You’ve been successfully selling your products and services online for a few years now. The brand has grown to the point that you’re contemplating the idea of opening a physical storefront. Though your digital platform has been doing well, you realize there’s a certain experience that simply cannot be provided virtually. As a physical location allows your customers the opportunity to see, touch, smell, or taste the products, while also getting to interact with representatives of your brand (your staff) in person.
Going from an exclusively online business to a brick and mortar location is a transition that will require a significant investment of your time, money, and resources, but if done correctly, it can prove to take your brand to a new level. Here are some things to keep in mind as you take this next step in your business venture.
Create a Business Plan
Even if you already have a business plan from when you started your online business, you want to draft a new one that will outline your expansion to a storefront. Are you going to be selling the same products and services or do you intend to extend more options? Will you need staff, and if so, how many? Where will you get your products to sell? How much equipment will you need?
You need to have a clear understanding of the purpose of the expansion, what you’re going to offer, how much it is going to cost, and more importantly, how you intend to cover those costs and continue to generate a profit. Your business plan will come in handy as you start your brick and mortar business as well as for financing opportunities.
You should have a general idea from your business plan of how much it will take you to open and operate the new location until you’ve started generating a profit. Next up is determining where you’ll get the funding to cover it all. Hopefully, you’ve been setting aside funds on your own to reduce the amount of debt you have to go into to get started. In most instances, however, it won’t be enough to cover everything. That’s where financing opportunities come in.
You can start a crowdfunding site and ask for donations to open a storefront. Your business plan will make creating an account easier as you can provide readers with details as to your goals and purpose. There are also small business loans or lines of credit both private and government-funded that you may be able to qualify for. Just be sure you have your credit, personal financial statements, and company financial documents, statements, and reports ready to apply.
Finding a Location
Once you’ve secured the funds to start your brick and mortar shop, you’re ready to begin looking at commercial real estate to choose the ideal location. Though you have an option to buy or lease a building, leasing is always ideal in the beginning. It allows you to test the area to determine if it’s a good fit, it costs a lot less, and when issues with the property go wrong, it’s not your job to fix it.
As you look at commercial properties for your business there are some things you want to pay attention to. You want a building that is the ideal style for what you’re offering. For instance, if you’re selling clothes you don’t want to buy a restaurant space. You want a property that is located near where your target customers shop. You also want to make sure that the property has key amenities that your customers will need like plenty of parking, a commercial charging station for electric cars, and accessibility features for consumers with disabilities.
Licensing and Insurance
After signing the lease for your commercial property you’ll need to obtain the proper licenses and insurance. As you’ll be hiring staff you’ll need to register for an employer identification number and a sales license. You will also be required to have property insurance coverage as well as liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
These are just the first few steps to starting a brick and mortar location for your online business. You still need to purchase supplies and equipment, hire staff, and determine the best marketing strategies to spread the word. From there, it’s simply a matter of providing the best products and services while giving your customers an experience that keeps them coming back time and time again.