*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a small business story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.
Business and finance are interwoven; they depend on each other. Location affects both of these factors. If you have customers coming to you, a location can make or break a business unless it's an online business. Once the business is established and you have built up a solid customer base, people will most likely come to you regardless, but initially location is critical. There are several factors to consider when choosing a home for your business.
Proximity to Competitors
The first thing to consider when locating a business is the proximity to competitors. Are there any other businesses like yours in the area or is yours unique? Too much competition in one area isn't good. When I opened my small business, I chose an area in the outskirts of the city where there were residential areas and businesses popping up everywhere. To top it all off, there were no other businesses in the area like mine at the time. By the following year, there were two more somewhat similar businesses and instead of monopolizing the customer base, the three of us were sharing customers. Unique is good.
Zoning and Sign Ordinances
Another important factor before signing a lease is to make sure your business meets the zoning law requirements. First off, sometimes there are restrictions on whether or not you can conduct your business in that particular zone. If not, then you have the option to apply for a variance, but know upfront that it will take up to several months for approval, if in fact it does get approved. Due to zoning restriction, my building had to be placed behind the front plane of the adjacent main building I was leasing the land from, setting my building back further from the road than I would have preferred.
There are even restrictions on the size, height and placement of signs for advertisement. There again, signs have to be placed a certain distance from the road in some cases. Make sure to research and know all of the regulations to consider before choosing a location that will most definitely affect the future of your business.
Ease of Access and Visibility
Again, if you have customers coming to you then access plays a key role. It is essential, especially when starting up a business, to be on a main road and/or a road well traveled. The lifestyle today gravitates toward "ease". Offering plenty of parking that is easy to access is welcoming to customers.
Another access, not along the same lines but equally important, is the capability of setting up lines and poles for electricity if already not established. This is quite costly initially when adding it to all the other business expenses. Similarly, you need to consider the need for cable or telephone lines if Internet capabilities are desired, especially when processing credit and debit cards.
Is the Rent Affordable?
Make sure you can afford the rent. Chances are if the rent is high, then there is a good reason for it. The area is probably a prime location with lots of visibility. There is a fine line between what you can afford and what you may have to pay. In the end, it might just pay off.
Customers don't want to frequent an area where they don't feel safe. Employees don't want to work in an environment where they don't feel secure. The security of your customers and employees will set the tone for the business environment as a whole. Plus, you also increase your risk of structural and personal liability in unsafe areas. Provide a comfortable setting for everyone.
Maybe not as important as some of the others but something to consider is the convenience of the location for you. Balancing family and business can be tough sometimes so locating in an area that decreases your driving time to work when balancing family commitments on a daily basis is certainly something to ponder.
As a business owner, location definitely affects me in one way or another. Examine all aspects, weigh your priorities and choose an area that will nurture your business and have a positive impact on your finances.
More from this contributor: