Choosing your workplace
One of the jokes that can be made about people starting small businesses
is that the rst thing they want to do is to search for premises. It is an
understandable desire, as premises are tangible proof of the creation of an
enterprise. However, today it is possible to run a business, even with several
people, without ever having separate business premises.
The concept of ‘the virtual business’ is no longer a joke. Given the com-
munications now available – e-mail, broadband, fax, telephone and mobile
phone – it would now be possible for several people to group together,
operating from their respective homes, and to create a business, com-
municating regularly and at length. You could also use freelancers and
subcontractors, again operating from their homes, rather than employees.
At a stroke, a ‘virtual business’ removes the burden of two major overheads,
rent and employees, and many enterprises are discovering the benets that
this brings. You could adopt this strategy as an initial phase until the busi-
ness is more established, or as a permanent way of operation.
If you decide that your business cannot operate without premises, it is a
very important step to take. Finding the right premises at just the right
location for just the right price can prove to be extraordinarily difcult.
Unless you have decided to retail only through the Internet, a large part of
the setting-up process for a retail business will be devoted to the search for
a good location. And you cannot afford to compromise and take premises
that with a bit of luck will be OK. You have to be satised that the premises
meet all your criteria; if they do not, carry on the search until you nd the
Choosing your workplace 193
What is in this chapter?
where is your business to be located? (p. 193).
working from home (p. 196).
what other sort of premises? (p. 198).
searching for premises (p. 199).
investigating and negotiating (p. 201).
Where is your business to be located?
An important rst exercise would be to start with a blank piece of paper
and think about location from rst principles. What is the ideal location
for the type of business you have in mind? At a later stage, you can intro-
duce the constraints placed on location, such as home and family. You
should know the ideal location so you can estimate the effect of conces-
sions you are making to these outside non-business constraints. There may
be further constraints, such as the lack of nance, which may cause
you to compromise.
How dependent is the success of your business on communications: road,
rail, air, bus? This could be important if:
you deliver your product.
your business is service-based to particular areas of the population.
you sell your product direct, using salespeople.
your business is dependent on import and export.
In these and other categories of business, an ideal location would allow
easy access to the relevant parts of the country. For example, if import/
export is your trade, a location within reach of a major airport could be
an advantage. Or, if you sell direct to the whole country, you need access
If your business is dependent on the use of certain skills, you may nd
that one part of the country is more abundantly endowed with potential
employees who have already acquired those skills than other parts. On the