you would like is indeed available.

Related: Does the South African government award grants to franchisees?

[1] Chuck Jones, “Ecommerce is growing nicely while mcommerce is on a tear”, Forbes, 2 October 2013, available at

[2] “Internet 2% of SA economy”, 29 May 2012, available at

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Starting a Business

How to protect your business idea when sending them to financial instituitons?

Signing an NDA, is it necessary?

Anton Ressel



How can I protect my business idea before I submit my business plan to financial institutions and other agencies for help?

You have a few options:

Firstly, you can include a disclaimer as an introductory clause, saying that any and all information contained in the business plan and related documents remain the Intellectual Property of xxx (your name) and may not be reproduced, copied or used in any manner without express written consent. This is not legally binding, but usually enough.

Secondly, you could ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which is more binding from a legal perspective. The downside of this is that it can come across as arrogant, especially from someone who is approaching us for help. Personally I refuse to sign any NDA from clients who approach me for help, it just smacks of mistrust and arrogance.

On a final note, good ideas always get copied. If you are that worried that your idea will be stolen, you may need to re-look at it and find ways to make it difficult to replicate, or better yet, make sure you are first to market.

Related: As a start-up, what are the most important areas I should be looking at?

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Starting a Business

Does the South African government award grants to franchisees?

In my experience, unless you as the entrepreneur have some ‘skin in the game’ and a reason to get up and make the business work every morning, it seldom will.

Anton Ressel



I am considering purchasing a children’s education franchise and wanted to know if the government offers grants. The cost of the franchise is R 86 000. If so what are the criteria to qualify and how does one go about it?

Accessing grant funding for a franchise may prove challenging, unless that franchise is registered and accredited, in which case there is a fund that may consider it – see CNBC for more info.

Otherwise, you could look at and see if any of those sources of financing are of interest. It naturally depends on your own PDI (previously disadvantaged individual) status as many of these funds are focused on youth, women and PDI’s.

Finally, on an emotional level I would caution against going all out for grant funding and not loan finance. In my experience, unless you as the entrepreneur have some ‘skin in the game’ and a reason to get up and make the business work every morning, it seldom will.


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