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5 Issues Faced by Storefront Startups

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Starting an online business is tough, but launching a storefront startup can be even more difficult. Although each business model faces similar difficulties as they pertain to customers, capital, inventory and employees, the challenges of finding the right location can help or hinder the storefront startup as it moves past its inevitable growing pains. Here’s what you need to consider before opening up your own storefront startup.

Attracting Customers

Operating a storefront requires that you attract local customers to your place of business. First and foremost, you must ensure that there is a local market for your business. Once you’ve determined that your idea adds value to the marketplace, you need to develop and implement a solid marketing plan before the business launches.

Internet startups are a little more forgiving since customers can come to your virtual doors from all over the world. Some new businesses combine a storefront and an online presence to reach more people. Pool Guard Manufacturing, for example, has both brick and mortar stores plus a website that educates current and potential customers about their products and helps them find local dealers.

Startup Capital

Starting an Internet business can be relatively inexpensive. You need only pay for a fast Internet connection, high-quality web design and analytics, and your inventory, if necessary. You may also incur storage fees as well as hiring expenses if your online business grows fast enough.

A significant amount of startup capital is required to open a storefront. You will need to buy or lease an appropriate building, which may require renovation. You’ll need to buy equipment, hire on-site staff, secure required inspections and licenses and more. And then you have to market your product.

Whether you’re opening an Internet-based business or a storefront startup, if your expenses are high you may need to secure a loan or additional investors before you can hang the “open” sign on the door.

The Cost of Doing Business

Overhead is the amount it costs you to do business. Your rent or mortgage, utility bills and building maintenance costs are all part of your overhead, as are any costs that don’t contribute directly to the making of your product or service. Internet-based business typically incur less overhead costs than do storefront businesses, because they don’t have a physical plant that needs maintenance.

Location, Location, Location

The location of an Internet business doesn’t really matter. As long as you have a website address that makes it easy for online customers to find your business, you’re golden. People opening a storefront business, however, must give a lot of thought to where their business is located. For example, if you’re selling expensive jewelry, you don’t want to open a shop in a neighborhood where most people have below-average incomes.

The best locations for storefront startups tend to be strip malls and downtown shopping districts. Indoor malls are also an option, but renting space in them can be costly. Indoor malls have also experienced decreased popularity over the years, and many have closed their doors permanently.

The Fine Print

Internet startups, especially small ones, are usually only loosely policed and many aren’t required to adhere to zoning laws and other important legislation, local or otherwise.

Storefronts, however, must comply with zoning laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, fire codes and other legislation. You will also be required to purchase a license or permit allowing you to conduct business.

All of these issues can make storefront startups a challenge; however, if you have your heart set on opening one, don’t give up your dream. Many people have dealt with these issues and managed not just to survive but to prosper. All it takes is planning, hard work and perhaps just a smidgen of luck.

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