Choosing your business premises

Choose the best place to operate your business.

Where you locate your business will be determined largely by your type of activity, where your customers are, the size and stage of your operation, legal requirements, and available finances.
 
You should include information about your business location and building type in your business plan, marketing plan, emergency plan and succession plan. The information below will help you identify other considerations such as finances, taxes, insurances, licences, security and employment.
 
It’s important to regularly consider what works for your business and whether you need to change your location and premises as your business develops.
 
Even if you run your business online, you’ll still need a physical space from which to operate your business, such as a place for your computer or to store your stock. You may be able to do this at home in an office or garage, or may choose to rent a commercial space.

You are strongly advised to seek legal advice before signing a lease or buying a property.

When you sign a lease or contract, you are committed to fulfilling its obligations. Be mindful that both are legal documents.

Premises types
 
Use the premises checklist below to help you choose the best place to operate your business. You may need to contact the council connected to the premises you are viewing, or search for reputable information online to help you answer some of the questions.

Premises checklist

Factor Not Applicable Low Importance Medium Importance High Importance
Your customers, staff and suppliers
Is your location convenient for them?
If location on a particular side of the street is important, is the proposed premises on the preferred side?
Is your location visible and accessible to foot traffic?  Approximately how many people pass your location daily?
Is your location visible and accessible to vehicle traffic?  Approximately how many vehicles pass your location daily?
Are car parking facilities accessible and adequate?  How many customer and staff parking bays are there?
Is there on-street parking?
How far is the site to your suppliers?
Will your staff be comfortable and motivated to work at the site?
Neighbourhood
What is the character/reputation of the neighbourhood (consider crime rates)?
Are neighbouring businesses suitable and do they appear healthy?
Are complementary businesses close by?
Are there any vacant premises? Why? For how long? Have similar businesses failed/succeeded in this location?
Are there any major changes/developments/works contemplated in the area?
Are there any restrictions on signage in the area?
Premises condition/maintenance
Does the site project the right image about your business (e.g. appearance)?
What is the condition of the premises (e.g. fixtures, fittings, plant and equipment)?
What age are they?  How long will maintenance take? What is the likelihood of major repairs being required?
Are there adequate utilities (e.g. sewerage, water, power, gas)?
Can you contact previous tenants or owners to determine the history of the site? Have any disadvantages become apparent?
Are storage facilities adequate?
Transport
Is public transport available? Is it an important issue?
Will the cost of shipment of goods to and from the site be a major factor?
Is there site access for deliveries?
Financial
Can you afford the premises? Have you assessed alternatives?
Are the terms of the lease on offer suitable?
What outgoings will you be responsible for?
What amount of security deposit or bank guarantee is required?
What insurance(s) will you need?
Do you need to give your landlord a rental bond or bank guarantee?
What happens if you breach the terms of the lease?
If you are a company, do you understand fully what providing directors’ guarantees means?
Future
Do the premises offer scope for expansion?
Will zoning restrictions conflict with future needs?  (Check with the local council if there are any planned developments or zoning changes.)

 

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Planning templates

Use these free planning templates and guides to help you better plan, prepare, manage, and exit a business. Investing time into proper research and planning can help turn your ideas into reality, and prepare you for what’s to come.

Business plan

A business plan works as a guide when your business is operating; how you operate, planning the future and preparing for risks. It is also often a required document for finance applications.

Marketing plan

An effective marketing plan can help you set clear, realistic and measurable marketing objectives for your business. It can boost your customer base increasing your bottom line.

Emergency plan

Your business is critical to your financial wellbeing, so you’ll want to protect it as much as you can against emergencies and disasters.

Succession plan

Planning for the day you leave your business is a valuable investment.