Perspectives

Get ready to “open for business”

You’ve had your great idea. You’ve written the business plan. You’ve raised the finance. Now for the part when it finally all starts to feel real – you find your first business premises, kit them out… and then open for business. Here’s how to make the process run smoothly.

Dog grooming

1. Find your ideal place

Put together a very tight brief for the business premises you’re looking for. Location is often critical, but ensure you balance it with the price you can afford to pay to make your business viable. Also consider issues such as fit-out costs, footfall, available parking, business rates, competition, available services, ease of deliveries and local amenities. Split your brief into essential and desirable criteria, and only visit premises which fulfil all your essential ones. Be disciplined about this – it’s crucial.

2. Sort out the legals

It’s certainly not the fun bit, but ensure that the premises have the correct planning permissions for your type of business, and that you arrange the appropriate insurance, licences, health and safety and accessibility compliances, stamp duty, business rates (if applicable), etc etc. You will be legally responsible for the safety and wellbeing of both your staff and your customers, so it’s crucial that you know exactly what your obligations are and that you get this stage right.

3. Fit out your premises

If you’re a brand new business, make sure you’re smart about how you spend your money on any fit out. If you’re
opening a juice bar in a swanky part of town, then the store will need to reflect that upmarket customer base, as well as looking at home amongst the surrounding stores. If you’re opening a hipster-vibe pub then maybe you can afford to skimp in a few areas – especially if you opt for dark and moody lighting! However you do it, the business premises need to reflect the essence of your brand, so that people will relate to what you’re doing as a business and why. Getting them across that threshold is the first crucial step, but don’t go overboard on pricey gold fittings you don’t need…

4. Tell people you’re coming

Put a (professional-looking) banner in the window, letting people know what’s opening soon. Consider a locally-targeted social media campaign to raise awareness. Local leafleting and door dropping is still an effective method to let your customers know you’re there too. An opening event, promoted with a special offer can also be effective. Invite your friends/colleagues to come and enjoy a freebie, to ensure your store/cafe looks busy from the off. It’s an odd phenomenon, but how businesses start are often how they continue…