Location Strategy

You've heard it a thousand times: location, location, location. Those three magical words are the driving force behind the real estate industry, the mantra of retail stores everywhere, and the essence of choosing where to put your business. Your business plan needs to describe the base you'll operate from, so you're going to need to know what market you'll call home. When it comes time to choose a location for your business, there are a myriad of factors to consider, and you should be as thorough and critical as possible because this can truly be a make-or-break decision for your business plan.

There are several resources online that can offer solid tips about the choice of location. Many include detailed comparisons of different cities, ideas about relocation, lease-versus-purchase comparisons, and general FAQs to make your decision easier. You can find details about how to carve out a market niche in a small town, how to start a kiosk business, how to manage a bi-coastal business, how to make a business profitable in an area that is seen as "bad for business," how to negotiate your lease, ideas for sharing an office space, and more. These resources can prove hugely useful to entrepreneurs trying to finalize the first section of the business plan who do not know what market their product or service should call home. Before making this decision, however, it is vital that you first determine what type of business location you plan to pursue. Is your business home-based? Retail? Mobile? Is it commercial, or industrial? This entry point needs to be firmly established before you agonize over physical location.

The next most important factor to consider—before you finish your business plan, and preferably before the "location, location, location" chant drives you up the wall—is whether your business model is the sort that will be adversely affected by location or not. Web-based wholesalers, for example, can perform their function every bit as effectively in Duluth as in New York City; provided there are not disproportionate incentives for locating your business in one place over another, you can go ahead and work from any location you please. The bottom line is that the true importance of location to your business rests entirely upon the type of business you operate, the resources and physical facilities you will need, and, perhaps most importantly, where your customers are. In the main, retail and distribution-based businesses need to consider location far more seriously than information-based or service organizations that can perform their primary functions at the same level regardless of location. No matter what sort of business you plan to run, make sure that your decision about its location is a