A long-time friend recently took the plunge: Small Business Ownership!
This decision to become an entrepreneur was not arrived at lightly. Finances were considered and scrutinized. Support – and time constraints – were discussed with the family. A solid partnership was formed so each party could back the other in different aspects of the business. And, yes, reliable contractors and a cooperative township were a must.
The first three were easier than imagined; the last part was a nightmare… and then some. Project delays. Promises broken. And plenty of stress to meet deadlines.
Opening a new storefront is exciting, but it can be fraught with challenges, especially in areas that may not be familiar to you. Here are some things to consider when becoming a business owner for the first time or opening a second location in a new town.
- Know the rules. While the eager real estate agent wants to see you succeed, doublecheck the zoning regulations yourself. Is the sale possible because a new ordinance is about to go into effect or is it still waiting for local government approval? How old is the building according to town records and is it up to code? Are the utilities going to last a long time? For instance, can the age of the HVAC be substantiated? Trust, but verify.
- Know your neighbors. It’s a great sign if other stores on your stretch of Main Street or the strip mall are thriving. But empty storefronts should say, “Caution!” requiring you to dig into “Why?” before you sign. Is there a history of dramatic rent increases? Is there a new mall (or big box store) nearby that is drawing away business? What are business owners doing separately and collectively to combat issues that are affecting their bottom lines?
- Know your contractors. This story is as old as business itself. Contractors and their subs pretty much run the show. Schedules and timelines and deadlines be darned. Before you sign the contract, find out how long a job should take and get commitments in writing. Tie payments with performance as much as possible. And do some sleuthing on your own to check the reputation of your contractor. First stop: The BBB.
- Know the unknown. Delays, permit snafus, vacationing contractors. We’ve heard it all. And very likely you have, too. So, plan accordingly, pad the schedule, and rely on the unexpected occurring.
Once all the pieces come together and you’re on your way to the Grand Opening, you can look back with pride knowing you planned as best you could on the road to becoming your town’s newest small business owner. Congratulations!