So, business is picking up and you’re Thinking of starting your own business? DON’T! (Until you read this). Then comes the difficult decision of where to establish yourself. I first rented a room in this space:
The owner of this building was a client of mine, rent was $385 per month for a small room that fit my supplies, equipment and even a desk. It was on Main Street in a downtown area, however it was upstairs above my client’s vitamin store which led to low visibility.
Before considering renting a room ask about:
- Location – Must be high traffic area with possibility for new/walk in clients. Don’t forget about ease of parking!
- Signage – Little did I know that at this location all the signage was legally taken up by the vitamin shop. So, I was denied sign permits making it very difficult for clients to find the spa let alone allow for new walk in traffic. TIP: I ordered neon signs and stuck them in the windows. The city could not legally stop us from putting signs up inside the building.
- Utilities – Loved how utilities were included here really making things simple.
- Length of contract – Do not sign a long term agreement when you’re just starting out and can’t guarantee the outcome of your business. I would not sign anything longer than one year however, I was fortunate enough to have a month to month agreement in this space. The downside is the landlord can also kick you to the curb on any given month so it goes both ways.
- Advertising – How much money will you spend on advertising? The vitamin shop had established regular customers who subscribed to the monthly newsletter, in which I was able to advertise at no cost. This was a huge advantage for gaining new clients! But, because of the lack of visibility, I still had to advertise elsewhere. Advertising can be very costly and most of mine was trial and error.
- Perks – Does the landlord help with clerical needs such as internet, phone or receptionist? In this space, I had to pay for it all. It’s amazing how internet providers raise rates for business owners! My home internet was only $25 per month in the same city, but because it was a business address it was $60 per month. Then I had to add a cell phone line for the business and be my own receptionist often missing calls while I was with another client.
- Expectations – I was floored that the landlord expected the tennants to clean the entire space. All the technicians rented individual rooms but the downstairs store manager acted as if she were our manager as well. She was upstairs constantly drilling us about cleaning the entire space including the stairs, main areas and bathroom. Most of the time it was yours truly sweeping and moping a space that was not mine, so resentment and anger began to build. She also monitored us with cameras and put a lock box around the air conditioning control panel. After some time, I felt more like an employee rather than a business owner.
As most of you know, I later found an old house to renovate still located downtown for only $755 per month! Looking back, I wish I would’ve just stayed put renting my little room. Times were simpler back then… I realized that dealing with and relying on employees was tricky since none of them had the same passion for the business as I did. My spa’s first negative review came from one of my employees and still more after that. Instead of me spending time on my clients, I had to focus more energy training staff and enduring meetings (which I’ve always hated). Long story short – adding staff really took all the fun out of the business.
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